Not sure if you’ve heard yet, but we had another kid. Raising one boy was so easy we simply had to raise the stakes by having a daughter.
I’m kidding, of course. My son Go has been a handful but we decided that the time was right to have a second child. We’re not getting any younger, after all. Many of you have heard the news and have sent messages of congratulations. We appreciate them all and all of you for that.
Yet there’s been one question I’ve been asked again and again these past few days that I’ve been reluctant to answer: what’s the baby’s name?
Naming our first child took a long while because of the (somewhat arbitrary) rules I came up with in choosing a name: It had make sense in both Japanese and English. It had to be easy to pronounce for both sides of the family. It had to be something that could be written in kanji, because with my katakana last name I didn’t want my kid to stand out anymore than we already would in Japan.
In my son’s case, we settled on a totally kick-ass name that fits so perfectly with my last name, people often do a double-take when they hear it. Naturally, a lot of people wondered if we would do the same for our daughter. Many suggestions were made: Mai, Yuu, Mi, etc etc etc…
But not this time. Naming a girl in Japan following the above rules was hard, but I complicated it further by adding another stipulation: I didn’t want to saddle my daughter with some cute-laden crap name that would have her peers/teachers/employers treating her like a child even as an adult. I see so many of my students (and co-workers!) with kawaii-names that are so adorable I cannot picture taking them seriously.
So we went in another direction, ultimately settling on a name I heard in passing once or twice, one that has no pun-like properties but we both agreed sounded nice: Shanoa (沙乃亜). We threw some kanji together without much care for meaning, although the last one, 亜, is used to write both “Asia” and “America” in Japanese. I thought that was nice.
In the end, I can’t help but notice a parallel to me and my sister. My parents gave me a vanilla name (and middle name) straight out of the Old Testament. Three years later they gave my sister an unconventional name, with an S no less.
(by the way, I tried to upload a picture three times and Tumblr twisted it to the side everytime. Sorry, I’ll upload a few more shots to Facebook very soon!)