Welcome

Welcome to Beyond Sakura and Hiroshi, a blog whose aims of this blog are to cover many of the names that exist in the country, ancient and modern, popular and rare, and also share lists of names with a variety of themes.

Please note that I will NOT be posting on this blog every day, rather, I will be posting 2 names on BSAH every 3 days for 6 days, interspersed by a list post, so with the 2 names being posted on a Monday, another 2 will be added on a Thursday and a list post on a Sunday etc. Also note that I will not be posting anything on this blog in the months of March, June, September and December.

If you have any thoughts about any of the names being posted on this blog or any general feedback or tips, it is highly encouraged to do just that as it will help me improve future content on this blog.
For more musings and ramblings on other name topics, my Twitter handle is @maybeitsdaijiro. My other website, Maybe it is Daijirō (aka Maks), from this point forward, will feature posts regarding my own naming research.

The list of sources that I used for this blog is included here. On this page is a pronunciation guide so you can get familiarised with the pronunciation of Standard Japanese and the way I transcribe pronunciations. A list of names that have been posted on BSAH is also included here, as well as a list of name lists being published.

Thank you for reading.

Chihiro (ちひろ)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Female, can be male as well
Pronunciation: chee-khee-ro [tɕí.çì.ɾò̞]


Etymology and/or ways to write:
The most common form of this name is 千尋, which means “great depth; great height,” individually meaning “thousand” and “fathom.”
Other first element kanji include /meaning “wisdom,” meaning “young, new” and meaning “earth, ground, land; place.” As for the second element, any kanji related to the adjective //宏い (hiroi) meaning “spacious, vast, wide” can be used, like and , as well as others that expand on that, such as meaning “space, (mid)air” and meaning “day; sun.” Alternatively, it can be split into two kanji, with a hi kanji like or /meaning “princess” and a ro kanji .

Popularity:
In use since at least the Meiji Period (1868-1912), throughout the early 20th century, it was common for a man to have this name. Regardless, the name was uncommonly used at that time.
By the 1980s, Chihiro was rising in popularity for girls and by 1990, it was given to over a percent of them, placing it within the top 20. At the same time, usage for boys was more uncommon at over 0.07%, though it would steadily rise throughout the Heisei Period (1989-2018).
Chihiro as a girl’s name began falling in popularity throughout that period, though it did see a jump in popularity in 2001 thanks to widely acclaimed ‘Spirited Away’. According to my preliminary 2014-8 names research, over 0.22% of girls and over 0.15% of boys were given this name in that period, meaning that if the name continues along its current trajectories, there might be more more boys named Chihiro than girls by the 2020s and 2030s, like what has happened with Chiaki right now.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.

Shizue (しずえ)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Female
Pronunciation: shee-zuue [ɕì.zɨ́ᵝ.é̞]
Alternative writing: しづえ
Archaic writing: しずゑ (Shizuwe), しづゑ (Shidzuwe)


Etymology and/or ways to write:
The two most common forms of this name are 静江 and 静枝, the first kanji (also old variant and ) meaning “quiet, calm” and the second meaning “inlet, bay” and meaning “branch, bough” respectively.
Most other kanji combinations can be seen in the table below:

shi (し) zu/dzu (ず/づ) e (え)
“tranquillity” / “wisdom”
志ず/づ see below “defence, protection”
倭文 type of ancient textile* “wisdom, brilliance”
“will, aim, goal” “harbour, haven” “fold, layer”
“purple, violet” 寿/ “congratulations” “eternity”
“poem” “metropolis” “clothing”
“city” “crane” “crystal”

* (shifted from earlier shitsu) made of paper mulberry and hemp, it is used for woven lattice(work), decorated with colours such as blue and red

Popularity:
In the first half of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), it was an uncommonly used name, though that would end up changing dramatically in the second half. By then, the name rose in popularity to such an extent that it was ranking within the top 10 in the 1910s with well over 1.5% of girls receiving this name in that decade.
By the 1930s, it had already begun dropping in popularity, though in that decade, it still ranked within the bottom quarter of the top 50, being one of the only few names not ending in -ko to do so at that point. Fast forward to the Heisei Period (1989-2019) and this name had become rarely used, being given to no more than 0.01% of girls in any given year since 1991.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.

Issa (いっさ)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Male
Pronunciation: ees-sah [ís.sà]


Etymology and/or ways to write:
The most popular form of this name is 一颯 (also 壱颯), individually meaning “one” and “sudden, quick.” The first element can be written as /meaning “five.”
As for the second element, it can also be written as:

  • meaning “polish, shine”
  • meaning “clarity; skilfulness”
  • meaning “gauze”
  • /meaning “sand”
  • meaning “blossom”
  • meaning “cherry (tree, blossom)”
  • meaning “tea”
  •  meaning “bunch, cluster (of flowers); segment”
  • meaning “work, production”
  • meaning “festival, feast”

Popularity:
Throughout the early to mid 1990s, less than 0.003% of boys were given this name, however when boy band Da Pump debuted in 1997 with lead vocalist ISSA, the name began rising in popularity.
By 2000, over 0.015% of boys were given this name, increasing to around 0.04% by 2007 and over 0.15% by 2014-8, according to my preliminary baby name research for that period.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.

