Japanese Teen Ashamed of Name Legally Changes It, Gives Hope for Others Named ‘Pikachu’, ‘Nausicaa’

A high school student in Kofu, Japan successfully changed his name from what he felt was an outright embarrassment to a more traditional one.

Hajime Akaike, 18, was ashamed of his birth name “Oji-sama,” which literally translates to “prince.” Such is considered a kira-kira or “glittery” name, according to The Mainichi.
Examples of kira-kira names are “Pikachu,” which uses Chinese characters for “light” and “space,” and “Nausicaa,” which combines “now” and “deer” and refers to the protagonist of a 1984 anime film.

On March 5, Akaike received the legal endorsement from the Kofu Family Court to change his name. He is now called “Hajime,” which means “beginning” — a clear indication of his intent to start a new life.
He broke the news in a tweet, which has since raked over 267,000 likes and 130,000 retweets.
According to Akaike, his mother chose “Oji-sama” under the belief that he was “one and only, like a prince.” However, he began questioning its appropriateness upon reaching Grade 9 — he just can’t imagine using the same name when he’s 80.

“If someone dislikes his or her name, it is possible to act (to change it). I would like them to have the courage to do so,” Akaike said, according to The Japan Times.
In Japan, people at least 15 years of age can apply to change their names regardless of their parents’ opinion. However, courts must determine that the name causes difficulty in the applicant’s social life before granting approval.

On at least one occasion, Akaike’s classmates burst out laughing when he introduced himself. For membership cards, store employees had to verify his name multiple times, suspecting that he was giving them a fake moniker.Akaike felt more miserable over the years, and by the time he graduated, he decided to change his name for good.He picked “Hajime” based on the suggestion of a monk friend and chose one Chinese character identical to Hajime Kawakami’s, a Marxist economist he idolizes.

In follow-up tweets, Akaike urged parents to think twice before naming their children. He also encouraged others in the same predicament to not give up.
“Names can be changed at an individual’s discretion from age 15. To everyone carrying the cross of the kira-kira name, do not lose hope.”
Akaike will start college as Hajime in April. He plans to take social welfare classes and play in a band.

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