Kirakira neemu (sparkly names) are modern Japanese baby names that are basically unintelligible, as their pronunciations don’t match up with the traditional pronunciations of their kanji characters.
One example is the kanji character to the right. It’s pronounced totsu or deko, and has meanings like “convex, protrusion,” “bumpy, uneven,” and “forehead, brow.” Apparently, though, it’s also a kirakira name pronounced “Tetris,” as the character is shaped like a Tetris block.
In mid-2013, Japanese pediatric ICU doctor Ikuya Ueta tweeted a plea to parents to stop using kirakira names. Here’s his tweet, translated:
“Please, don’t give your kids kirakira names. When getting incoming calls from EMS workers, if names don’t use common kanji or have normal readings, it could result in errors when making patient IDs. If we redo the patient ID later, it results in two IDs, which increases the danger of making mistakes. Please give your kids names that can be easily conveyed over the phone!!”
He also said that patients with extremely confusing names were sometimes simply assigned new names at the hospital — a practice that, until recently, was reserved for patients whose identities were unknown.
I haven’t read much about kirakira names in the last couple of years…I wonder if this means their usage in Japan is waning. Anyone know?
[Related post: Japanese Names Getting Harder to Read]