Top 10 Japanese Female Names and the meanings

I would like to share with you some beautiful female Japanese names. 

First, let me talk about the principles behind names in Japan. Japanese names are mostly written in Kanji, which are Japanese characters. Each Kanji has at least one meaning and sometimes more. Japanese names consists typically of one to three kanjis, but you can also use ひらがな, which is the Japanese phonogram system.

My name is Lina. It is written using two Kanjis. Li(利) has various meanings, such as intelligent, profit, advantage, and useful. Na(菜) means a “vegetable,” or the flowers of a particular vegetable which has bunches of yellow flowers. They are beautiful, and my mother named me after the flowers, but their English name is “rape blossoms.” It seems like my mom did not check what the flowers are called in English. The two Kanji of my name have good meanings separately, but when they are combined, I have to say, “My name means “intelligent vegetable,” or alarmingly, “profitable rape blossoms.”

Anyways, I would like to discuss with you my top 10 Japanese female names. Recently Japanese mothers are inclined to name their baby girls cute modern names, and they vary a lot. So my list is mainly traditional and Japanese-like names, which are still commonly used as modern names.

We’ll start off the list with “はな(hana).” Hana can mean different things depending on which kanji is used. For example, 花 means “flowers,” while 華 means “glorious” or “brilliance.” 鼻: This Kanji is also read “Hana”, but I strongly recommend that you do not use this Kanji because it just means “nose.”

No.2, “愛(ai)”. I really think this is a sweet name since 愛 means “love.” It is also pretty when you add子, which means “child,” changing 愛 to 愛子. 子 is often added to compose female names. In fact, you can make almost any Kanji into a female name by doing this, such as 花子, 春子、夏子、秋子、冬子. Although I’ve never heard a 冬子, perhaps because  冬 means winter, and winter is not the best season in most areas of Japan.

No.3, さくら(sakura). Sakura means, as most of you may know, Japanese cherry blossoms, which bloom in the spring and can be seen beautifully decorating the Japanese landscape. 

No.4 常磐(tokiwa). Actually, I’ve never met a person whose name is Tokiwa, but there is one historical lady called Tokiwa Gozen. She was the mother of a medieval Japanese hero: Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and his brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, who made the very first shogunate in Japan. The shogunate government was ruled by warriors, which later constituted the samurai society. While there are some tragic stories about the Minamoto clan, I really like the name because of its meaning. Tokiwa means “eternity” or “forever.” As irony would have it, Tokiwa’s descendants came to untimely ends, tragically making “forever” a far cry.

千代(chiyo) also has the same meaning as 常磐, and is a beautiful name, so I would like to list this name as my No.5. One of the lyrics from the national anthem of Japan is 千代に八千代に, which can be translated as “Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations.”, which simply means forever.  常磐 and 千代 truly sound like ancient Japanese, yet can still be very beautiful modern names.

No. 6, なつみ(natsumi). Natsumi also sounds traditional, and is considered a very pretty name. Since Natsumi sounds really nice, it has been one of the most popular names in Japan, especially in my generation. I have six friends all called Natsumi! There are also many variations on how this name is written. Considering from my acquaintances, 菜摘 and 夏美 are the most popular way to write it. 菜摘 has the same Kanji (菜) as my name, and 摘, means “pick up,” so if the name is written like 菜摘, it means “picking up vegetables” or again, “picking up rape blossoms.”Whereas 夏美 means beautiful summer, 美 means beautiful, which is used much  like 子 in the composition of female names.

Speaking of 美, I would like to let Miku weigh-in on my list as my No.7. Miku is a really cute name. 美紅(beautiful red) is my favorite way to write it just because my favorite color is red, but I also like 未来(future) and 美空(beautiful sky) because they have beautiful meanings.

No. 8, Aoi. I simply like this because one of the characters from 源氏物語, the Tale of Genji, is Aoi, and she is my favorite.

One of the wonderful things about Japanese is that you can make a name using your favorite Kanji, so let’s try it out. I love science. 理科 means “science” as a subject like physics, biology, chemistry, geography and so on, and 理 means “reason”, “low”, “principle” “logic” and so on. Since 理 is my favorite Kanji, let’s add 子 to it and make 理子. Or we could make 理美 , which is also nice, not to mention rare, but being rare is not a bad thing. So I will list 理美 as my No. 9.

No.10, Karen. 可憐 means “lovely” and “pretty” in a sophisticated, elegant sense, and even if you change the Kanji, they all have lovely meanings. For instance, 香恋(smell of love), 華恋(glorious love) and 花蓮(flower of lotus). One of the other good things about this name is that it is spelled exactly same as Karen in English, so the name can be used internationally.

Interestingly enough, many Japanese female names have similar sounds in English. Of course, while the names might have similar pronunciation in your language, they’re not exactly the same. Still, they’re similar enough to be used in other countries. If you are curious, please read my other article.

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