Names In Hikaru No Go


Names in Hikaru no Go

On naming

Many Asian countries, Japan included, place the person's family name before their given name, for example Go Seigen. Sensei's Library uses the Asian ordering exclusively (see Japanese name).

However, this page and other Hikaru no Go pages use given name first, family name last ordering for most of the characters to be consistent with Hikaru no Go manga published in the United States, France and Germany. It is hoped that this choice will facilitate the use of Sensei's Library by individuals for whom reading the manga is their first exposure to Go.

The manga uses Western order naming with modern-day individuals and Japanese naming with historical figures. Perhaps the most prominent example of the historical figure naming is Murasaki Shikibu (Asian order) in place of Shikibu Murasaki (Western order). Murasaki Shikibu is the author of the famous Japanese novel The Tale of Genji. Chinese and Korean individuals (such as Lee Rinshin) have their names rendered in Asian order in the English-language version of Hikaru no Go.

Names of seiyu (voice actors) and all staff members involved (except for Umezawa Yukari) are also in the Western order.


Hikaru Shindo (進藤 ヒカル Shindō Hikaru)

A friend who is semi-literate in Japanese has told me that 'Hikaru' can be translated as 'shining' or 'brilliant,' with a colloquial meaning similar to English (not only the literal meaning of 'a very bright light', but also 'he shines at what he does' or a 'brilliant player'). Can anyone corroborate this?

This got me to thinking about the name 'Shindo.' I think 'shin' means 'new,' as in shinfuseki; and from martial artists, I've heard that 'do' means something like 'school', 'way', or 'path'. So, I speculate that 'Shindo Hikaru' might mean something like 'brilliant new way' or 'shining new school'. (Or am I way off base here?)

Do the other characters' names translate interestingly?

- TakeNGive (yes, I admit that I am a HikaruNoGoJunkie. I have no power over my HikaruNoGo habit...)

Actually, TakeNGive, there are something like 35 kanjis that ON-read or KUN-read 'shin'. I only know three of them, which mean 'new' (shinfuseki), 'truth' (shinno Noir) and 'heart'/'soul'(Hitokiri battousai Himura Kenshin).

I think (Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong) the 'do' meaning 'school'/'way'/'path' has a short 'o' whereas Hikaru's family name is Shindou with a long ON 'dou'. I've got a kanji dictionary so I'll try to find 'Shindou' written with kanjis (for example, on the inscription sheet of the second winter tournament) and I'll keep you informed by Tuesday.

Finally, 'hikari' means 'light' (like in 'Turn the light on') in Japanese and 'hikaru' (the predicate) means 'to light', or maybe also 'to be enlightened'. 'To shine' would be something more like 'kagayaku'.

- MrKoala (another HikaruNoGoJunkie...)

Chapter 86, first page, gives the kanji for "Shindou" (but uses katakana for "Hikaru"). The web browser I use doesn't let me paste them here, but the first kanji loosely means "progress" - appropriate! - and the second one I can't see clearly enough to look up. I'm quite new to reading kanji; when I say "loosely means", what I mean is that it is the first kanji of several words which mean "progress" or something quite similar. - Dan K

MrKoala: OK, I watched the anime, ep. 12, when Touya looks at the board assignment sheet for Haze chuu. I agree with DanK about the first kanji ("Kanji to Kana" n?37), with "SHIN" as the ON-reading for "susu(mu)" (to advance/to progress). I'm pretty sure of it because I found only one kanji reading "shin" that bears the key shinny?("the path"). The other one I am not sure because the video I've got is VERY VERY VERY BLURRY, but the closest I could guess is "DOU,michibi(ku)" ("Kanji to Kana" n?03) meaning "to lead"/"to guide" and which is composed of two parts : upper half is : JI,SHI,mizuka(ra) ("oneself") surrounded by shinny?"the path") and kusakanmuri("the herb"), and the lower half is the simplified version of te ("the hand"). Please corroborate or refute this. I chose this one because of the shape of the lower right part.

