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An Introduction to “Kira-kira names” – Beyond the old-fashioned pronunciation of Kanji

An Introduction to “Kira-kira names” – Beyond the old-fashioned pronunciation of Kanji
An Introduction to “Kira-kira names” – Beyond the old-fashioned pronunciation of Kanji

What is “Kira-kira name”?

Have you ever heard “Kira-kira name”? In Japan, there is a controversial trend of the naming of your child a so-called “Kira-kira name”. In English, this translates to a “glittering name” or “sparkling name” is an unusual name. These names are unintelligible, as they use kanji characters that aren’t commonly used for people’s names, and don’t match the usual pronunciations.

Here is one example of a typical glitter name. It’s called “光宙”, meaning “lights up/ shining space”. Do you have any idea what this name reads?
It actually reads “Pikachu”. That’s right, the name comes from the hugely popular Pokémon Pikachu.

Glitter names are used only for the first name, for both boys and girls, not for the last name. The phenomenon is said to have been on the rise since the 1990s.

“Kira-kira” is an onomatopoeia used to describe sparkling, glittering, twinkling, etc. the way a lot of little things reflect light and twinkle. “Kira-kira” is usually used in a positive sense for pretty/ beautiful things, however, in this case, there is a bit of sarcasm involved.

“Kira-kira names” caused a well-known controversy in Japan is the “Devil-chan Naming Controversy”.
In 1993, a father submitted his son’s name to the city council as “悪魔”, meaning “Devil”. However, the name was rejected as there was a consideration that potentially could hurt the child’s future and it was not appropriate as a person’s name.

Here are our picks for the best surprising “Kira-kira names”.

1. 翔馬 ( ぺがさす/ Pegasus ) meaning: 翔 flying, 馬 horse

2. 王様 ( キング/ King ) meaning: 王様 king

3. 天使 ( エンジェル/ angel ) meaning: 天使 angel

4. 純 ( ピュア/ Pure ) meaning: 純 pure, genuine

5. 野生 ( わいるど/ Wild ) meaning: 野生 wild

6. 主人公 (ヒーロー/ Hero ) meaning: 主人公 a main character

7. 本気 ( まじ/ Maji ) meaning: 本気 serious – “Maji” is commonly used slang for serious.

8. 偉人 ( ぐれいと/ Great ) meaning: 偉人 a great man/ a historical figure

9. 混沌(かおす/ Chaos ) meaning: 混沌 – chaos

10. 楽気(ラッキー/ Lucky ) meaning: 楽 easy, fun, 気 sprit, feeling

11. 愛猫(キティ/ Kitty ) meaning: 愛 love, 猫 cat

12. 泡姫 (アリエル/ Ariel ) meaning 泡 bubble, foam 姫 princes

13. 美富 ( びとん/ Biton ) meaning: 美 beauty, 富 wealth

– The name was taken from Louis Vuitton.

14. 黄熊 ( ぷう Pooh ) meaning: 黄 yellow, 熊 bear
– Obviously, the name comes from “Winnie the Pooh”

15. 今鹿 ( なうしか Nausicaä) meaning: 今 now, 鹿 dear
– Dear called in Japan shika. The name might be inspired by “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” of Studio Ghibli.

Why parents give their children “Kira-kira names”?

It seems that parents want to give their children unique and one-of-a-kind names, influenced by anime, manga, movies and other forms of entertainment.
Perhaps they have the desire to give their children an advantage in today’s world, where individuality is increasingly important.

Parents are likely to put a lot of thoughts/ hopes into the naming of their children, however, many are a bit critical of the “Kira-kira” naming phenomena. A common criticism expressed is individuals are treating the children as if they are accessories. Some argue it is unacceptable to give a child a name that he/ she may be burdened with for the rest of their life. However, a child that does not like their glittery name could consider to change it or to use a different name in the future.

The social impact of “Kira-kira name”

“Kira-kira name” could potentially harm the children’s education and employment opportunities. It has been said that it is always mistaken something that would be difficult to read, also they might cause to bullying or discrimination at school. Or there would be a risk of lowering their reputation for social impressions, which could put them at a disadvantage in their job hunting, etc. The name itself, as well as appearance and social status, could affect interpersonal evaluations.

It may seem like all the disadvantages, but there is one advantage that is quite important. It is easier for people to remember a “Kira-kira name” since they are very different from standard names. Also, it is probably easier to be recognized as an individual. This may be an advantage in a society that values the originality.

Recently, the naming “Kira-kira name” have gone beyond the trend to take hold.
What do you think about the “Kira-kira” naming in Japan?

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