Motherhood & Parenting in Japan

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021

Last Updated on 2024-01-14 by Teni

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 (“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 ( | 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!

For more naming inspiration, please check out Tamahiyo’s Happy Name Book For Babies 2024-2025 Edition:

(Title in Japanese: たまひよ赤ちゃんのしあわせ名前事典2024~2025年版 // Tamahiyo Akachan no Shiawase Namae Jiten 2024-2025)

How do you feel about the best Japanese baby names of 2021? Do you feel ~inspired~ by any of them? For more on having a baby in Japan (congratulations!), be sure to check out these posts:

The Best Anime Inspired Baby Names

Japanese/English Baby Names For Boys and Girls

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2022

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2020

Pregnant In Japan? Here’s All You Need To Know

Inu no Hi – A Shrine Visit for Pregnant Women

The Cost of Giving Birth in Japan and How to Pay For It

Birth In Japan: Hospital Stay

Birth in Japan: Natural or Epidural?

An Inside Look At Daycare in Japan

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021

Leave a Reply