Jared: "The Fujiwara was one of the four great families that dominated Japanese politics during the Heian Period (794-1185), and the most important of them at that time." See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujiwara_clan
Part of the following discussion has been copied from another page (Japanese name suffix):
Bill: Fujiwara no Sai is the old-old fashioned way of saying Fujiwara Sai. "No" (of) does not denote ownership, any more than "de" (of) in Hernando De Soto or Jeanne d'Arc.
splice: Actually, I disagree to some degree with Bill's statement. It makes a lot of sense to me that Hernando De Soto would mean Hernando of the Soto family, and Fujiwara no Sai would mean Sai of the Fujiwara family. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the origin of the old way of naming people. It does not necessarily denote ownership in any way, but it does denote inclusion in a group.
Migeru: In Spanish, 'de' often indicates geographic origin. 'de Soto' might mean 'from the town of Soto' while 'del Soto' would mean 'from the forest'. The same is true of the Italian 'da' and the French 'de', like 'Dupont'. When a geographic meaning is not apparent, it usually indicates noble origin, like the German 'von'.
Bill: Actually, splice, we agree. :-)
moonprince: Fujiwara no Sai is my favorite character as well, so I am spreading the 'Gospel according to Sai' to as many friends as I can *^_^* I am particularly vulnerable because I've been addicted to the Heian period of Japan ever since I read The Tale of Genji twenty years ago. Now I can show my friends a picture of Sai and they finally understand what I am blathering on about. My favorite picture of Sai is the black and white frontpiece of chapter 108 where he is sneering in determination. My second favorite picture is this one: http://toriyamaworld.com/hikago/gallery/screencaps/hika-anime-01.jpg (DEAD LINK, 06/29/2007)
Regarding Heian naming practices, 'Fujiwara no Sai' would be translated as 'Sai of the Fujiwara Clan'. In Japanese grammar the particle 'no' shows a relationship between two objects, with the larger object coming first and the smaller object coming second. This style of naming is no longer used, today Sai would be called 'Fujiwara Sai.' (Surname comes first in Japanese.) The rendition 'Fujiwarano' in the Toriyama's World translations is awkward at best.
Fujiwara means 'wisteria bottom', a 'bottom' being a local word for a low lying or marshy piece of ground. Curiously, around here wisteria usually grows on the hillsides, not in the bottoms. (The Fujiwara were the pre-emininent aristocratic family of the Heian period.) But does anyone know what 'Sai' means?
Tim Brent: A rough translation of "Sai" is benevolent (literally help-benefit or in order to help).
Mark Waters: Sai roughly means "Rhinoceros" in certain Japanese dialects as well as "benevolent." In fact in the Hikaru no Go anime, Shindou makes a joke when asked who Sai is.
Benjamin Geiger: In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stories, didn't Raphael wield a weapon known as "sai"?
MarkWaters: He did, and the weapon may take its name from the meaning I mentioned earlier.
Chibi: According to my dictionary, sai means simply "ability."
Rae: The weapon is a "cye."
Zarlan: Rae, I may not know a lot of Japanese, but I know all the sounds that exist in Japanese and "cye" just isn't possible. Of course it might be the name for the weapon in a different language (Chinese perhaps?)
DarkIllusions: Nope, Cye is not a Chinese word, not one that I know of at least, since i'm a Chinese then I think I should have sufficient grasp of the words^^ but I've never heard of the word 'cye' other than 'Sai' anyways, ninja turtle thingy, was it in English or was it in Japanese? I mean, if it was in English then there is a large chance that the word was of English origin, not Japanese or Chinese....
Zarlan: Turtles is English, so it is quite possible that some words are totally wrong in it.
DarkIllusions: ^Shrugs^ I have never really watched Turtles before, so I have no idea about it :P so what was the conversation about BEFORE we got on to Ninja Turtles? never mind, it's Chinese new years people^^ so: Kong Hei Fat Choi! have a wonderful new year, and have loads of fun^^ (new years at my place is always the most exciting in the whole year^^ because the WHOLE family will be here^^ by the WHOLE family I mean, all the cousins and second cousins and everything..... more than 20 people^^)
Phelan: Just to note that Rafael's weapon, was really a 'sai'. I was a fan of the series when younger, so I don't think I'm wrong here. :p And it makes sense too, since a sai is similar to a rhinocerous' horn.
PurpleHaze: A 'sai' is a traditional Okinawan weapon. As are all such weapons it is a repurposed agricultural implement, in this case the head of a pitchfork. It is not normally a ninjitsu weapon, though it might be used, in the appropriate context, for the same reason as the Okinawans: "plausible deniability".
