Notes on Japanese names

"What does the Japanese name *** mean?"
This might be a frequently asked question, but in many cases it's quite hard to answer.

Some of the names whose "reading" has a meaning are easy to understand.
For example "Akira" would usually mean "clear" and "Tsuyoshi" would usually mean "strong".

But many of Japanese names consist of one or more kanji characters, which are ideograms, so the meaning of such names depend on which kanji are used. For example, "shin" might mean "new" (新), "true" (真), "progress" (進), etc., and "ji" might mean "second (order)" (二), "to pacify" (治), "to rule" (司), etc.
So just guess what a name "Shinji" (shin + ji) could mean. As you imagine it's difficult — or rather, impossible — to identify its meaning unless given the kanji used.

More complicated cases are where the reading gives the primary meaning and kanji gives additional meanings.
For example, the name "Akane" comes from a word "茜 (akane)" that indicates a kind of plant or a color name (dark red), but other kanji such as "朱音" (朱 "aka" (vermilion) + 音 "ne" (melody)) can be applied to this name.

Some common "suffixes" can be used, such as "-o" (男, 雄, 夫), "-hiko" (彦), "-ta" (太), "-ro" (郎) and so on for male names, and "-ko" (子), "-mi" (美), "-na" (奈, 菜) and so on for female names.