The second character in Shindo is "tou" meaning wisteria (the flower). It is the second character in Japanese family names such as Kato, Kudo, Sato, etc. The Kun-yomi is Fuji (no relation to the mountain) and it is the first character in such family names as Fujiwara, Fujisawa, Fujimoto, etc. This kanji is very common in both family and place names in Japan. DaveSigaty

Hikaru is the nickname of Prince Genji in the Genji Monogatari ('The Tale of Genji'), written circa 1000 AD by Murasaki Shikibu. In The Tale of Genji 'Hikaru' means 'shining' and Prince Genji has been known ever after as 'the shining prince.' The Tale of Genji is generally regarded as Japan's greatest work of literature. (You go freaks should read something besides manga! *^_^*)

Fujiwara no Sai claims to have known Murasaki Shikibu (author of The Tale of Genji) when he was alive and working as a go teacher at the Imperial Court of Japan, which makes about as direct a link as you can have between Hikaru Genji and Shindo Hikaru.

On the other hand, I have a sneaky suspicion that the name 'Shindo' is nothing but an obscure pun. When he was alive Sai lived in a kind of mansion called a 'shinden'. Now Sai is living inside Shindo Hikaru's head. In other words, Sai who used to live in a shinden is now living in a Shindo. (Don't hit me! It's not my fault the Japanese adore puns!)


So the name "Shindou" would mean something like "the one that is lead towards his own improvement" that is true.

I checked about "shin" and there are actually 47 kanji that ON-read "shin". None that KUN-read so, happily :)

(schmorp just looked up "Shindou" in xjdic, without attention to the actual Kanji, and came up with this: 神童 (しんどう) prodigy; wonder child.

About "Tsutsui ???"(The subtitlers say "Tomihiko" for the first name but I'm not sure), 'tsutsu' (KtoK 1472, KUN) means "the pipe" (yes, hydroponic pipe :) ) and 'i' (KtoK 1193; KUN) means "the well". So is it 'The well of the pipe" ? The first kanji of the first name is KOU,ooyake - "public"/"official" (KtoK 126) and I couldn't figure out what the second one was.

I think you people are reading too much in to the names. Yes they can mean something, all English names have origins and second meanings too, but when Hollywood decides to name a character Jonathan, they're not thinking "ooh, that means gift of God" or Robert means "Bright fame"...

: ViciousMan: The subtitlers are wrong - the guy's given name is Kimihiro - his family name is Tsutsui. Using the Japanese order, his name would be Tsutsui Kimihiro - While the English versions switch the order and call him Kimihiro Tsutsui.

MrKoala: I'll be talking to the person who wrote the previous paragraph, whoever he/she was, and I'll answer to his/her last sentence with "Too bad". Do you know that actually onomastics has a big part in literature ? I disagree with your thought of "They don't think of what the name means". Have you seen "Mrs Doubtfire"? The main character finds a new name in the title of a newspaper story. I'm not saying that they always think of what names they give to their characters, but somtimes they do, especially when they want to have onomastical support for a movie. And I do think that at least the name Shindou Hikaru has not been randomly chosen. Especially because Japanese is a very rich source for names, because names are made of ideograms, ideograms are ideas, ideas are meaning, it would be a shame not to take advantage of that and randomly choose a name that means nothing (or something inappropriate) I don't know if you've read manga called 'Love Hina', but there's a timid little girl in this manga whose name is 'Shinobu'. Among all names, the author chose to call her 'shinobu', which means 'to hide'. There is another girl in this same manga whose name is Aoyama Motoko, a kendoka. Aoyama ("The blue mountain") is the name of a temple. In some other mangas, there is a character named Yuki ("the snow") and who is always someone who appears as pure as snow. But I agree with the fact that they don't always choose the names for onomastical reasons; they would end up calling some characters "Urban", and in my opinion, only a pope should wear such a name :)

Dieter: It is not because Hollywood doesn't choose names in order to emphasize the character that other creators don't. Actually, I can think of many other things but onomastics that the average Hollywood picture leaves out.

