Sunday, December 8, 2013

Population Decline and Baby Names in Japan


I frequently hear and read about the declining population of Japan.  There are more elderly people and fewer children than ever before.  Schools are closing due to not enough students and the public services are taxed as more retired people need more services with less working people to pay for them. One reason I find this so interesting is that I currently know four women in Hokkaido who are pregnant.  I don’t think I’ve known four people who were pregnant at the same time ever before.

Are you curious about what baby names are popular this year? Names in Japanese are difficult for me, so I am interested in what the most popular ones are. According to Japanese site, Tamahiyo, here are the top ten for girls and for boys in 2013.

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You’ll notice 7 and 9 for girls are both Airi and 4 and 8 for boys are both Haruto, but with different kanji. The whole kanji thing is a mystery for me, so I don’t know how teachers or doctors or other people can look at different kanji and know the child’s name is Airi or Haruto.

3 comments:

  1. This is really interesting. My friends grand-daughter was named Yua and I thought it extremely strange both in sound and in kanji but obviously I am in the minority!!

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  2. Naming your child is a big thing in Japan. In olden times it was grandfather who decided the names, now the parents are likely to do that. Many are uncertain of what would be a 'lucky' name and ask a fortune teller or Buddhist monk for advice. The number of strokes in a kanji can decide if it is a lucky or unfortunate name. Also the meaning, e.g. girl's name #8, Koharu is made up of Ko(koro)=heart and Haru=spring. It would indicate that the girl was born in spring and the parents wish her to have a kind heart. It is also popular in recent times to use names with a Western sound, but with a Japanese meaning. e.g. Karen, made up of the kanji for Summer and Lotus. Many girls used to have their names written only in hiragana, as these lines are soft and feminine. Women born about 100 years ago were often given names written in katakana. There is a lot of 'fashion' in name giving!

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