Hinamaturi – Japanese Doll Festival for Girls

Posted on 28. Feb, 2015 by in Culture

Many of the young girls in Japan are now looking forward to celebrate the Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri, ひなまつり、雛祭り)coming up next week, on March 3rd. Every year, on this day, parents along with their daughters celebrate their daughter’s happiness and health. It is a special day for a family with daughters, as they prepare for this day even a month ago.

One of the most important thing they prepare for this day is the special doll called, Hinaningyo, (ひなにんぎょう、雛人形). This is a doll only for March 3rd, Hinamatsuri.


photo from Nullumayulife on flickr.com

Since the Edo period in 1600’s,  dolls such as above are displayed in imperial court costumes. The costumes symbolize the Heian Period (794-1192). Full scale display is usually, 7 tiers although it is common to only display the emperor and empress that you see on the top tier.

On the second tier, what you see are three ladies-in-waiting. They are called San-nin- Kanjo (さんにんかんじょ、3人官女).  On the third tier, you see the five male court musicians. They are called Go-nin Bayashi(ごにんばやし、五人囃子).

Ministers that are called, Sa-daijin & U-daijin (左大臣、右大臣) sit besides the food on the forth tier. On the fifth row, you see the 3 guards called Eji(えじ、衛士).

There days, there are many stypes of Hinaningyo(ひなにんぎょう、雛人形) out on the market. The one you see above is very traditional, full size, 7 tier display. However, there are many smaller versions of Hinaningyo’s such as the ones below.


photo from Japanexperterna.se on flickr.com


photo from omoon on flickr.com

This coming March 3rd, if you have a daughter(s) at home, you might want to celebrate the day with her as a special day just for girls. Even if you don’t have Hinaningyo’s like this to display, you can still celebrate by listening or singing the traditional Japanese Doll’s Festival Song!

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All About Japanese Names

Posted on 27. Feb, 2015 by in Culture


Photo from 阿乃 on flickr.com

What are some typical Japanese names you can think of? Many of you might say, many of the Japanese names for girls and women end with “ko(こ、子, meaning “child”).” This is true, especially for girls who were born in 1960’s and 1970’s.  Today, let me introduce you to interesting facts about Japanese names, how they have changed during the last 40 years.

~Info from 生まれ年別の名前ランキング

In 1970, these were the most popular names for boys and girls.

男の子(Boys) 女の子 (Girls)
1位(1st) 健一 (Kenichi) 直美 (Naomi)
2位(2nd) 誠 (Makoto) 智子 (Tomoko)
3位(3rd) 哲也(Tetsuya) 陽子 (yoko)
4位(4th) 剛(Takeshi) 裕子 (Yuko)
5位(5th) 博 (Hiroshi) 由美子 (Yumiko)
6位(6th) 直樹 (Naoki) 真由美 (Mayumi)
7位(7th) 学 (Manabu) 直子 (Naoko)
8位(8th) 博之 (Hiroyuki) 久美子 (Kumiko)
9位(9th) 英樹(Hideki) 由美 (Yumi)
10位(10th) 修 (Osamu) 恵子(Keiko)

In 1985, these were the most popular names for boys and girls.

男の子(Boys) 女の子 (Girls)
1位(1st) 大輔(Daisuke) 愛(Ai)
2位(2nd) 拓也(Takuya) 麻衣(Mai)
3位(3rd) 直樹(Naoki) 麻美(Mami)
4位(4th) 健太(Kenta) 恵(Megumi)
5位(5th) 和也(Kazuya) 香織(Kaoru)
6位(6th) 達也(Tatsuya) 彩(Aya)
7位(7th) 亮(Ryo) あゆみ(Ayumi)
8位(8th) 翔(Kakeru) 友美(Tomomi)
9位(9th) 洋平(Yohei) 舞(Mai)
10位(10th) 徹(Tooru) 裕子(Yuko)

In 1995, these were the most popular names for boys and girls.

男の子(Boys) 女の子 (Girls)
1位(1st) 拓也(Takuya) 美咲(Misaki)
2位(2nd) 健太(Kenta) 愛(Ai)
3位(3rd) 翔太(Shota) 遥(Aya)
4位(4th) 翼(Tsubasa) 佳奈(Kana)
5位(5th) 大樹(Taiki) 舞(Mai)
6位(6th) 大貴(Ooki) 葵(Aoi)
7位(7th) 翔(Kakeru) 彩(Aya)
8位(8th) 亮太(Ryota) 菜摘(Natsumi)
9位(9th) 拓哉(Takuya) 桃子(Momoko)
10位(10th) 雄大(Yudai) 茜(Akane)

In 2005, these were the most popular names for boys and girls.

