Japanese is written in three scripts, called kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Kanji are symbols representing a word, such as a verb, a noun, or the root of an adjective. Hiragana is used for new foreign language words, and katakana represent syllables.
Consequently, many Japanese names can be written differently, with distinct meanings, and sound the same. This is important to note because trends in Japanese names often revolve around a specific kanji rather than a single name, and this is reflected in our list of Japanese boy names.
100 Japanese Boy Names and Meanings
You’ll see some familiar favorites on this list, but you’ll also likely spot some unique male Japanese names you’ve never heard before.
This Japanese name means bright prince.
In the Marvel Comics universe, Akihiko was a Yakuza boss who was one of the people to survive the activation of the infinity gauntlet and subsequent mass extinction.
Akihito means bright and compassionate.
From Jan. 7, 1989, until April 30, 2019, Akihito was the emperor of Japan. He abdicated the throne because of his advanced age and declining health.
The name Akimitsu means bright light.
Akimitsu Takase is a Japanese voice actor who has voiced not only some of the best anime, such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Naruto, but has also dubbed feature films such as Divergent and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
Akio is a Japanese boy name meaning bright or luminous.
Arizona State University Art Museum has over 20 pieces in its permanent collection by renowned Japanese American artist Akio Takamori.
The name Aoi means hollyhock or blueish green.
In Japan in 2020, there were 18,617 boys named Aoi born between Jan. 1 to Oct. 20. Of the top ten names by sound, Aoi was number 9, and of the top ten names by kanji, Aoi was number 10.
Arata is a Japanese name that means fresh or new.
As well as being a popular, cute name for baby boys in Japan, Arata is also a relatively common surname in Italy. In Italian, Arata means plow.
Asuka can be written as meaning either tomorrow or fly and fragrance or bird.
Asuka’s most common written form is 明日香, which translates to tomorrow and fragrance, and it is a gender-neutral name.
The Japanese name Ayumu means walking dream.
The Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University is studying primate cognition, and the chimpanzee Ayumu has been a participant in the project since birth. You can test your brain power against Ayumu (1).
Daichi is Japanese for earth.
The Advanced Land Observation Satellite, also known as Daichi, is a four-ton satellite launched in 2006. The satellite was supposed to be used for cartography, but the images were too blurry to be of use.
The name Daiki can be created with kanji meaning great brightness.
Minor planet 9225 Daiki was discovered on Jan. 10, 1996. Discovered by amateur astronomer T. Kobayashi, it is approximately 5 kilometers in diameter.
The name Daisuke means great, big, or help.
The main character in one of the best anime for kids, Digimon Adventure 02, is Davis Motomiya, DigiDestined of the season, lead Goggle Boy, and partnered with Veemon. The reason he’s here under this name entry? In the Japanese original, he’s Daisuke, not Davis.
The name Denki means electricity or electrical.
Denki is included on the list for no reason other than it is the name of my daughter’s favorite anime character. Denki Kaminari can be found in the popular series, My Hero Academia.
Fumihito means writing and compassion.
We think the meaning of the Japanese boys’ name Fumihito makes it a great choice for a family of writers or people in a caring profession, such as doctors, nurses, or counselors.
The name Genji means two beginnings.
The Tale of Genji is a classic Japanese novel by Murasaki Shikibu. The original definition of kawaii, meaning pitiable, comes from this tale.
Goro means six and son.
In Norway, goro is a type of sweetbread. Like the love child of a cookie and a waffle, goro is flavored with cardamom, cooked in a special goro iron, and plays an integral role in Norwegian Christmas celebrations.
The kanji for Hachirō means eight and son.
The kanji for Hachirō are 八郎 and is pronounced HA-CHEE-RO, but it can also be written in English as Hachiro and Hachirou. This name was traditionally given to the eighth son.
The kanji for Haru can mean light, sun, male, or spring.
Haru is a gender-neutral name. While it is the word for the spring season in Japan, it is the Korean word for day.
