So many Japanese baby names check all the boxes: They have a song-like ring to them, they’re full of meaning, and they pay tribute to a lovely culture.  

Japanese baby names often have nature-based significance or carry messages tied to family and society. They tend to be closely attached to their actual word meanings, so that in Japan it is easy to understand the meaning of someone’s name, whether you’ve heard it given before or not. Many Japanese baby names also have multiple meanings due to the character structure of the Japanese language...which is part of the fun of imparting a Japanese baby name onto your child! 

If you have Japanese roots or a connection to Japan you’d like to honor, consider a baby name from this list of popular, cute, and unique Japanese names for boys and girls.

Japanese Baby Names for Girls

Ahma: It’s a super-rare Japanese girl name (only 8 total Ahma’s born 1980-2018) with a boho-chic meaning: “black rain.”  

Akari: The Japanese name meaning “lights” or “brightness” has a splendid feel and flow for Baby Girl. Or you might consider the similar Akira, meaning “bright and intelligent.” 

Aya: It means “colorful,” and is a fun alternative to more common girl names, like Maya, Kaia, or Isla.  

Bashira: A “joyful” Japanese girl name that is still very rare, but so sweet. She could go by the super-cute, shortened Shira if the name is too much for a young Bashira to pronounce on her own.  

Chiyo: Such a cute-sounding Japanese name, its meaning is “a thousand generations,” making it a poignant nod to all the family members who came before. 

Emi: The popular Japanese version of a name that’s similar to the more common pick among American parents—Emy, or Emmie. In Japanese it means “beautiful smile.” 

Fumiko: This one means “intellectual,” and lends itself to a host of cute nicknames including Fumi or Miko. 

Hana: If you like the biblical name Hannah, consider this precious Japanese baby girl name of a similar pronunciation and spelling, which means “flower, blossom.” 

Hayami: A unique Japanese baby name meaning “rare beauty,” this is a special choice for a little girl. The name is not popular in Japan or abroad, so she’d likely be the only one with it in your town. 

Himari: This cute baby name is rising in popularity in Japan, and in addition to its melodic sound, it has lovely meanings. Depending upon interpretation, Himari stands for the hollyhock flower, jasmine, or sunflower; it also can mean “ball of light” or “home of light and love.” 

Hina: Meaning “light” or “sun,” it’s a bright and hopeful name for a baby girl.

Hoshi/Hoshiko: Whether you choose the short or long version of this name, your daughter will certainly grow into the “star” she was named after. 

Ichika: The modern Japanese baby girls’ name has anime connotations, and means “one summer.”  (Check out more summer baby names!)

Japana: It’s a new and creative baby girl name with the meaning “ambitious.”  

Kairi: The beautiful Japanese girls’ name means “ocean village;” change the meaning slightly by replacing the final “i” with a “y” to make it Kairy—“sea.” Two serene oceanic options for a little girl.

Kasumi: As ethereal in meaning as it is in sound, the Japanese girl name translating to “mist” is gorgeous and rare. 

Kiko: Kiko means “hope,” and its short-and-sweet nature makes it a winner for parents seeking a simple yet pretty Japanese girl name. (See more hopeful baby names.)

Kimi: Not dissimilar to Kimmy, a nickname for Kimberly, this popular Japanese baby girl name means “honorable.” 

Koko: It sounds like fashion-conscious “Coco” from the French, but this super-cute Japanese name for girls actually means “stork.”

Kokorohime: Part of the current trend of “Kira Kira,” or sparkly names for girls, this is a very popular little girl name in Japan and it means “princess at heart.” 

Mana: This little girls’ name means “affection.” And though it is arranged of typical Japanese sounds, it’s one of those names that could easily have been plucked from another language, giving it international appeal. (In Hawaiian, the name of the same spelling means “spirit;” in Italian, Manna is “windfall”). 

Miki: A cute nature name meaning “flower stem,” this is a precious pick if you have a Michelle or Michael to name your baby girl after. 

Nara: Nara is a “flower from heaven,” giving a profound quality to this floral baby name for girls.  

Niko: There are feminine and masculine interpretations to this pretty Japanese name; most often it is used for girls with the meaning “benevolence” or a gem-like quality from the amber stone. 

Risa: This Japanese baby name for girls has a very specific meaning—“growing flowers at home”—and manages to sound contemporary and whimsical at once.  

Sakura: A popular Japanese baby name for girls; the sakura is the cherry blossom, making this happy, pink floral name especially apt for a little one born in spring. 

Sara: Spelled like the English version, but pronounced sah-rah; the widely interpreted meaning is “happiness” and “music;” or “purity, soul.” 

Shikako: A soft and flowing name with roots in nature—“deer child”— it’s an elegant choice for your little girl. 

Takara: A Japanese word name translating to “treasure;” this unique Japanese baby name is rising in popularity with young parents. 

Yukina: The glittering girls’ name translates to “fortune” and “endure,” for a long and lucky life. 

Japanese Baby Names for Boys

Akio: It’s a bold Japanese name for boys meaning “bright man,” “bold,” or “hero;” a gorgeous pick for a new baby son.

Asahi: The name meaning “morning sun” imparts hope and a warm glow on your little guy. 

Benjira: Names with crossover status always appeal, and this Benjamin-like pick delivers, translating roughly to “one who enjoys peace.” 

Daiki: This cool Japanese baby name means “big” and “shining,” making it a bold choice for your little boy.

Haruki: The Japanese boys’ name means “shining brightly” or “spring child,” and lends easily to Haru or Ruki as nicknames.  

