Since The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2020 remains one of my most popular posts outside of the Beauty Files categories, I figured I should cover the best Japanese baby names of 2021!
As with last year’s post, the names featured in this top 10 ranking are not of my own choosing. Rather, it’s a summary of an article posted on Yahoo! News. The original source, however, comes from a survey conducted by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company (明治安田生命保険).
The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021
Top 10 Japanese Baby Boy Names of 2021
The most popular kanji found in boys’ names is 蓮 (“Ren”), which ranked second on the list of popular names for boys in 2020. Ren was once the most popular kanji for boys 2 years ago, and 2021 marks its 7th time taking the top spot. “Ren” is an alternative reading for the kanji for the lotus flower; as a child’s name it could symbolize a new life after a pandemic. However, since it’s consistently ranked in the top 10, it’s probable that parents chose “Ren” based on sound rather than meaning.
Coming in second is 陽翔 (read as “Haruto” “Hinata” or “Hinato”). Rounding out the top 3 is a tie between 蒼 (read as “Aoi,” “Ao, “Sou” or “Sora” and 湊 (Read as “Mianto” or “Sou”). “Sou” as a kanji reading makes several appearances on this list and names ending in “-ma” were very popular in 2021!
1. Ren ( 蓮 | レン)
2. Haruto/Hinata/Hinato (陽翔 | ハルト、ヒナタ、ヒナト)
3. Aoi/Ao/Sou/Sora (蒼 | アオイ、アオ、ソウ、ソラ)*tie
3. Minato/Sou (湊 | ミナト、ソウ) *tie
5. Itsuki (樹 | イツキ)
6. Asahi (朝陽 | アサヒ)
7. Yamato (大和 | ヤマト)*tie
7. Yuuma/Haruma (悠真| ユウマ/ハルマ) *tie
9. Souma/Haruma/Yuushin (颯真 | ソウマ、ハルマ、ユウシン)
10. Souma/Fuuma (陽向 | ソウマ、フウマ)
Top 10 Japanese Baby Girl Names of 2021
Taking the number one spot for Japanese girl names in 2021 is 紬 (“Tsumugi.”) It refers to a type of woven cloth, but in the context of life in a pandemic, parents chose “Tsumugi” as a means of expressing a deeper connection between each other/one’s family. Tsumugi ranked #5 on last year’s list so perhaps we can expect to see it in the top 3 in 2022! In fact, Tsumugi holds 2 spots on this list as another version of it 紬希 came in in eighth place. (紬希 jumped from #86 in 2020 to #8 in 2021!)
Coming in second place is 陽葵 (read “Hina” or “Himari”). This was the top Japanese baby girl name of 2020 and it shares the kanji 陽 (“sun”) with the second most popular boy’s name, 陽翔. In third place is 凛 (“Rin”), moving up from eighth place in 2020.
1. Tsumugi (紬 | ツムギ)
2. Himari/Hinata/Hina (陽葵 | ヒマリ、ヒナタ、ヒナ)
3. Rin (凛 | リン)
4. Mio/Rei (澪 | ミオ、レイ)
5. Mei (芽依 | メイ)
6. Yua/Yuina/Yuna (結愛 | ユア、ユイナ、ユナ)
7. Hina/Haruna/Hinano (陽菜 | ヒナ、ハルナ、ヒナノ)
8. An (杏 | アン)
9. Tsumugi (紬希 | ツムギ)
10. Riko (莉子 | リコ)*tie
10. Hana (花 | ハナ)*tie
The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021: Recap
Last year’s names were “genderless,” representing parents who may have waited until the day of birth to find out the sex of their child together as hospitals and birthing clinics limited visitors during the peak of the pandemic.
However, now that things have shifted and daycares/schools are open, the best Japanese baby names of 2021 may have been inspired by playdates. Social media, no doubt, plays a role as well.
There’s an interesting shift in naming dynamics as new parents want to choose a unique name for their child but not wanting to choose something over the top. Such names are called kirakira (literally “sparkly”) names (think “Alice” written as 亜里寿（アリス）. It’s entirely possible that parents will switch to “old fashioned” shiwashiwa names like 太朗 (“Taro”) so their kids will stand out!