Fingwe: The Sai weapon is in Japanese ... it's used in karate and I don't really know its meaning but maybe it's rhinoceros too because between you and me does it look like a horn of it :P a three way weapon too great to focusing energy ... from my sensei speaking ... And for the case Fujiwara no Sai I'd only say that Sai is Sai and it's Sai of Fujiwara whatever this Fujuwara is.
Sabi: The Sai is a chinese weapon. You find it in karate because the area of Japan where karate was formed was origanaly its own country and was very supportive of China. When Japan took over karate spread as part of japanese culture. Karate's original name meant "chinese hand" it was later changed to "open hand".
Edvinw: There are a lot of words in japanese that sound the same but are spelt different, just like in english or any language. Since it is not a language of great pronunciational freedom these words tend to be quite numerous. A quick search show that 'Sai' might refer to a side dish, 'to judge', a particle for doing something again(like 're-' in english) and tons of other things. The discussion of 'cye' contra 'sai' makes no since since neither japanese no chinese is normaly written with western characters. People used to different writing systems or languages write something that SOUNDS like the word they want, and in english both 'sai' and 'cye' works to write what japanese people would write like "さい". As a swede, if I didn't know the normal spelling I'd probably write 'saj' since that would be pronounced the same in swedish...
Chloe?: Fujiwara no Sai is one sexy beast. It's so cute when he doesn't know certain things about Hikaru's time. Like in the anime when he thought that the tropical fish in the tank were fake realistic looking fish. <3 <3 <3 <3
Sherab: Does anyone know where I could buy a fan that looks like Sai's, with the straight handle? I;ve looked around and cannot find one.
Derek: (to Sherab)The fan Sai carries seems to be a maiougi or Japanese dance fan.
Anon Linguist: What you're running into with "the" meaning of Sai, is the great wealth of homonyms in Japanese. Lots of things sound the same, but are not the same. 佐為 and 犀 were already mentioned above, but there's also 釵 (the stabbing weapon), 妻 (wife), 豺 (mountain wolf) and 才 (talent). There's a lot more where these come from, and most kanji can be read differently. They don't stand for "sai" only, and have more meanings than just the one I listed. So in many cases, disambiguation is done either by explaining which one you mean, or by writing the kanji, or a little bit of both if it's really hard. I also agree with Tim Brent's reading of the name, for whatever that is worth.
Tamsin: I got around to thinking about the meaning of Sai`s given name, and for what it`s worth, here`s my conclusion: 佐 means `help` according to my Wordtank (electronic dictionary, before you ask), while 為 means `purpose` (the usual reading is `tame`, and is used roughly in the same way as `in order to`, but in compounds you use the On reading, `i`). Therefore, I think his given name means `To help`, and that, in the end, was his destiny; not to find the `divine move`, but to help Hikaru.
HandOfHair: Why isn't his name written in Kanji as 藤原の佐為? For some reason, in episode 50, the title read 藤(ふじ)原(わらの)佐(さ)為(い) instead of 藤(ふじ)原(わら)の佐(さ)為(い). Maybe Hiragana hadn't been invented a thousand years ago in Japan.
HandOfHair: I also recently got the original Japanese version of the first volume of the manga, and Sai's name was written in furigana as 藤(ふじ)原(わら)(の)佐(さ)為(い). The の (no) was written as the furigana reading of an empty space.
Bass @HandOfHair: Japanese words where the "no" is left out in writing are not uncommon. For example Naruto lives in the village of "Konoha", which is usually spelled with only the "ko" and "ha" (木葉), and the circle railway line of Tokyo, Yamanote, is spelled with only "yama" and "te" (山手).
Sorry to interrupt, but I live in a very Hispanic area, and the Spanish article "de" (pronounced 'deh') does mean from, in the case a particular place. Historically most people have been named for the place they lived so as to distinguish them from others of the same name or for the work they did such as smith, cooper, farmer etc. In this case, 'soto' means grove, forest, or marsh depending on where you stand. Oddly enough, there is also a Zen Buddhist sect called Soto. If you check the urban dictionary, you will also find that 'soto' is slang for picker, as in fruit picker, migrant laborer or peasant. I figure Hernando was a peasant, myself, since nobles tended to have way more than one surname.
Also, just for grins, the sai as a weapon seems to have evolved from Indonesia and made it's way throughout Asia (excepting RUssia I think). I have been told it is a typically Okinawan weapon, but who really knows? It's also pretty useful as a farm tool, and since peasants weren't permitted weapons, there you have it.
While I don't know squat about Go, I am enjoying the animè, especially the Go sequences.