• Jiji


The most popular names given to babies born in Japan so far in 2020 were Aoi, So and Ao, all of which are written as a single kanji character meaning "blue," for boys, and Himari, Hinata and Hina, all written in the same combination of two characters for "sun" and "hollyhock," for girls, a life insurer survey showed Thursday.

It was the first time for both names to take the top place since Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. started the annual rankings in 1989. In 2019, the kanji for blue for boys ranked fourth, and the characters for sun and hollyhock for girls placed second.

With other names for boys using the character for blue making the top 50 list this year, including Sota, which combines the character for blue and a character meaning "tough," the company suggested that the kanji was popular because it has "an image of being free and open as if it can dispel uncertainties about the future that have been created by the novel coronavirus pandemic."

The characters for girls were chosen apparently reflecting parents' wishes for their daughters to be "always cheerful and positive," Meiji Yasuda said.

For boys, a kanji character meaning "tree," read as Itsuki or Tatsuki, which came seventh last year, and a character meaning "lotus," pronounced Ren, which ranked top in 2019, shared the second spot this year. For girls, Rin, meaning "dignified," and Uta, meaning "poem" or "song," both using a single kanji character, ranked second and third, respectively. Rin was most popular in 2019 while Uta jumped from last year's 20th place.

Four of the 10 most popular names for girls include the same single kanji character with the meaning "connect." The popularity of the character highlighted the trend to value human relationships at a time when people have distanced themselves from others due to the spread of the virus.

The survey also showed that names read as Aoi and Hinata were popular for both girls and boys.

Meiji Yasuda predicted that names applicable to both boys and girls will be increasingly popular as more and more people are valuing out-of-the-box thinking and actions that are not bound by stereotypes.

The survey covered 9,172 boys and 8,825 girls born by September, who are children or grandchildren of customers of the life insurance company.

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