Japanese first names usually consist one or two kanji characters. Last names usually consist two. Foreign names are almost always written by katakana. Some Japanese names can be written by Hiragana or Katakana though. Hiragana has soft and round look, therefore it's used when writing women's names by using kana.
-ko is often heard in women's names. The meaning is "child". Therefore "Aiko" means child of Ai. Ai itself means love.
-o ending means man or boy. Like Mizuo. Waterboy.
Like in China, Japanese usually call the last name first. Therefore Tsuneo Kobayashi-san is called Kobayashi Tsuneo-san in Japan. Different titles are being added according to situation. Please note that these titles are never used on one's own name. Although sometimes I want, I cannot call myself Jaakko-chan.
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-san - for example, Tsuneo Kobayashi-san. A person is usually called adding san to his name in normal situation. It is the polite form. Please keep in mind though that in very formal occasion this is not enough. If Emperor pays you a visit you should probably call him -sama. San can be added both to first and last name.
- kun - for example, Tsunekun. This is usually for young boys, or men younger than you. Can be added only to first name.
- chan - for example, Marichan. For children and especially for girls. It is also common that girlfriends call each other with chan. Can be added only to first name.
-sama - in hospitals you often hear people calling people using -sama. Like "Kobayashi-samaaaa". Can be added to both , first and last name. Sama is also being used when addressing imperial people. Nice. :)
Japanese baby names
Japanese have tradition to name their children with words referring to spiritual things, beauty, wealth and health. Trends vary, imperial family being the most influencial for newborn babies names.
Here are few examples:
|Hana||flower, blossom, graceful||Girl|
|Machi||ten tousand (much)||Girl|
|Mamiko||child of mami||Girl|
|Mine||a resolute protector||Girl|
|Ringo||apple boy (a potential Mac user?)||Boy|
I had been using -san incorrectly. Now I know. And my little ones will have cuter nicknames.