• 28 . 04 . 04
  • I was given a cool, if slightly feminine Kanji name today. Now I just need to remember how to write it!

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What’s In A Name?

All Japanese names have a meaning. Parents choose a new child’s name based on how it sounds, how it is written and what the meaning is. Much more complicated than just deciding on the place of conception… Some English parents, maybe through alcohol, or just impishness, choose names that will make their children immediate playground targets. My mate Steve, for example, is hell-bent on calling his first son Dmitri Petrie, just for a laugh. Phil and Gary Neville’s father, Neville was probably also pissed off at his parents, until he sired two Premiership footballers and it didn’t matter anymore.

However, Japanese parents have the capacity to inflict much greater damage on their children if they so wish, marking them as stupid, smelly or just plain ridiculous as soon as they are introduced to someone. Because there are many Kanji (pictograms) that represent the same sounds, parents can choose a name and manipulate the writing of it to a desired meaning. One slip of the pen can make all the difference, and could be far worse than a spelling mistake on the birth certificate!

I had my name translated into Kanji by a Japanese friend today, and ended up with “Admired English Beauty”, which if nothing else proves that at least some Japanese understand irony. After doing a bit of research, I found that I could’ve been “Temple Worker”, “Anonymous” or a million other less fortunate combinations, including one which would roughly translate as “Betrayer”, so it also proves the Japanese are tactful as well. I feel obligated to take the name I was first given and so for the rest of my time in Japan “Admired English Beauty” I will be, if in name only! This is my name written in Kanji:


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