The name Haruka means distant or remote.
The distant, remote definition comes from the single kanji, 遥. However, Haruka can also be made with either 春, meaning spring, or 晴, meaning clear weather for the HARU element, plus 花, meaning flower or blossom, or 香, meaning fragrance for KA.
The most popular kanji combination for Haruto means light, sun, male, plus soar, fly.
In 2020, Haruto retained its number one spot as the most popular baby boy name in Japan by sound. When listed by the most popular kanji, Haruto, with the 陽翔 combination, was number 2, up one spot from the year before.
Hayate has a rather poetic meaning, which is the sudden, powerful sound of the wind.
Hayate is the name of the second-fastest bullet train service on Japan’s Tohoku Shinkansen high-speed rail line. After public consultation, Hayate was the most popular name because of its connotations of powerful speed.
Hibiki means sound or echo.
Hibiki blended whiskey was launched by the Japanese whiskey company, The House of Suntory. Imported to America by a U.S. business, Hibiki has won multiple awards for its unique recipe.
This name means shining excellence.
New Hampshire potter Hideaki Miyamura wanted to be a medical doctor, but medical school was too expensive, so he went to Western Michigan University to study art. His unique pottery is in several galleries and museums, including The Smithsonian.
Hideyoshi means excellent and virtuous, good, respectable.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a 16th-century daimyo, meaning great lord, who was responsible for unifying Japan and restructuring society. He ordered all commoners to be disarmed and all Samurai to give up their non-military roles.
The name Hikari means light.
Hikari is a brand of specialist tropical fish food with a range of species-specific lines. Their food is so highly regarded it is used in places such as The National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Hikaru can mean light or brightness.
Five times United States chess champion, Hikaru Nakamura, is seen as a driving force in the popularity of online chess. Streaming on Twitch as GMHikaru, Nakamura has over 500,000 followers, roughly equal to his number of YouTube subscribers.
Hinata can mean sunny place or towards the sun.
The gender-neutral name Hinata can also be a non-standard reading of 向日葵, or Himawari, meaning sunflower. To avoid confusion, instead of using kanji, Hinata is often written as ひなた, using hiragana, or or asヒナタ, using katakana.
The name Hiraku means expand, open, support.
Michi wo hiraku, which means open the path, is a bestselling book by industrialist and businessman Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic.
Hirohito means abundant and either person or compassionate.
Emperor Hirohito ruled over the Empire of Japan from Dec. 25, 1926, until May 2, 1947, and then the emperor of the State of Japan from May 2, 1947, until Jan. 7, 1989.
The most commonly used kanji for Hiroshi means tolerant, generous, and prosperous.
For his actions during the Korean War, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Hiroshi Miyamura was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Purple Heart. In his hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, the Miyamura High School is named in his honor.
Both writings of Ichiro mean one son.
In 2016, Ichiro Suzuki made his 3000th MLB career hit, making him the 30th member of baseball’s 3000 club. Beginning and ending his MLB career at the Seattle Mariners, he also played for the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.
The name Isamu means brave.
Isamu Noguchi designed the Playscapes playground in Atlanta, Georgia. Famous for his landscapes and sculptures, such as Bolt of Lightning…A Memorial to Benjamin Franklin in Franklin Square, Philadelphia, Noguchi’s work can be found across the U.S.
Using the kanji’s nanori reading, Itsuki means tree.
The Itsuki Lullaby was thought to have evolved in the 16th century in the mountain village of Itsuki. Refugees of the Heike Clan found work as babysitters and were generally badly treated. This song chronicles their experiences.
Jiro is an alternative transcription of Jirō, which means two son.
Chef Jiro Ono is considered to be the greatest living sushi chef in the world. The creator of many innovative methods used in modern sushi preparation, he is the subject of the Netflix documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Depending on the kanji used, Jun can mean pure, clean, simple, or moisture.
