Popular Japanese boy names

Japanese parents put much thought into naming their offsprings and while each name is unique, there are nevertheless some that enjoy continued popularity for their likeable meanings. If you’re looking for name ideas for a baby boy, consider one of these 20 popular Japanese boy names on our list.

One-character names

1. 蓮 – Ren

Popular Japanese boy names - 蓮 - Ren
Image adapted from: Vishu

Ranked within top 20 on Meiji Yasuda’s baby names popularity poll since 1999, 蓮 (ren) directly translates to “lotus”.

As lotuses bloom beautifully despite growing in the mud, the name Ren symbolises the idea of thriving amidst difficulties. Moreover, the lotus flower itself symbolises purity in flower language, thus adding another layer of positive connotation to the name.

Because lotus flowers bloom typically in July and August, Ren is an ideal name for babies born during the summer in Japan.

2. 湊 – Minato

Popular Japanese boy names - 湊 - Minato
Image credit: Nick Fewings

湊 directly translates to “pier”. Because piers are where humans and boats congregate, Minato carries connotations of being sociable and having the ability to bring people together.

The pier is also where travellers rest to regain energy. As such, parents name their kids “Minato” in hopes that the child can be a place of healing for others.

3. 蒼 – Sou

Popular Japanese boy names - 蒼 - Sou
Image credit: takahiro taguchi

In Japanese, 蒼 refers to a dark-green colour with a hint of blue. The kanji is used in the words “blue sky” (蒼天; souten) and “sea” (蒼海; soukai) – these are elements of expansiveness. From this, one can then relate the name “Sou” to a child who will grow up to have great ambitions, or to have a big heart.

Because the colour resembles that of the land, the name also has the meaning of staying grounded.

4. 颯 – Sou/Hayate

Popular Japanese boy names - 颯 - Sou/Hayate
Image credit: Amos Bar-Zeev

(Sou) is word associated with strong winds. The name thus gives off the impression of someone who does things with alacrity. More than that, the name can also mean “dashing” as the kanji is used in “颯爽” (sassou; dashing).

Another common idiom that features 颯 is “英姿颯爽” (eishisassou), which refers to the dignified appearance of a man.

5. 樹 – Itsuki

Popular Japanese boy names - 樹 - Itsuki
Image credit: veeterzy

樹 literally means “tree”, so the name “Itsuki” is strongly associated with nature.

You’ll find the kanji in the word “樹立” (jyuritsu; establish), which is usually used in the context of “establishing a goal”. Thus, the name has a positive connotation of someone who sets goals for themselves.

Two-character names

1. 陽翔 – Haruto

Popular Japanese boy names - 陽翔 - Haruto
Image credit: Rafael Garcin

“陽” refers to the sun, while “翔” means “to soar”. Combining the two words, you get the idea of “soaring towards the sun”. This can mean reaching out to one’s goals bravely, or to have a bright future.

Having “sun” in one’s name has a plethora of positive meanings, including bringing life and energy to people around them.

2. 悠真- Yuuma

Popular Japanese boy names - 悠真- Yuuma
Image credit: Leohoho

The name “Yuuma” contains two kanji characters that are very meaningful in the modern day. 

“悠” (read as yuu) refers to being easygoing and carefree. These are qualities lacking amidst an increasingly stressful society. 

Meanwhile, having a sense of righteousness and staying real is ever relevant as the world becomes more and more complicated. “真” (read as “ma”) encompasses such qualities.

3. 大翔 – Hiroto 

Popular Japanese boy names - 大翔 - Hiroto 
Image credit: Stephen Leonardi

Ranked as the top Japanese boy name on the Meiji Yasuda list in 2015 and 2016, “Hiroto” is a name associated with aspirations. 

 “大” means “big”, while “翔” is to “soar”. This gives the impression of a boy who can spread his wide wings to explore the world.

4. 大和 – Yamato

Popular Japanese boy names - 大和 - Yamato
Image credit: Rémi Bertogliati

Being formed with two easy-to-write kanji, the name “大和” has a simplistic beauty. But more than that, the name can mean “great peace and harmony”.

There’s also a geographical basis to the name “Yamato” – Yamato is actually a place in Japan. It is known today as Sakurai City, Nara.

5. 湊斗 – Minato

Popular Japanese boy names - 湊斗 - Minato
Image adapted from: Warren Wong

“湊斗” shares the same pronunciation as “湊” (Minato), but with an added kanji character.

However, the name is not without controversy. Some parents take issue with the kanji “斗” as it means “to fight”. It makes the name sound mischievous, as if the child will get into strifes easily.

To get around the negative connotation, you can alternatively associate “斗” with Plough (北斗七星; Hokuto Shichisei) – better known as the Big Dipper. This brings to mind celestial imagery, which in itself is beautiful.

6. 奏太 – Souta

Popular Japanese boy names - 奏太 - Souta
Image credit: Gabriel Gurrola

“奏” is used in the verb “奏でる” (kanaderu), which means “to play music”. Thus, the name is suitable for parents who want their kids to grow up musically inclined and have the refined air of a musician.