More single kanji with interesting readings

Sources Pronunciation guide

This is a continuation to a name list that I’ve posted back in August which explores 10 single-kanji names with readings that I find interesting. Like last time, these five masculine and feminine choices are taken from my preliminary 2014-8 names research.
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the list, starting with:

  1. (Nozomu) – for this first male name on the list, this reading comes from the verb 望む (nozomu) meaning “to desire; to wish for, expect; to see,” perhaps from the way someone wishes for an idea to come true
  2. (Hinode) – the reading for this next name comes from 日の出 (hinode) meaning “sunrise” with the kanji in question meaning “daybreak, dawn”
  3. (Oozora) – this next reading comes from 大空 (oozora) which literally means “big sky,” expanded to refer to the heavens, the blue or the firmament
  4. (Ritsu) – this reading comes from (ritsu) meaning “stand, rise,” the verb 立つ (tatsu) also giving way to such readings as Tatsuki and Tatsuru
  5. (Naru) – for the final male name on this list, this reading seems to be borrowed from Hawaiian nalu meaning “wave, surf” with both nami (the native Japanese reading) and nalu generally sharing the initial syllable
  6. (Kokoro) – this first female name on the list has a reading which comes from 心 (kokoro) meaning “mind, heart, spirit,” intersecting well with the kanji in question, which has the meaning of “gentle, elegant”
  7. (Toki) – it seems as if this reading comes from (toki) meaning “time” and one may think it is from the way one builds up their intelligence over time – regarding Toki Onjōji (園城寺 怜) from manga and anime ‘Saki’, from what I can tell, it may stem from her being able to predict one turn into the future in mahjong
  8. (Sayaka) – this next reading comes from the adjective /清か (sayaka) meaning “clear, fresh, bright,” referring to the fine weather
  9. (Yue) – for this next female name, it is a Japanese approximation of Mandarin (yuè)
  10. (Yukari) – this final female name on this list has a reading which comes from (yukari) meaning “connection, affinity,” seemingly referring to a bond or relationship between friends

What do you think? If you would like to add in your thoughts or other suggestions for this list, please share them in the comments below.

Hiiro (ひいろ)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Female, can be male as well
Pronunciation: khee-ee-ro [çí.ì.ɾò̞]


Etymology and/or ways to write:
The second element of this name is almost always written as or (the more popular choice) meaning “colour.” As for the first element, it can be written as:

  • /meaning “day; sun”
  • meaning “one”
  • meaning “scarlet”
  • /meaning “princess”
  • , referring to the false holly
  • meaning “light; lamp”
  • /meaning “fly, soar”
  • meaning “echo, reverberation​”
  • , a phonetic kanji
  • meaning “figure, design”

Popularity:
Almost all of its usage is concentrated on people born in the Heisei Period (1989-2019) onwards. In 1990, it was given to 0.002% of girls, though no boys named Hiiro were found in the NamaeJiten data.
The name has since seen a steady rise in popularity with over 0.06% of girls and around 0.03% of boys receiving this name by 2007, placing the name within the bottom of the girls’ top 250. According to my preliminary 2014-8 names research, over 0.11% of girls and over 0.06% of boys received this name in that period.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.

Beni (べに)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Female
Pronunciation: be-nʸee [bé̞.ɲ̟ì]


Etymology and/or ways to write:
This name is written as , which refers to the crimson colour but extends to refer to rouge or lipstick, both traditionally made from safflowers (called 紅花 (benibana)).
Looking through conversations between two Wiktionary editors who were working on the word’s etymology, while the first element be remains, for the time being, uncertain, the second element ni certainly seems to come from (ni) meaning “red earth” (which can contain cinnabar).

Popularity:
Overall, this name is rarely to very uncommonly used. Based on NamaeJiten data and my preliminary 2014-8 names research, the name has not been given to more than 0.01% of girls in any given year since 1989 – less than 0.005% of girls born in any year ranging from the 1990s to the mid-2000s were given this name.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.

Seiya (せいや)

Sources Pronunciation guide

(Main) gender: Male
Pronunciation: se:-yah [sé̞è̞.jà]


Etymology and/or ways to write:
Here are most of the kanji used for this name:

sei (せい) ya (や)
“sacred, holy” phonetic kanji*
“truth, reality” “arrow”
“star” / “increase”
“clear” phonetic kanji
“conquest” phonetic kanji
“clear, fine” “night”
“growth, reach, attainment” “(coconut) palm”
“clean, pure, chaste” “eight”
“oath, vow” “field”
“quiet, peaceful” “space, room”
“rule, government”
“realise”
“blue”
“generation”
“force, vigour, energy”
“exact, precise”
“prosperous”
/ “quiet, calm”
“live, living”
“equal”

* can refer to archaic auxiliary verb なり (nari) meaning “to be”

There are 6 combinations I’ve found that also act as literary words with all bar one of the 6 containing . They include:

  • 静夜, referring to a quiet night
  • 聖夜, literally meaning “holy night,” but can refer to Christmas Eve
  • 晴夜, referring to a clear night
  • 星夜, referring to a starry night
  • 清夜, referring to a cool and refreshing night
  • 征野, referring to a battlefield/ground

Popularity:
Used since at least the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Seiya was uncommonly used until the 1980s when it began rising in popularity. It is likely that the manga and anime series ‘Saint Seiya‘ was behing this rise in popularity. It seems that when the anime was cancelled in 1989 and the manga stopped being serialised in 1990, the name had fallen a bit in popularity with over 0.25% of boys receiving this name in 1990 compared to around 0.28% the year before.
However, for reasons I could not find, the name began rising in popularity again in 1992, peaking at over 0.5% by 1996, before falling back outside the top 100 by 2007 with around 0.21% of boys being given this name in that year. According to my preliminary 2014-8 names research, over 0.12% of boys received this name in that period.

If you would like to add in your thoughts about this name, please share them in the comments below.