Jun is a fermented drink, similar to kombucha but made with green tea and honey rather than black tea and cane sugar. Only two companies, Wild Tonic and Huney Jun brew and sell Jun in the U.S.
Junichi means either obey, submit, or pure combined with one.
The winner of our “most unlikely professional combination ever” award goes to University of San Diego law professor Junichi P. Semitsu whose other role is an exclusive blogger for country band, The Chicks. Semitsu is also co-founder of Poplicks.com.
Junpei is a Japanese name that means pure, peaceful.
Sometimes spelled Jumpei, Junpei is a purely masculine name in Japan. However, in China, it can be either a girls’ name or a boys’ name, depending on the combination of characters used.
Jūrō means ten son.
This name can also be written as Juro, Jurou, and Juurou, all of which have the same definition. Historically, this name was given to the family’s tenth son, making Jūrō a unique name choice if you use it traditionally.
The name Kaede means maple.
In the scientific study of cells, kaede protein is from a specific species of stony coral that is used as a marker dye. The kaede allows scientists to see how cells migrate in the cerebral cortex of the brain.
The most common kanji for Kaito are 海, meaning sea, ocean, and 翔 meaning soar, fly.
Vocaloid software Kaito was given the name because it was thought to be easy for English speakers to pronounce. Vocaloid software allows a user to type in lyrics and melody and produce synthesized singing.
Kaoru can be written in kanji as 薫/郁/芳, meaning fragrance, or in hiragana as かおる, where it has no meaning.
As a gender-neutral name, Kaoru has become taken off in Japanese popular culture, where it is often chosen as the name for an androgynous character or character with androgynous qualities.
The name Katashi means hard, firm.
Katashi Damascus Steel Knives is run from Chicago, Illinois. Their high-end chef’s knives have 66 Damascus clad layers and a VG10 steel cutting edge.
The name Katsu means victory.
Active in New York City, graffiti artist KATSU creates traditional graffiti, digital media, and conceptual art. While well known for his drone art project, he is most famous for Mark Zuckerburg’s portrait, which KATSU painted using his own feces.
Katsuo is a name that means victory and hero.
Katsuo is not only a boys’ name — Skipjack tuna is known as katsuo in Japan. Popular in sushi, sashimi, and tataki dishes, katsuo is also the primary ingredient in the common Japanese fish stock, dashi.
Katsurō is usually made from the kanji for victory and son.
Katsuro is also a surname, and the story of Paul and Mary Katsuro was recorded as part of the oral history project by the Japanese American Museum of San Jose.
Kazuki means one or peace combined with hope, brightness, or tree.
In the popular video game series Samurai Shodown, Kazuki Kazama is a hot-headed, red-haired ninja who makes his first appearance in Samurai Shodown IV.
Kazuo means one man or one husband.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to British author Kazuo Ishiguro. His 1989 novel, The Remains of the Day, won the Booker Prize, and his 2005 book, Never Let Me Go, was Time’s Book of the Year.
Kei can mean intelligent, gemstone, or congratulate, depending on the kanji used.
Kei is the vehicle category for the smallest highway-legal automobiles in Japan. Known outside Japan as Japanese City Car or Ultramini, they made up one-third of the country’s domestic car sales in 2019.
The name Ken means healthy, strong.
Dr. Ken was an American sitcom written by and starring Ken Jeong. The series was based on Jeong’s experiences as a doctor before leaving the medical profession to become a stand-up comedian.
Kenichi means strong, healthy one.
Mixed martial artist Kenichi Yamamoto fought in the four-person Japanese Champion Tournament, which was part of UFC 23. He was crowned Middleweight Tournament Champion and went on to fight in UFC 29, where he lost to Pat Miletich.
Kenji is most commonly created using the kanji for healthy or strong, and two.
Kenji was the U.S. Social Security Administration’s number 751st most common boys’ name for 1978 when it was used 128 times. In 1979, it was given to 84 boys, making it the 968th most used boys’ name that year.
