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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Japanese Names: So Hippie Trippy, Man

I never paid it much never-mind while I was in Japan, always listening carefully as some beautiful Japanese woman made sure I knew her name.

I never studied the Japanese language prior to being selected into the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, and because of my laziness the first time I heard real Japanese spoken, it was traveling at the speed of light, relativity-speaking.

Every person’s name was aid incredibly fast, and was so alien to my ears that any word spoken by the Japanese could have been a person, a place or a thing, let alone an action of some kind.

Hell, even asking a question was alien to me. Desu ka… whaddya mean you added it at t he end of a sentence to imply a question? Can’t i just make my voice rise up like i do in English, so the intonation implies a question? 

After a few weeks in Japan with intense studying of the language… I realized that while I could recognize alphabets, I couldn’t effing put together the words to create real Japanese sentences, instead relying on the fact that the Japanese knew I was a gaijin (foreigner) and thus could excuse my confusion when I created baby-talk sentences - a fact I sadly reveled in for the next three years,  solving my problems by dating gaijin women who had better Japanese-language skills until such time as I could date a Japanese women with excellent English skills.

In between, I spent lots of time being picked up by Japanese woman at my local bar. I learned all the pretty female Japanese names, because anything said in a war, breathy way into one’s ear sounds sexy.

While not an exclusive thing, most first names for Japanese women have the word ‘ko” at the end of it.

While “ko” can mean lake thanks to one kanji (Chinese) alphabet, for the women of Japan it means “child”.

In fact, I have come across quite a few Japanese men who have the kanji “ko” as part of their name, causing me one embarrassing moment.

I knew that Naoko was a female name, so when I learned that one of my new English teachers fresh out of university was named Naoko, I was hoping for some sexy young woman. This Japanese man I had never seen before comes up to me in the teacher’s lounge and begins to talk to me in perfect English.

Now, I’m surprised, because perfect English is tough to find in Japan—certainly at the school I was currently visiting, which was a very rural institution. 

We chatted about Canada and Japan, and were having a real good time when the bell rang and I excused myself that I had to go find my new Japanese teacher of English—Fujiwara (not the real surname) Naoko. I added that I hoped she was pretty.

He looked at me funny, sighed and said he was Naoko…. I apologized a hundred times in 10 seconds with more head banging than at a death metal concert… but he slapped me on the back and said it was okay, because it happened all the time.

And he was telling this to a guy whose name is Andrew Joseph. Or Joseph Andrew.

I suppose that happens to guys named Ashley, or people named Sam, Pat, Frances/Francis et al.


Ko means ‘child’… and:
  • Yoko =Snow Child;
  • Hanako = Flower Child;
  • Hoshiko = Star Child;
  • Akimiko = Beautiful Autumn Child;
  • Ameko = Rain Child… luckily I never had one of those;
  • Chieko = One thousand Blessing Child;
  • Emiko = Smiling/Laughing Child;
  • Ishiko = Stone Child;
  • Kuniko = Country Child;
  • Kyoko = Today’s Child;
  • Maiko = Dancing Child;
  • Michiko )many versions, but includes Beautiful Child;
  • Reiko = Grateful Child;
  • Umiko = Sea Child;
  • Yamako = Mountain Child
There are plenty more, of course, but notice how the names tend to have an Earth Mother crunchy granola feel to them?

It’s not weird, Japanese tend to pull names from nature.

Do you know what YOUR name means?

Andrew means “masculine” in Greek. In Japanese An-do-ryu means “peaceful-leader-dragon’ based on the kanji I chose to represent the syllables of my name. I’m also a Scorpio born in the Year of the Dragon if that helps clarify what type of a person/beast I am.

Caroline = Strong (that fits); Julien = downy-bearded (I’ll assume that fits); Matthew means gift of Yahweh (that’s the name of God); Vincent = to conquer.

Let’s assume we all have names that match our personality, or have matched our personality to our name.

Our western names aren’t as hippy dippy… but I do have a nephew named Raven, and know a boy named Raven.

I went old school and gave my own son the strong middle name of “Hunter”.

Andrew Joseph


  1. WTF. Does my name imply that I lather my beard in Downy laundry softener for a nice soft feel for the ladies? Cause that's pretty bang on.

    1. I thought your name had something to with how one cuts their French Fries.