Hiro: Thanks to its close resemblance to the English word “hero,” this boys’ name scores extra cool points; in Japanese it means “broad” or “widespread.” A longer form of the name, Hiroshi, is currently the second most popular boy name in Japan.

Hisashi: A storied name for baby boys, with a meaning built by its two parts; hisa is a long life and shi is a chronicle or history; together it creates the unified meaning “consistency.”

Hotaru: Translating to “firefly,” it’s a whimsical boy name we can’t help but adore. 

Ichiro: If he’s the “first born child,” as the meaning of the name implies, this popular Japanese baby name is the perfect pick for your bouncing boy. (And this name has special meaning for early-aughts Seattle Mariners fans, as it's also the first name of the record-holding baseball player!)

Izumi: Like a lot of the best Japanese baby names, this one’s meaning stems from nature. Izumi means “spring” and represents lightness and renewal for a son born at any time of year.  

Katsumi: The poetic-sounding baby boy name translates to “win over the sea.” 

Kazue: It means “single blessing,” and is a darling choice for the biggest blessing in your life.  

Kenji: Japan’s most popular boy name holds power and tradition as a long-standing favorite. Kenji means “to be in good health,” and is a popular pick for the youngest in the family.

Kiyoshi: Evocative of peace, Kiyoshi is a Japanese baby boy name with many meanings including “bright,” “pure,” and “soundless.”

Koji: It means “little one,” making it a super-cute choice for a baby brother.

Kosuke: A gorgeous and hopeful baby boy name meaning “rising sun.”

Masashi: A strong sound and powerful translations — “ambition, commander” — make this Japanese boy name a definite winner. 

Naoki: This strong Japanese baby nature name for boys means “tree of truth.”

Natsuo: A very cool name for a little boy who can easily be nicknamed “Nate,” this bright and unique Japanese baby name means “birth of summer.”

Seiichi: Such a sweet message to impart on a little boy, Seiichi means “one who is sincere.” 

Sora: This Japanese nature name meaning “sky” is technically gender-neutral but more frequently given to boys.  

Tadashi: A cool-sounding Japanese boys’ name with ancient roots; Tadashi has multiple meanings including “loyal, faithful” and “correct, accurate.” Sounds like a boy with this name will grow up to be a great guy! 

Tatsuo: Meaning, “masculine dragon,” it’s a powerful Japanese boys’ name that he’ll love growing into. 

Tetsu: Like a lot of Japanese baby boy names, this one is loaded with strength. Its meanings include “philosophy,” “iron,” and “thoroughness.” Plus, it has a cute sound to it and easily transitions into “Tet” for a one-of-a-kind nickname.  

Tomo: With a name so innately studious—Tomo means “intelligent, wisdom, knowledge”—how could your little one not grow into a smart young man? For a fun bonus this Japanese baby name also translates to “twin,” which makes it a spot-on choice for the boy in a set of boy-girl twins.  (Peep more twin baby names!)

Toshiro: This Japanese baby boy name means talented or intelligent, and has gained popularity in recent years thanks to a beloved anime character Toshiro Hitsugaya.  

Yamato: A meaningful name for a young boy whose parents are paying tribute to Japanese roots, Yamato means “Old Japan.” 

Yoshi: May you have many peaceful nights at home with a new baby boy who honors his adorable name’s meaning...“silent or quiet.”  

Yukio: A delightful-sounding Japanese name for boys with a meaning that’s equally blissful: Yukio means “happy or fortunate boy.” 

Gender-Neutral Japanese Baby Names

There is some crossover in recent decades with traditionally masculine Japanese baby names being considered for little girls. However, here are some unilaterally gender-neutral options to consider for your Japanese-named baby. 

Aki: It’s a short, pretty Japanese name for boys or girls meaning “bright, autumn.”

Jun: Traditionally a masculine name, it’s now experiencing some gender fluidity. With meanings “genuine/pure,” “fluid,” and “handsome” for a boy, we also love the summery feel in its similarity to English-language name June. 

Kaede: At a time when nature names are popular the world over, you might consider this strong Japanese moniker translating to “maple tree” for your little sapling. 

Kin: A one-syllable cool-kid Japanese name that means “gold.” Kin works seamlessly as a middle name, too.

Masa: This gender-neutral Japanese baby name means “just, true,” giving it a sentiment as lovely as its sound.

Mayumi: Multiple kanji spellings mean lots of meanings for this gender-neutral name. It can translate to “truth,” “reason,” “bow,” “spindle tree,” or “beauty.” For a little girl, you can use spring-like English nickname May, a pretty compromise for the multicultural family. 

Minato: A beautiful gender-neutral Japanese name translating to “harbor,” it’s perfect for water lovers or a little one born in summer. 

Ren: With a sound like the girls’ name Wren (a name that’s been picking up steam), the Japanese version is gender-neutral and means “lotus, love."

Rin: A chart-topper translating to “dignified” or “companion,” this is currently Japan's most popular girl name, but can also be given to a little boy.

Seiko: There’s no doubt your baby will be a “force” to be reckoned with thanks to this powerful, energetic baby name for boys or girls. 

Final Thoughts on Japanese Baby Names

Clearly, there’s no shortage of lovely-sounding, deeply meaningful Japanese baby names. However, Japan isn’t your only source of inspiration...for more great baby name options, take a look at all of our other favorite baby names from A to Z, including:

Picking the perfect baby name is one of the most crucial items on your pre-baby to-do list...but so is picking out the perfect baby bed. Find out what makes SNOO Smart Sleeper the safest, smartest baby bassinet...and learn more about how SNOO adds hours of sleep for babies—and their tired parents—every night!

About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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