The Japanese boys’ name Kenshin means humble, modest, and trust, believe.
Rurouni Kenshin, or Kenshin Rurouni in the English language version, is the hero of a manga and anime series and has a dark, grief-fueled backstory.
In Japan, Kenzo means number two, humble, modest.
French luxury fashion brand KENZO was founded by Kenzo Takada in 1970. The famous KENZO tiger sweater almost didn’t make it into production but is now one of their most popular designs. This could be a great name choice for parents who like the popular name Enzo, but want something Japanese.
Kichiro and Kichirou are alternative spellings of Kichirō, meaning good luck, son.
If you’re looking for a unique name, this fits the bill. Less than five people in the U.S. are given the name Kichiro at birth each year.
This name means shining, bright, or clear.
U.S. Army Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic WWII actions. Originally given the Distinguished Service Cross, his award was upgraded in 2000 after a review of Japanese American service records.
Kōhaku means either red and white or gold and silver.
In the Japanese New Year’s Eve show Kōhaku, the most successful artists of the year are invited and split into the all-girl red team and all-boy white team. Teams perform, and the audience chooses the winners.
The Japanese name Kōji has multiple meanings, depending on the kanji used.
Kōji mold has multiple uses in Japan, including the making of sake, miso, and shōchu. So important is it that the Brewing Society of Japan declared kōji to be the national fungus.
Kurō means nine son and was traditionally given to the ninth son of the family.
Hirasawa Kurō was an Edo Period Samurai. When he retired from active life, he opened a tea house and made his own Shinto ware tea utensils for the tea ceremony.
Kyō can mean apricot, unite, corporate, village, or capital city.
The Kyō app is like a guided journal designed to help you reflect upon your day. The app gives you new questions daily and can be used alongside the Kyō Conversations podcast.
Makoto is a gender-neutral Japanese name meaning sincerity or truth.
Makoto Ueda is a Stanford professor emeritus. His many contributions include translating the work of multiple female haiku poets from the 17th to 20th century. This opened a window on the previously marginalized experience of Japanese women expressed in haiku.
The name Masami means become beautiful.
Masami Anno is the director of the anime series, Chūka Ichiban! Based on a manga of the same name, the direct translation is The Best In Chinese (Food)! However, in many countries, the anime series was titled Cooking Master Boy.
Masaru can mean victory or excellence.
The last time Masaru was recorded as a name in the U.S. was 1992 when five boys were given this cute Japanese name. Masaru may have been used on other occasions, but a name is only reported when used five times or more.
This gender-neutral baby name from Japan means harbor.
Depending on which source you believe, in 2020, the Japanese baby name Minato was ranked at either number 3 or 5 in the top ten boy’s names by kanji. By reading, it was ranked at number 2 in both sources.
Minoru means to bear fruit.
Minoru is one of the rare Japanese baby names to rank in the top 1,000 in the U.S. Between 1917 and 1926, Minoru ranked on four occasions with between 43 and 50 boys named Minoru.
The most popular kanji for Naoki, 直樹, means straight tree.
The biannual Naoki prize is a prestigious Japanese literary award for the best work of popular literature by a new, young, or rising artist.
The name Naruhito means virtue, compassion.
Naruhito is the current emperor of Japan. Since ascending to the throne, his name is not used, and he is referred to only as His Majesty The Emperor, or The Emperor. After his death, he will be Emperor Reiwa.
The name Nori means ceremony, rites.
Nori is the common name for Pyropia, a red algae seaweed used in Japanese cooking, especially sushi and onigiri. Nori can be used fresh or dried, and the dried form is produced by a process similar to papermaking.
Osamu can mean discipline, study, logic, chronicle, reign, or rule.
Osamu Tezuka was a cartoonist, animator, and manga artist who is often referred to as The Father of Manga or The Godfather of Manga. His work was used to teach an AI which produced a manga story, Paidon.
