From historic castles, ancient temples and tiny rural towns, to bullet trains, ultramodern cities and ridiculously cool technology, Japan is a treasure trove of photogenic wonders.
It’s the country’s natural beauty, though, that continues to enchant and captivate visitors: they travel to Japan from all corners of the world to wander through the country’s forest-covered mountaintops, explore the dramatic coastlines, stare into the ethereal waters of the Shirogane Blue Pond, marvel at the plethora of plum and cherry blossoms, and snap photograph upon photograph of those vivid red maple leaves.
It stands to reason, then, that Japan’s most fashionable baby names are almost entirely rooted in the country’s flora and fauna.
Read more: 70 baby names inspired by feminist icons
Japanese parents have many things to consider when choosing a name for their child: not only does it need to sound nice, but, when it’s written down in kanji characters, the name’s base meaning becomes readily apparent.
From Sakura (which means ‘cherry blossoms’) to Ren (which means ‘lotus’), the Japanese ensure that their monikers are all beautiful, auspicious and deeply meaningful. More notably, though, they’re catching the attention of parents all over the world – many of whom like the fact that they’re not necessarily gender-specific.
In fact, US website nameberry.com has an entire section dedicated to Japanese names, praising them for their “lovely sound, lovely meaning” approach.
A recent study from children’s clothing retailer Tamahiyo analysed the names of 18,029 babies born in Japan last year, pulling out 20 of the most popular. They have grouped them by gender, although it’s worth noting that many of these monikers can be unisex.
Check them out below...
The most popular Japanese baby girl names
1) Himari (陽葵)
Meaning: “good hollyhock”
2) Hina (陽菜)
Meaning: “good vegetables, edible greens”
3) Yua (結愛)
Meaning: “binding love and affection”
4) Sakura (咲良)
Meaning: “cherry blossoms”
5) Ichika (一千花)
Meaning: “one thousand flowers”
6) Akari (丹梨)
Meaning: “red pear tree”
7) Sara (冴咲)
Meaning: “vivid blossom”
8) Yui (佑泉)
Meaning: “helpful fountain”
9) Aoi (亜桜依)
Meaning: “reliance on the cherry blossoms”
10) Niko (二湖)
Meaning: “two lakes”
The most popular Japanese baby boy names
1) Ren (蓮)
2) Hiroto (大翔)
Meaning: “big flight”
3) Haruto (陽翔)
Meaning: “good flight”
4) Minato (湊)
Meaning: “sheltered harbour”
5) Yuma (悠真)
Meaning: “calm truth”
6) Riku (俐空)
Meaning: “wise sky”
7) Kaito (介 杜)
Meaning: “between pear trees”
8) Asahi (旦陽)
Meaning: “morning sunshine”
9) Sora (夏空)
Meaning: “summer sky”
10) Reo (嶺臣)
Meaning: “at the summit of the mountain”
Read more: The 20 most fashionable Scandinavian names
Of course, if you’d prefer to select a feminist namesake for your baby or pet, we suggest browsing through our list of baby names inspired by feminist icons.
From Virginia to Benedict, vintage nicknames to modern monikers, there is a vast plethora of intriguing names which can be adapted to suit any gender.