Meimei Shiki (Naming Ceremony)
In the past, it was common for respected people or relatives with longevity to be godparents, or for fathers and grandfathers to name their babies, but these days, with the trend toward nuclear families, parents are more likely to name their babies.
How Parents Decide The Name?
In the past, people often used the family name as a reference for naming their children, but nowadays people tend to focus more on the ease of calling (sound) and the image of the Chinese characters.
However, there are cases where grandparents or relatives place great importance on the family name judgment and cannot be ignored. Since surname and name determination is based on the balance of characters with the family name, the range of names is limited. (My mother, for example, bought books and did careful research.)
Once a potential name is chosen, the parents check the name from various angles for any flaws. It is important to note that some kanji cannot be used for names. The only kanji that can be used are the Joyo Kanji and Kanji for personal names. Since the reading is free, some parents give a reading that is somewhat close in sound and meaning to the kanji.
Recent Name Trends
The most popular names in 2021 were “蓮”(REN) for a boy and “陽葵”(HIMARI) for a girl. REN was the 1st for 4 consecutive years and HIMARI was 1st for 6 consecutive years!!!
As the effects of the COVID situation continue to be felt, there seems to be a growing trend among both men and women to choose names that are more solid and reassuring than those that are varied and novel.
Another name, “AOI,” ranked first in the common reading for both boy and girl, is a popular gender-free name.
Meimei Shiki (Naming Ceremony)
Parents usually decide their newborn’s name until the 7th day after the birth. This is because they used to invite their family and relatives and hold special dinner gathering/party. At this event, parents announce their baby’s name for the first time and put the paper with their baby’s name on the wall to show everyone.
Nowadays, parents and their family (including relatives) live apart because of lifestyle and also for work situation. So, it’s not so easy to coordinate this gathering after the child birth. Modern parents usually celebrate this event only for themselves these days. Same as this situation, my husband and I had casual lunch with my parents on the day I came back home from hospital. (After lunch, I went asleep to get recovered…zzz)
Meimeisho (Naming Certificate)
Once the name is chosen, a naming certificate is written and displayed. All that is needed is high-quality Japanese paper, a brush and ink, and a stand called sanbou (三方), which is used to hold a Shinto altar (not necessary in the simplified ceremony). On the naming certificate, write the baby’s name and date of birth.
I wrote Sui’s name on a special paper to follow one of the Japanese tradition. I’d learned Chinese calligraphy for almost 20 years before. (Wow, longer than teaching Japanese cooking!) However, I haven’t written calligraphy for past 4 years! Last time I did calligraphy was when my son was born. Anyway, it’s very relaxing and precious time for me to do calligraphy!
After Naming certificate is ready, display it on a kamidana or tokonoma (alcove). If not, display it in a conspicuous place in your home. It can also be displayed in the living room or on the wall by the baby’s bedside. The naming certificate will be lowered by the time of the Omiya Mairi (shrine visit), at the most.
Sleep well, eat well and play well!
I wrote calligraphy for Mario and Luigi as well. 😘🐻🐻 (I am sure they are wondering…)
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