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Japanese Baby Names for Girls and Boys

Photograph by Getty Images/Moment RF

Honor your culture and your ancestors—or borrow some beauty for your baby—with a name from the Land of the Rising Sun.


Meaning: Sun flying

Haruto is a popular name in manga, anime, TV and film in Japan. The kanji symbols for "haru" mean "sun, sunlight, distant, clear up," and the final "to" refers to the Ursa Major constellation and soaring flight. Little Haruto has a bright future as he follows his high-flying dreams, wherever they may lead him.


Meaning: Sprouting life, plum, beautiful bud

Mei is a simple, sweet name that comes from two Japanese kanji characters: "me" for "bud" or "sprout" and "i" for "reliant," "life" or "garment." Combined, the words add up to "sprouting life," "beautiful bud," or "plum." The adorable little sister who befriends the wood spirits in Myazaki's classic film "My Neighbor Totoro" is Mei. It's a frequently found name in manga and anime.


Meaning: Tender, eternal

Yuto is a variant of Yuuto, a combination of kanji symbols that mean "gentle," "tender," "superior" and "distant," plus the sign for Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, that also refers to a person and flying. A few characteristics of the name include eternity, or staying power. Baby Yuto might be a tender soul with a larger-than-life personality – he'll forever be the big-hearted star of your universe.


Meaning: Elegant garment, clothes fastening

Yui means "clothes fastening," "elegant cloth" or "superior garment," from the kanji for "tie," "bind," "gentleness," "superiority" combined with the symbol for "clothing" or "garment." It's a perennially popular girl's name, often used by film and music performers. Yui highlights something beyond the ordinary and hints at the added quality of "singular," certainly an apt description for your one-and-only exquisite baby girl.


Meaning: , Calm steady wind, smooth, big, thick

Sota is a 21st-century pick for Japanese boys' names that's easy to say and spell in any language. The brief handle refers to a calm and steady wind – some of the attributes combined in the kanji characters include "smooth," "thick" and "big." Sota might be a good balance for a tempestuous little personality who will learn to channel his power with great focus and equilibrium. An alternative interpretation of Sota is "smart, clever boy."


Meaning: Dignified, severe, cold, gallant

Rin is a cool character who stays calmly objective in a crisis but acts with heartfelt gallantry when she's called upon to be heroic or courageous. Little Rin has tremendous dignity – distracted behavior and silliness are not her hallmarks. When she gets old enough to talk, expect to hear "I got this" delivered with gravitas and enormous toddler aplomb.


Meaning: Great, large flying, soar with open wings

The kanji for Hiroto show up often on popular baby names lists – little boys with the lucky name spread their wings and take flight. Hiroto means "great," "large," "flying" and "fly in the sky with open wings." This little man is ready to soar. His big spirit will uplift everyone around him. It may be a challenge to keep Hiroto grounded, but you will delight in his adventurous ideas and and elevated accomplishments.


Meaning: Sun, sunlight, sun vegetables, leaves exposed to sunlight

Expect little Hina to flower in the sunlight of your affection. The Japanese "hi" for "sun," "sunlight" and "day" connects to "na," which means "vegetation" or "greens," to create the poetic "leaves exposed to sunlight." How lovely. Just like newborn Hina, a small sunflower whose entire existence is living and breathing love. Her arrival in your life forecasts the brightest of days.


Meaning: Sacred lotus, romance, love

Ren is the most common single kanji character of all names and by itself means "sacred lotus." The name works for boys and girls but is currently dominating boys' lists, where it might be combined with different characters for a variety of meanings. A baby named Ren can expect an outsize portion of romance and love in his life. The divine aspect of the lotus is enlightenment – the roots buried in the mud send up a glorious flower that blooms in the light.


Meaning: Superior greens

Yuina is a nature girl – her personality is a refreshing garden of delightful surprises, as fine as the best of green and growing things. "Yui" means "tie" or "bind," and "na" means "vegetable" or "greens." Tiny Yuina has a rare-for-girls "superior" name; she's already headed for first place in achievements and in your affection.

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