Wednesday, February 04, 2004



Just over the mountains in Kyoto, Nils (of Alive in Kyoto) and his wife are about to enter that transcendental, reality-changing life phase called parenthood, and, not wishing to know in advance whether the baby is a boy or girl, like all parents throughout history until ultrasound must come up with names for both. Not so surprisingly, they have the name already if it's a girl, but not if it's a boy, and are asking for advice and suggestions on the matter.

I say 'not so surprisingly' because it seems to be a common experience (at least in international marriages in Japan) that the girl's name just pops into the parents' heads, whereas the boy's name is a struggle. The same thing happened to Echo and I with both our children, and to a number of parents of our acquaintance. Our daughter Kasumi was named years before she was born-- fortunately as a girl, since, living in fate-tempting casualness on an island in the Mediterranean, we hadn't come up with a satisfactory boy's name just in case.

Three years later, therefore, when in Japan our second baby was nearing arrival we were more aware of the potential difficulties (eventual Japanese/US nicknames, Japanese permissible kanji/birth registry naming deadlines etc.), so gave the matter our full attention. Yet again, however, the girl's name came easily, but right up to the birth day the boy's name eluded us.

Then, when with that insistence so typical of our son the baby turned out to be a boy, we spent most of our waking hours mixing and matching and narrowing down, trying to come up with a name before the registration deadline. We wanted something unique, expressive, euphonic and with a nickname the child could bear in either parental country. Right at the deadline we came up with the name Kitaya (Joy-Abundant-Arrow). I was thinking that his comfy nickname would be Kit, but within a couple weeks after he was born his older sister was calling him Keechy-kun, so Keech became his nom-de-vivre. Some things are better left out of parental hands. I wish Nils and his wife the best of luck in the wondrously nameful times ahead. May they rest assured that, once the name is named, what follows will be pure delight.

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