Name Spotlight: Minato (boy)


A gateway to the land from the sea, Minato rose up from being a rare name to a hot favourite in the 21st century.


The name is mainly written as 湊 meaning “harbour,” but 湊 can be combined with kanji that are read as ‘to,’ such as 人 “person” or 斗, referring to the Chinese “Dipper” constellationa.

The word originally came about through a combination of 水 (mi) meaning “water,” な (na), the Old Japanese equivalent of の (no) meaning “of” and 門 (to) meaning “gate” (alternatively, 戸 (to) meaning “door”)b c.

The name is, in its basic form, pronounced mee-nah-to. Regarding standard pitch accent, the first syllable starts with a low pitch, rising to a high pitch in the last two syllables.


Looking at the commonness of this name, according to phone book data, 359 people had their names written in 湊 with a further 6 having their names written as 湊人, putting the total percentage at 0.0011947%. That makes Minato a rarely used name for adults and the elderly, even if most of the people named 湊 are actually named Sou.d

Looking at more recent times, here’s how Minato shaped up since 1989e f g:


As you can see throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the name was rarely used, but that all changed in 2004 when the number of boys named 湊, 湊斗 and 湊人 jumped from 0.001% to 0.029%.
You might think for a second that some celebrity or celebrity birth announcement caused this jump. Think again. On September 27, 2004, the Jinmeiyō kanji (kanji used for personal names) list, which has been around since 1951, had been expanded greatly from 290 kanji back in July of the same year to 983j with 湊 being one of the kanji added to the listh i k. The expansion provided more freedom for expecting parentsi to choose kanji that suit various factors.

Minato contined to rise gradually throughout the mid and late 2000s, but the current decade (2010s) would be Minato’s decade as it becomes more popular (Minato, by sound, became a top 10 name for the first time in Tamahiyo’s list in 2016g).

What do you think of this name or this post in general? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the sources.

Jisho –
Kotobank onb:

Japanese Wiktionary on みなと (include) –
Dousei Doumei –
Namae Jiten –
Meiji Yasuda Life –
Tamahiyo –
Ichigo Ichina on 湊 –
Mixi thread on 湊, dated 2006 –
Wikipedia on Jinmeiyō kanji –ō_kanjij
Eonet’s list of Jinmeiyō kanji added in 2004 –


One thought on “Name Spotlight: Minato (boy)

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