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Let's discuss kira-kira names

This week’s featured article

JIJI

A teenager’s decision to change his name spawned a viral tweet and led to a broader conversation online and in the media amid a trend for Japanese parents to give their children unusual names.

The boy, who was ashamed of his given name, Oji-sama, which translates to “Prince,” is starting a new life as Hajime, a change that was legally endorsed by a family court last week.

Hajime Akaike, 18, from the city of Kofu, said he wants his decision to encourage other people who are embarrassed by their given names or find them to be peculiar. He urged prospective parents to think twice when naming their children amid a trend among parents of giving their kids so-called kira-kira (glittery) names with unusual readings.

Among such names are unconventional ones inspired by anime characters such as Pikachu, composed of the kanji for “light” and “space,” and Nausicaa, a combination of “now” and “deer,” who is the protagonist in a popular 1984 anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki titled “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.”

“If someone dislikes his or her name, it is possible to act (to change it). I would like them to have the courage to do so,” Akaike said.

Akaike said his mother had chosen the name Oji-sama to express her belief that her child was “one and only, like a prince.” But he felt that, although the name may sound cute during childhood, having it as an 80-year-old would be questionable.

Akaike began to think about changing his name as a ninth-grade student. Whenever he provided his name to create membership cards, such as at karaoke outlets, shop employees thought it was a fake one and repeatedly tried to confirm its authenticity.

Akaike was embarrassed when his female peers at high school burst out laughing when he introduced himself. The Kofu Family Court approved the application for the name change on March 5.

Published in The Japan Times on March. 2.

Warm up

One minute chat about your first name.

Game

Collect words related to embarrassing situations (e.g., shy, humiliate, laugh)

New words

1) spawn: produce, e.g., “The news article spawned a huge controversy.”

2) endorse: give approval to, e.g., “My favorite actor endorses various products.”

Guess the headline

The teen formerly known as Prince begs p_ _ _ _ _ _ in Japan to avoid kira-kira n_ _ _ _

Questions

1) Why did the boy’s mother choose the name “Oji-sama”?

2) What happened when he told people his name?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you know someone with a kira-kira name?

2) What should you consider when naming a child?

Reference

日本の子どもたちの名前の多様化は進み、簡単には読めないような漢字や意外性のある名前を持つ子どもたちも増えてきています。そのような中、親としてそれぞれ特別な意味を込めて我が子に名付けても、成長した子供が自分の名前に違和感を持つというケースもあるようです。一生付き合っていく名前だからこそ、親はその子どもが成長したあとのことも考える必要があるかもしれません。

自分や周囲の人々の名前にはどのようなストーリーがあるのでしょうか。朝の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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