男の子(Boys) 女の子 (Girls)
1位(1st) 翔(Kakeru) 陽菜
2位(2nd) 大翔(Ouga) さくら
3位(3rd) 拓海(Takumi) 美咲
4位(4th) 翔太(Shota)
5位(5th) 颯太(Sota) 美羽
6位(6th) 翼(Tsubasa) 美優
7位(7th) 海斗(Kaito)
8位(8th) 輝(Akira) 七海
9位(9th) 太陽(Taiyo) 美月
10位(10th) 大和(Daiya) 結衣(Yui)

In 2014,  these were the most popular names for boys and girls.

男の子(Boys) 女の子 (Girls)
1位(1st) 蓮(Ren) 陽菜(Akina)
2位(2nd) 大翔(Ouga) 凛(Rion)
3位(3rd) 陽向(Hinata) 結菜(Yuina)
4位(4th) 陽太(Yohta) 葵(Aoi)
5位(5th) 悠真(Haruma) 結愛(Ai)
6位(6th) 湊(Minato) 愛莉(Ai)
7位(7th) 悠人(Haruto) 美咲(Misaki)
8位(8th) 陸(Riku) 結衣(Yui)
9位(9th) 駿(Kakeru) 桜(Sakura)
10位(10th) 朝陽(Asahi) 凜(Rin)

Did you find your Japanese friend’s name somewhere above? or have you heard of any of the names like these in the past?

By the way,  if you ever wonder how the Japanese name(written in Kanji) is spelled out, or pronounced, the following site is a great resource for finding out the info. I use it quite often myself.

人名漢字辞典 – 読み方検索

Simply cut and paste the name (in Kanji format) in the box, and it will tell you how to read the name in Romaji.

How to Say Happy Birthday in Japanese?

Posted on 25. Feb, 2015 by in Culture, Grammar

Today’s post is all about the “Birthday”.  How would you say, “Happy Birthday!” in Japanese? Well, “Birthday” is “Tanjo-bi (たんじょうび、誕生日)” or “O-tanjo-bi (おたんじょうび、お誕生日)” in Japanese. By adding, “o” at the beginning, it sounds more softer; therefore, many women use it that way. Also, smaller children use in that form. Below is the list of some of the most often used expressions related to birthday.


Photo from modernbean on flickr.com


Happy Birthday! – (O)tanjo-bi omedetou! (おたんじょうび おめでとう。お誕生日おめでとう).

or Otanjo-bi omedetou gozaimasu! (おたんじょうび おめでとう ございます。お誕生日おめでとうございます。).

***By adding “gozaimasu” at the end, it sounds more polite; therefore, you would say this to someone older or to him/her who is in higher social status than yourself. You could also use this to someone who you don’t know too well. However, in writing (for example, emails or letters) it sounds more polite to use with “gozaimasu” even for a close friend.**


Happy 30th Birthday! – Sanju ssaino otanjo-bi omedetou.(さんじゅっさいの おたんじょうび おめでとう。三十歳のお誕生日おめでとう。)

**In Japanese, when we say Happy Birthday to someone, we don’t actually say 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc..   We would rather call it, 1 year old- birthday, 10 year-old birthday, 30 year-old birthday, etc..


Wishing you a wonderful birthday! -Subarashii tanjo-bi ni narimasuyouni! (すばらしい たんじょうびに なりますように。素晴らしい誕生日になりますように。)


Happy Birthday to my best friend.- Shinyu-no anatani, otanjo-bi omedetou. (しんゆうのあなたに おたんじょうび おめでとう。親友のあなたに、お誕生日 おめでとう)


Happy Birthday, my love. – Aisuru anatani, otanjo-bi omedetou. (あいするあなたに おたんじょうび おめでとう。愛するあなたに、お誕生日おめでとう)


Wishing you a wonderful year ahead.-Subarashii ichinen ni narimasu youni. (すばらしい いちねんに なりますように。素晴らしい 一年に なりますように。)


May all your birthday wishes come true. -Anatano negaiga subete kanaimasuyouni. (あなたの ねがいが すべて かないますように。あなたの根願いが全てかないますように。)


Hope you have the best party ever! – Imamadede ichiban saikou na pa-ti- ni narimasuyouni. (いままでで いちばん さいこうな パーティー になりますように。今までで、一番 最高な パーティーに なりますように。)


Some useful words to know for birthday are:

Birthday Cake – Ba-sude- ke-ki (バースデーケーキ)

Birthday Card – Ba-sude- ca-do (バースデーカード)

Birthday Party – Ba-sude- pa-ti-(バースデーパーティー)

Surprise Party – Sapuraizu Pa-ti- (サプライズ パーティー)

Candles – Ro-soku (ろうそく)

Balloon – Fu-sen (ふうせん、風船)

Feast – Gochi sou (ごちそう、ご馳走)