Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Changings in Japanese female names

(ranking names for babies for 2009-2010 reported by the Insurance Company)

According to the annual survey conducted by one of the big insurance companies in Japan, a girl's name ended with the Chinese character(kanji) “子”(ko) has risen to 2nd in ties on the list for the first time in 27 years. This name was "Riko" which was marked the 55th in the previous year.
Why is this topic featured? You may be wondered.
In Japan, traditionally the Chinese character(kanji) for female names such as "子"(ko) is added to the end such as in Mitsuko( famous for Guerulan perfume named after Mitsuko Coudenhove-Kalergi, the wife of an Austrian diplomat in the end of 19th century) and as in Michiko (our loyal Empress). I would say roughly up until 70s, this general rule are very much reflected in ranking. I remember when I was a student, almost all the girls names I found in the classmates list were ended with "ko" like Mariko, Kyoko,Yoko, Kimiko and more. Most parents were likely to follow this traditional fondness because for one thing the origin of using “子” had a long historical value back to the ancient era through samurai period to the modern era. “子” had been used for women whose families were socially influential and powerful. Adding ”子”(ko) is a prestigious style of naming. The tendency has been then gradually changed since 1980s, parents have been more likely to prefer unique and only-one-name in the world for their girls. “子” has been gradually put away from their choices as being out of date or out of fashion. So here are some from the recent ranking, Sakura(cherry blossoms) Haruna(an image of popular young celebrity on TV?), and Yume(dream)------whew it's sometime so hard to read these names in kanji even for many Japanese like me since young parents trying to dig out so many uncommon kanji that makes us difficult to read.
Now then people come to think “子”(ko) is not as bad as ever? That might be a good reason for "Riko" ranked in the second this time. Yes, history may repeat in naming too.
Oh by the way, my daughter has no “子” in her name and -----curiously enough, me neither.

10 comments:

Au and Target said...

thanks for this Mekkan! So very interesting to learn about names. So that's where the "ko" comes from huh? Guess I must have aristocratic pals :-)

Au is eating 3 times as much as he was on Monday. This FIV miracle drug he's testing seems to be working. We're over the moon!

Mekkan said...

Oh thank you for reading.The sentences are surely not the ones that catch the professional writer's eyes but feel so happy to talk about my culture.And always wishing the best for AU.
Please say "Yoroshiku" to your aristocratic pals.

Carola Bartz said...

This was very interesting to read, Mekkan. Among my Japanese friends there is only one woman who has the "ko" ending. But back in the eighties, when I still lived in Germany and taught German to foreign students, I had several Japanese students with the ending "ko".

Janine said...

Hi Mekkan, you have such nice names, and the meaning of this name is so great, ours are not so fancy ☺ I love Yume very much, best wishes from janine

Elle said...

Hello Mekkan, thank you for sharing this, I am also interested in the origin of names and your explanation is very helpful. Personally, I like the name Himawari but I am not sure if it is a common name, as I only heard it from a drama.

Dionne said...

Wow, that is interesting to hear.

There are lots of name trends here in the Western world too. Brian and I had contemplated calling our future daughter (not that we're expecting!) - Olivia, but then found out that it was the most popular girls name in 2010.

orchid said...

Hi!!! Sorry for my belated comment.
My name happened to be "Miyako,都". And do not have 子, regretting not to have asked my late mother why, father's suffering for dementia, no one to answer me the reason now.
I always add "mine doesn't have 子", whenever I have to tell my name's Kanji D;)

orchid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

Very fascinating indeed~ Hiroko was a name I remember of a girl in Japan!
Lovely weekend~

xo

Anya said...

Very very interesting :-)
So nice to know more
about Japanese names !!!!
THANKS for sharing.

Hugs


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