Names for Japanese ladies:Why do they usually end with ko?

January 10, 2009 by: Clement Nyirenda

My relationship with the Japanese people started way back in 1996 when I was an Electrical Engineering student at the Polytechnic, a constitutent college of the University of Malawi. Back then, I received a scholarship award from the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) because I emerged as the best student in my class. Since that time, I have never paid for my studies again. The WFWP paid for undergraduate studies. The African Network for Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI) paid for my MSc studies and now the Japanese government is paying for my PhD studies.

The coordinator of the WFWP was Masako Morikawa and one of her aides was Michiko Someta. These two ladies were good friends of mine from 1996 to 1999. During this period, I used to think that the fact that both of their first names end with ko was just a coincidence. But now that I have stayed in Japan for 9 months, I have observed that most Japanese ladies’ first names end with ko. Apart from the two aforementioned names, names like Yumiko, Kimiko, Fumiko, Sachiko, Akiko, Keiko, Yuko, Mayuko, Tomoko, Noriko etc are very common. This pattern is very interesting. As a gaijin, who is very interested in understanding the Japanese people and culture, I would like to know why their names follow this pattern.

Filed under: names
Tags: Japan, ladies, Malawi, names, polytechnic


5 Responses to “Names for Japanese ladies:Why do they usually end with ko?”
  1. Jhangora says:

    The title is very interesting. I expected to learn something. Though I can speak just two languages, linguistics interests me a lot. Spent 3 years in S Korea. Couldn’t learn much of the language. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of Nigerian surnames are similar to Japanese ones. Any clue why?

    Well I like searching adn after googling for 5 minutes … cud not come up with an answer. However japanese-names dot net does say that … (Since 1980, the popularity of female names ending in -ko has dramatically fallen for new baby names and some women drop the -ko upon adulthood.)

    Jhangoras last blog post..Tata Nano To Launch On 23rd March 2009

  2. Ichigo Kiyomori says:

    During the period when typical parents had several children, it was a common practice to name sons by numbers suffixed with rō (郎, “son”). The first son would be known as “Ichirō”, the second as “Jirō”, and so on. Girls were often named with ko (子, “child”) at the end of the given name; this should not be confused with the less common male suffix hiko (彦). Both practices have become less common, although many children still have names along these lines.

  3. DeIBiTuuDo Kiyomori says:

    Ichigo is my nick name I my real name is DeIBiTuuDo Kiyomori Brittell

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