Onomastics in Interaction With Other Branches of Science. Volume 2.

Born in the Reiwa Era: The Reflection of Contemporary Events in Japanese Given Names

Ivona Barešová
Palacký University


The selection, or creation, of a Japanese given name is often an elaborate process inspired by particular ideas about the named individual, the time or circumstances of birth, and aspirations for his or her future life. An important criterion for some parents is to choose a name which is socially appealing and interesting, e.g., evoking a significant current event. One such event immediately reflected in the names of newborns in the twentieth century was the beginning of a new era, when a new emperor ascended the throne. This paper discusses and illustrates on particular examples the influence of the Taishō (1912–1926), Shōwa (1926–1989), and Heisei (1989–2019) eras on subsequent given name selections and more closely analyses the more muted influence of the current Reiwa era, which began on May 1, 2019, after the abdication of Emperor Akihito. It explores the various manifestations of the era change in a sample of names bestowed in 2019 and attempts to explain this recent phenomenon in the context of the major changes in name selection and trends over the last several decades.

given names, Japanese, Japanese eras, name selection, Reiwa

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