Name of Japanese people
Japanese name consists of family name and first name.
The order of Japanese name is (Family name) - (First name) contrary to the name in many countries.
This order is the same as the name of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese peoples.
For example, "Suzuki Ichiro"
"Suzuki" is the family name and "Ichiro" is the first name.
But, when we introduce ourselves to Western people, we often say our family name after our first name like "Ichiro Suzuki" following the name in Western countries.
Therefore, when you must remember the name of an important person, you had better ask which is the first name.
In this website, I write each Japanese name in the Japanese style, (Family name) - (First name).
Japanese family name
Basically, the syllable of Japanese language consists of the combination of a consonant and a vowel.
And single vowel and single 'N' are also a syllable.
Many Japanese names have three or four syllables.
Some other Japanese names have two or five syllables.
Each name is written in a few kanji characters (Chinese character).
Most names consist of two characters, and some names consist of one character or three characters.
The names written in four or more characters are rare.
It is said that there are more than 300,000 kinds of family names in Japan.
As a matter of fact, no classmate with the same family name as I was in my class during my school days.
There are a wide variety of family names in Japan.
But the family names of Korean and Chinese people almost consist of one kanji character.
So there are a very narrower variety of family names than Japan.
I introduce the top 100 family names in Japan.
But the people with these family names is only one third of the total population in Japan.
As you can see, "田" (ta, da : rice field), "山" (yama : mountain), "野" (no : field), "川" (kawa, gawa : river), "村" (mura : village), etc. are frequently used.
It is supposed that the original family was living in such natural environment.
And, "藤" (tô, fuji) is often used.
Fujiwara (藤原) family had prospered as court noble from the 7th century to the 19th century.
It is supposed that the original family served Fujiwara family and was given the character of "fuji".
Japanese first name
After a baby has been born, the parents enjoy naming.
Generally, to create the first name, they combine a few kanji characters in Japan.
Of course, hiragana and katakana characters are also OK.
(Alphabet and the characters of the other languages, numerical characters and symbols are not permitted to be used.)
Each kanji character has one or a few meanings.
The parents can select the characters for the baby from over 3,000 characters.
Naturally enough, the parents select a few characters of good meaning for the life of the baby.
For boy, they select the characters with meanings such as "big", "great", "brave", "fly", "fight", "smart", "diligent" etc.
For girl, they select the characters with meanings such as "bright", "sunny", "beautiful", "lovely", and some flower names.
Also, the characters meaning happiness, ideal, hope, etc are selected.
Then, they give the reading as the name to the combination of the characters.
Or, some parents think a reading suitable for the name first, then select the favorite characters.
When the name is decided, they register the birth of their baby with both the characters and reading of the name at the city office.
As above, the notation of the characters is very important in Japan.
By the way, traditional name for men has "o" (meaning man), "rou" (meaning man), "ichi" (meaning 1st born), "ji" (meaning 2nd born), "zou" (meaning 3rd born), etc. at the end of the name.
And traditional name for women has "ko" (meaning honorific title for a woman in the ancient times) at the end of the name.
But these are old-fashioned, so recent young parents don't like so much.
The popular names are changing in the flow of the times.
Recently, similar names between boy and girl are chosen.
I introduce the top 10 of the name in each period.
Now, they are close to 70 years old.
Now, they are mid-50s.
Now, they are close to 40 years old.
Now, they are they are mid-20s.
Now, they are elementary school students.
The newest top 10 of current babies.
How to call the name
When a person is called by name, "Mr.", "Mrs.", etc. is added before the name in English.
In Japanese, "san" is added after the name like "Suzuki-san".
It is also OK to call by the first name like "Haruto-san", "Yui-san".
It is used for even a full name like "Suzuki Ichiro-san".
When you travel around Japan, it is safer to use "san".
It is rude to call the name without "san".
But, when the parents call their children, it is basically omitted and they call by the first name directly.
And when businessman calls the person in his company in the conversations with the customer, it is basically omitted.
When it is omitted, the speaker looks down on the person.
So you shouldn't do it without understanding the usage.
On the other hand, when businessman and clerk call the customer, the polite word "sama" is used like "Suzuki-sama".
Sama is used when you show the state of being humble.
"Kun" is sometimes used like "Suzuki-kun".
It is used for young boy, but it is not used for girl and woman.
So, it is mainly used for the schoolboy in school.
And it is used for the boy in a group of classmates.
For little child and baby, "chan" is often used like "Yui-chan".
Chan is a calling to treat the people as a child, so you shouldn't be used for adult.