Do you know anyone with a 'kirakira' name?

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be a wet start to the week, but it should stop raining at some point this morning. The rest of the day will remain cloudy but warm with a  high of 21C. Tomorrow is looking nice, then it'll cloud over on Wednesday and rain on Thursday with the end of the week looking pretty nice. Temperatures will remain above normal all week with highs around 20C and overnight lows around 10C.

Lately, trending Japanese baby names are shifting towards a new unknown level of weirdness. Ever heard of kira kira names? Literally meaning “sparkly” or “shiny,” these seemingly bizarre names sound completely different from Japanese traditional ones. Everyone understands that naming a child reflects the parents’ love and the desire to make their child unique, but sometimes, too much is, well… too much.

Not unlike other societies, Japanese parents are attracted to new and original names. Kira kira names are the subject of frequent articles wondering about the future integration of those children. Indeed, in Japanese society, for which the saying “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”  is an essential rule, it is better to conform than to stick out.

Deru kui wa utareru
出る杭は打たれる
It is better to conform than to stick out.

What are kira kira names?

First of all, kira kira names have an unusual pronunciation and are very often surprising or confusing, such as the name Naiki, which is pronounced like the famous shoe brand, Nike. Another example would be the girl’s name Purin, which is meant to be short for princess, but sounds exactly like how pudding is pronounced in Japanese. Kanji are another important criteria: these should have double meanings or be hard to read. Ideograms are already a challenge with so many different readings for the same characters, but add an unusual or incomprehensible combination and you will stymie more than one teacher at school.

In Japan, a legislation regarding names exists and dictates the use of “easy and commonly used kanji.” These are limited to “daily use” joyo (常用漢字) and jinmei (人名漢字) kanji designated “for personal names.” However, the law has a loophole: the ideogram’s reading. Parents are free to choose how the kanji should be read and this is written down on the birth certificate. Once given—a name is very difficult to change.

In a society that strives for conformity, more and more children now know at least one kid at school with an uncommon name. To tell the truth, this new wave of creative Japanese names seems to be on the rise, despite the nuisance it can cause for the holders. Not only could you be the victim of harassment at school, but your name could be a barrier to finding employment later. Even the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, urged parents to think about the well-being and the future of their kid when choosing a name.

Why kira kira names?

Currently, we can imagine two reasons behind the trend of kira kira names. One is the Japanese preoccupation with its popular culture of animation, manga, movies and so on. Similar to TV’s influence on American and European names, Japan’s subculture has influenced Japanese parents. Most of the time, the kanji used for characters’ names are used as a phonetic symbol instead of for meaning or the opposite—the kanji used precisely for their meaning, irrespective of their readings. This way of using kanji is called ateji (当て字).

  • 光宙 – ぴかちゅう – Pikachu
  • 愛猫 – きてぃ – Kitty
  • 今鹿 – なうしか – Naushika

The other would be the opening of Japanese culture to Western influences and the introduction of foreign names. Perfect examples of this tendency is Makkusu for Max (真九州) and Mashyuu for Matthew (馬周). Japanese parents believe such names willould, later on, have a positive influence on their children’s careers.

2015 kira kira names ranking

A sad fact is that on the internet, kira kira names are also called “DQN,” or “stupid,” names. Not so nice for those who had creative parents. And thanks to parents’ inspiration, there is not one day without a new entry in the kira kira names’ list. In 2015, the following top 10 was issued. In first place: Shiiwaanado, referring to Caesar.

1位「皇帝」(しいざあ) – Caesar

2位「星凛」(あかり、きらり)- Akari, Kirari

3位「愛翔」(らぶは)- Loveha

4位「煌人」(きらと、あきと)- Kirato, Akito

5位「永恋」(えれん)- Ellen

6位「空蒼」(くう、あせい)- Khu, Asei

7位「愛莉」(らぶり)- Lovely

8位「海音」(まりん)- Marin

9位「碧空」(みらん)- Miran

10位「七海」(まりん) – Marin

What do you think of this trend? Will it cause problems for the kids as they grow up? Or will we get used to them?

Have a great day!

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