He's a Hisahito

Mary
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The six-day-old Japanese heir to the throne -- who, we're sad to say, we can't show here because he's being hidden away from photographers, Suri-Cruise style -- is no longer nameless. His parents (at left) have decided to call him Hisahito, or "serene one," reports the Times of London. Apparently, choosing a moniker is not nearly as simple as buying a baby-name book if you happen to be the parent of a future Chrysanthemum emperor:

Ordinary Japanese couples find it hard enough to choose a name for a baby -- there are 2,928 permitted Chinese characters that can stand alone or be combined with others for shades of meaning. ... Since Akishino is a second son rather than a direct heir to the Chrysanthemum throne he is permitted to name his own children rather than leaving the process up to his father, Emperor Akihito. ... Emperors' names traditionally end with the character "hito," meaning the highest moral standard, while names for royal women end in "ko", meaning noblewoman. Names ending in "hito" are highly unusual for commoners and while "ko" was once a popular name ending for girls, it is increasingly rare for new babies. ...

Whatever name finds its way into the wooden box next week could influence a generation of Japanese children. When Naruhito was born in 1960 he was also given the childhood title Prince Hiro. That year, four names using the character for "hiro" made it on to the top 10 list of boys' names, with "Hiroshi" the most popular. Following the birth of Naruhito's only daughter Princess Aiko in 2001, the character "ai" -- meaning love -- became a popular choice for girls' names, according to Meiji Yasuda Life, which conducts a survey among its policyholders every year.

Personally, I would have gone with "butterstick."

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September 13, 2006 - 3:38am
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