The Japanese boys’ name Ren means lotus.
Ren can be written with many different kanji, but 蓮, which means lotus, is the most popular. In fact, 蓮 is the number one boys’ name in Japan, by kanji, and has been for many years.
The name Rin means dignified, severe, or cold.
The rin is a former Japanese monetary unit. A rin was worth 1/10 of a sen, and 100 sen made one yen.
Ringo is Japanese for apple.
The English language version of Ringo evolved from the Old English word hring, meaning circle. This name was given to a ring maker, and these crossovers make it a good choice for families in the jewelry industry. It can also be a fun choice for big fans of the musical band, The Beatles, thanks to its member Ringo Starr.
Rōnin means drifter or wanderer.
A rōnin was a masterless samurai in the feudal period of Japan. In modern usage, the word rōnin is used in reference to a high school graduate who has not yet received admission to University.
Ryo, also spelled Ryō, means cool, refreshing, or reality.
Ryo is also a term used in poker. It stands for Roll Your Own, and playing this variant lets a player choose which of their cards are facing up, visible to the other players.
Ryoichi is made by combining the kanji for good or clear with the kanji for one.
Ryoichi Hirano is a ballet dancer from Japan who is currently a principal with The Royal Ballet in London. Hirano joined The Royal Ballet as an apprentice in 2001 after competing at the Prix de Lausanne.
Ryōta means cool, refreshing, clear, or good, combined with thick, big.
Professional boxer Ryōta Murata is the World Boxing Association (Super) Middleweight champion. Of his 18 professional fights, he has won 13 by knockout and three by decision, and both of his losses have been by decision.
The most popular kanji for Ryū, 竜, 龍, means dragon.
There is a rich and diverse mythology around dragons in Japan with a mixture of indigenous, Chinese, Indian, and religious influences. Many myths involve dragons in or around bodies of water and near temples and shrines.
Ryūji is most commonly written by combining the kanji for dragon with the one for either second or child.
Ryūji Kisaragi is the main protagonist in the novel and anime series, Dragon Crisis! An ordinary teenager, Ryūji becomes embroiled in a struggle to keep a dragon, Rose, out of the hands of a dark organization known as FANG.
The Japanese boys’ name Saburō means third son or bright son.
The name Saburō was traditionally given to the third son of the family. With smaller families, the traditional use of Saburō is rare today, but it’s significantly more common than names that mean ninth son or tenth son.
Shigeru, written as 茂, means luxuriant, lush.
Shigeru Miyamoto is a video game designer and producer, as well as a game director at Nintendo. He is responsible for creating, among others, Donkey Kong, Mario, and The Legend of Zelda.
The Japanese boys’ name Shin means genuine, real.
Pronounced SHEEN in Japan, this boys’ name may not translate well to English-speaking countries where it is usually pronounced SHIN, and the first thought is typically the shin bone in the leg.
Shingo is a combination of genuine, real with I, me.
Shingo Katori was the youngest member of the best selling boy-band SMAP. Formed in 1988, they were the most successful band in Japanese music history and credited with reshaping the industry.
The name Shinobu means stealth or to endure.
Shinobu is a form of shinobi which, when combined with no mono, means those who act in stealth. Shinobi were mercenaries or covert agents in feudal Japan, commonly referred to today in popular culture as a ninja.
Shin’ya means real, genuine, and also.
Shinya is the drummer and one of the co-founders of Dir En Grey, a Japanese band classified as performing in multiple genres, including metal, extreme metal, alternative, and avant-garde.
Shion is the Japanese word for aster.
While aster is the direct translation of Shion, the name can also be created through a combination of kanji with the most popular combo being 詩音, meaning poem and sound.
The name Shiori usually means lithe, bending.
Shiori is a gender-neutral name, but the different kanji combinations are usually attributed to male or female babies. Consequently, 撓, meaning lithe, bending is used for boys, and 栞, meaning bookmark is used for girls.
