“Seimei handan” for Japanese baby names

Seimei handan is a Japanese fortune telling system used to determine whether a name’s written form is lucky or unlucky.

A single Japanese name can normally be written many different ways, so the idea is that seimei handan will tell you which of these written forms is the most auspicious. This process involves counting the number of strokes in each kanji character.

Though I’m not sure how widely it’s used among expectant Japanese parents, seimei handan seems pretty popular online. A number of Japanese sites offer free seimei handan readings, and there’s even a seimei handan PlayStation game.

4 thoughts on ““Seimei handan” for Japanese baby names

  1. I think it is still very, very popular. But then again I live in a small town. It is fascinating but frustrating as well. Since my son has a middle name we had to make sure all the stroke counts for all combinations were auspicious, first name plus last name; first, middle, last name; and then each name separately. Also, people who become writers, singers, actors, etc. almost always get their names changed. They go to professionals to find the best stroke count, and meaning, then if they don’t get enough success they get their name RE changed to something else.

  2. Speaking of brushstrokes…

    Kiichiro Toyoda founded the Toyota company in 1937. He use a variant spelling of his surname as the company name for several reasons, but I think the most interesting has to do with brushstrokes.

    When you write Toyoda in katakana, you use ten brushstrokes. But Toyota requires only eight brushstrokes. Eight is a lucky number in Japan, so the second spelling is more auspicious.

    More from the Washington Post:

    Writing “Toyoda” in Japanese requires 10 brush strokes, explains John R. Malott, president of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, but writing “Toyota” requires eight.

    While “8” is considered an auspicious number, “10” is not, said Malott, who visited with the company during his years as a State Department official. “Ten” consists of two strokes crossed against each other and resembles the “plus” symbol, or even a crossroads or an uncertain path. Not a good omen for a company.

    “It’s a very Japanese way of thinking,” Malott said.

    Source: Why the car company is named Toyota, not Toyoda, “‘Toyoda’ changed to ‘Toyota’ for lucky number of pen strokes and symbolic break from past,” LA Times

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