Japanese names fascinate foreigners because they are infused with deep meaning. With a seemingly endless amount of kanji combination, a simple name can represent anything. This is why a lot of foreigners try to turn their name into kanji. Who wouldn’t want to add an extra meaning boost to your name.
So are all Japanese names cool? Of course not. There are plenty of names that are considered old fashioned and out of style.
But there is one name, when I saw for the first time, I knew was special. A name so powerful that a mere greeting can turn into a fun confusing game of “Who’s on first?” I didn’t know this was a name until recently, and my new goal in life is to become best friends with someone with this name. Or if I can’t, name my child Genki.
Meaning of 元気: vitality, vigor, energy.
Doesn’t sound bad at all.
But if you’ve ever turned to page 1 of any beginner textbook you will know that one of the first two phrases you will learn is:
元気ですか (How are you?)
はい、元気です！ (I’m fine/great)
Which means these two sentences can also mean the following:
元気ですか (Are you Genki?)
はい、元気です！ (Yes, I’m Genki)
But the possibilities for misunderstandings are endless.
元気がなくなった: I’ve lost my energy.
元気がなくなった: Genki has passed away.
元気出せ！: Get energized!
元気だせ！: Bring out Genki!
元気になりたい: I want my energy to return.
元気になりたい: I want to become Genki.
I think the beauty of the name is obvious. Can you think of any other great misunderstandings Genki will have sometime during his life?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.