Meanwhile, “太” is a character many parents like to use as the final word in a boy’s name as it’s deemed as masculine.

As music brings peace to mankind, the name “Souta” can also refer to someone who’s able to bring peace to the world.

7. 大輝 – Daiki

Popular Japanese boy names
Image credit: Thomas Kinto

“大輝” means to “shine brightly”. “輝”, which means “shine”, began to feature more frequently in names following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. This was because parents wanted their children’s name to reflect hope and optimism after the tragedy.

8. 翔太 – Shouta

Popular Japanese boy names - 翔太 - Shouta
Image credit: Raphael Rychetsky

If you’re familiar with Japanese celebrities, you’d have likely heard of Aoi Shouta (蒼井翔太). Like his name “翔太”, which refers to someone who soars, the Japanese star soared to popularity owing to his hard work.

Popular Japanese boy names - 翔太 - Shouta
Image credit: @aoishouta11

Extending from the idea of “soaring”, one can also associate the name “Shouta” with the imagery of birds soaring in the sky. “Shouta” can thus also be connected to the idea of freedom.

9. 陽向 – Hinata

Popular Japanese boy names - 陽向 - Hinata
Image credit: Alex Antoniadis

Literally meaning “facing the sun”, “陽向” is an apt choice if you want your child to be radiant and full of energy.

The name “Hinata” is also suitable for children born in Miyazaki Prefecture as it’s known as the “Sunshine Capital of Japan”.

10. 健太 – Kenta

Popular Japanese boy names - 健太 - Kenta
Image credit: Fred Rivett

Many Japanese athletes share the name “Kenta” – examples include pro wrestler Kenta Kobayashi and baseball player Kenta Maeda. This is apt as “健” literally means “fit” or “robust”.

But not all parents who name their kids “Kenta” want them to be the next rising Olympic athlete

The name can merely be a wish for the kid to be healthy and free from injuries or illnesses.

11. 大輔 – Daisuke

Popular Japanese boy names - 大輔 - Daisuke
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“輔” is a part of a wheel in old bicycle models. The kanji character can also be translated to “assist”.

In both cases, the name “Daisuke” is associated with someone who’s helpful, reliable, and team-oriented.

Popular Japanese boy names - Popular seiyuu Ono Daisuke (小野大輔)
Image credit: @ono.daisuke

Popular seiyuu Ono Daisuke (小野大輔) is a celebrity that shares the name.

12. 拓也 – Takuya

Popular Japanese boy names - 拓也 - Takuya
Image credit: Sasha Sashina

“Takuya” is a name suitable for someone who “creates” as “拓” is used commonly in “開拓” (kaitaku), which means “to pioneer something”. This is linked to creation and being innovative. It can also be associated with being bold enough to take an unusual path in life.

“也” is merely a character that denotes the sound “ya”.

13. 太一 – Taichi

Popular Japanese boy names - 太一 - Taichi
Image credit: Marek Piwnicki

In ancient times, 太一 (taichi) referred to the North Star, also known as “Polaris”.

Because the North Star’s position never changes in the sky, the name “Taichi” can mean someone who remains steadfast in whatever he does.

Polaris helped to guide sailors in ancient times. Thus, the name is also associated with someone who has good leadership qualities – one who can lead others.

Three-character names

1. 虎太郎 – Koutaro

Popular Japanese boy names - 虎太郎 - Koutaro
Image credit: A G

虎 (ko; tiger) became a popular kanji to use in names due to the influence of Hanshin Tigers (阪神タイガース). Hanshin Tigers is Japan’s most influential and oldest professional baseball club that’s still active today. Examples of other names that feature “虎” include 優虎 (Yuuki), 丈虎 (Takera) and 隼虎 (Hayato).

Meanwhile, “太郎” (taro) is a term usually given to the eldest son in the family. It also has a broader meaning of being a “good person”. There are many other three-character names that end with “-taro”, such as “Rintaro” and “Kentaro”.

2. 龍之介 – Ryuunosuke

Popular Japanese boy names - 龍之介 - Ryuunosuke
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The name “龍之介” references a legendary animal – the dragon. It’s therefore a name that symbolises the prowess of the dragon.

“之” is just a kanji to indicate possession, just like using “-’s” in English. Meanwhile, “介” refers to “son”. So, “Ryuunosuke” can literally mean “Son of (the) Dragon”.

The other meaning of “介” is “helping others”, which is an equally positive connotation to have.

Popular Japanese boy names - Akutagawa Ryuunosuke (芥川 龍之介)
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The renowned “Father of Japanese short stories”, Akutagawa Ryuunosuke (芥川 龍之介), shares this name.

Popular Japanese boy names and what they mean

A name is so much more than just a series of sounds. Hopefully, you’ve gained a better understanding of the intricacy behind these popular Japanese boy names, and come to appreciate the beauty of kanji in the process too.

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Cover image adapted from: Wikimedia Commons, @aoishouta11, and @sstvplus

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