The kanji most often used for Shō mean soar, fly, or prize, reward.
A shō is a Japanese musical instrument made of 17 thin bamboo pipes. At the base of each pipe, there’s a metal-free reed. Shōs were made famous in western pop culture by Icelandic singer Björk.
Shōhei is created with the kanji for soar, glide, and level, even, peaceful.
The Shōhei era ran from 1346 to 1370 in the Southern Court of Japan. The Southern Court was based in Yoshino, and the Northern Court was based in Kyoto.
Shōta is made by combining 翔, meaning soar, glide, and 太, meaning thick, big.
In the anime My Hero Academia, Shōta Aizawa is class 1-A’s homeroom teacher. Aizawa can control his pupils’ quirks, like superpowers, by blinking, but this tires him out, leaving him with a permanently exhausted appearance.
Shun can be written with the kanji for fast or talented.
Pronounced SHOON, Shun is not only a gender-neutral Japanese name but also a gender-neutral Chinese name. However, as a Chinese name, Shun means to obey, submit.
Sōma means real, genuine, the sudden sound of the wind.
The Sōma Clan was a Japanese Samurai Clan whose rule lasted over 700 years and ended with the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
Both kanji, 空 and 昊, mean sky.
The sora is a small robin-sized bird found across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Native to wetlands, their mottled brown plumage is unremarkable, but the candy yellow bill is their distinctive feature.
Sōta means sudden sound of the wind plus big, thick.
In 2020, Sōta was the fourth most popular boys’ name, reading, in Japan, down two places from the year before. Meanwhile, the kanji name Sō, meaning the sudden sound of the wind, was ranked at number five.
The Japanese boys’ name Susumu means to advance, make progress.
Pronounced SOO-SOO-MEE, not only is this a popular name, but it is also the name of an asteroid discovered by Augustin Susumu Yamamoto, director of the Yamamoto Observatory.
Taichi means thick, big, one.
The downside to this cool Japanese boys’ name, which is pronounced TA-EE-CHEE, is that English speakers tend to mistake it for Tai Chi, the Chinese martial art.
Taiki means great, big, brightness, or great, big, tree.
The Mazda Taiki is a 2007 concept car. With butterfly doors and a body inspired by flowing robes, the vehicle has a drag coefficient of 0.25. The interior was inspired by koinobori, the colorful Japanese carp-shaped windsocks.
Takashi, written 隆, means prosperous, noble.
There are multiple ways of combining kanji to create Takashi. The most common are 喬士, which means gentleman, high, boasting, samurai; 孝, meaning piety, filial, serve parents;
傑, meaning hero, outstanding; and 江詩, meaning poem, estuary, inlet.
Takehiko means military, martial, or bamboo, combined with boy, prince.
The armed forces’ connections to Takehiko make it an excellent choice for families with a military heritage.
Takumi can mean artisan or skillful.
The Takumi Corporation was founded in 1994 when Toaplan Co. Ltd went bankrupt, and multiple splinter companies were formed. Our favorite Takuni game is Elemental Monster, an online card battle game.
The kanji for Yamato means great harmony.
Yamato was the name of the sea around what is now called Sakurai City in the Nara Prefecture of Japan. This area became Yamato Province and then the name for the entire country of Japan.
When written as 悠真, Yūma means permanence, real, genuine.
This popular kanji combination for Yūma led to it reaching number four in the top ten boys’ names, kanji, in Japan in 2020. This was four places higher than it was in 2019.
Yūto can mean excellence, gentleness, superiority, or permanence with person, soar or fly.
The many ways of creating Yūto with kanji led to it being the fifth most popular Japanese boys’ name, by reading, in 2020.
Soshite Saigo Ni (And Finally)
With a vibrant history spanning millennia, Japan has a deep and rich name culture to explore, and this list of 100 boys’ names from Japan are just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of more names to discover as well as multiple kanji combinations for some of them.