MrKoala: But DanK, you're going to scare them! This is only the nasty part of learning kanjis! There are also good parts. You don't need to be insane to learn Japanese. Learning Japanese is goooood for you. Cooooome and learn this beautiful language. Learn the 1945 official kanjis, this is gooooooood for you. :)

DanK: Hehehehehe. Yeah, I know. Right now, having learned to recognize radicals, I'm slogging my way through the kanji with flashcards and the like... I find Japanese a very rewarding language. I do encourage people to be aware that it's a lot of work though!

Arashi: Japanese people put a great emphasis in the meaning of the names, more than occidentals do, and when mangakas create a character sometimes they play with the characters' names. I have studied Japanese for five years, they do not follow a particular grammar rule when naming people. For example, Hikaru as a name don't have to be "to shine" because that is the verb pronuntiation. Since it is a name, it is taken as the basic meaning of the kanji, even if written in katakana or hiragana (for the verb form you would write the kanji and then the hiragana part after it specifying it is a verb and not a noun) Therefore, "Hikaru" is "light", and the title of the manga is a word game, meaning at the same time, Hikaru's go and The shining go. The first thing that surprised me when I first read "Hikaru no go" is that three characters share the same meaning for their names: Hikaru, Akira and Akari are three ways of saying the same thing: light.

MrKoala: I didn't notice about Akari (like in "tsukiakari", "moonlight"), but you're right! Anyway, what about Kaga, like in "kagayaku" ("to shine")? :) The onomastics would have been perfect if the author called the main character "Hikari". Problem is: this is a feminine name :) "Hikaru" fits both boys and girls.

Jasonred : as shown in Magic Night Rayearth or something. Anyhow, that's nothing, the confusion caused by the ambigousness os the name "Sai"...

Manta: Another interesting name is Sai. The first part of his name is written as (佐) "Sa", which means assist or help. The second part (為) "I" has the kun reading of "tame" which means benefit or sake. I thought that fit Sai's character well.

Hadou Ken: A quick note about Kuwabara Honinbo. In Japan, superstitious people sometimes mutter "kuwabara kuwabara" when something seems, shall we say, "uncanny."

fnord: 'Kuwabara' (桑原) literally means 'mulberry field'. Why 'mulberry field, mulberry field' should mean 'My G-d!' is so far unknown to me...

Dmajor:I think that Kuwabara is actually an onomatopoeia for the sounds that ghosts make or something along that line.

Hadou Ken: Well, unless I'm missing something in Japanese folklore, the meaning 'mulberry field' is probably just coincidence. I know that Kuwabara is a not an unknown name in Japanese. It is used in a few anime that I've seen, and, not surpisingly, the character usually has something to do with ghosties, psychics, or other strange phenomena.

ixo111?: Hmm .. isn't Mulberry one of the more popular woods for the crafting of bowls?

TimBrent Also looking in GoBase,the name Kuwahara has the same Kanji--and of course,Sai was Kurahara Torajiro,a/k/a Shusaku. I wonder if in Hikaru,the name was chosen for the Honinbo for that as well as for the reasons HadouKen has stated.

Madoka: I think the most straightforward interpretation for the name Shindou is "one who is close to / approaching (Shin) someone / something." In this case it would be someone, and that person is Sai. For Dou is the on-yomi of Fuji(wara), which is Sai's last name.

Jasonred : I tried looking up their names on the official web site, and used babelfish to translate... interesting results!

Shindo translates to Shin Rattan!!! You know, kendo, that rattan/bamboo sword thing? heargh...

Isumi is "Italy Angle"...

I got Fujiwara Sai as "for the sake of Sai"... I thought it was actually some storyline text, but that's the translation of his name??? How strangely appropriate!!!

Other crazy results also exist, heh heh heh.

There's a couple of notes on names in HnG on [ext] -- I'd noticed the Hikaru/Akari thing, but it's amusing that all the schools are named after fish. --azz

Dormilich?: I looked up the kanji for 'Shindou' at Jim Breen's and wadoku-jiten... interesting. 'shin' means to advance, proceed, progress (as already said) and 'dou' is wistaria (a flowering plant).

Michael?: By looking through the kanjis, 'Shin'=progress, forward, 'dou'=wisteria & 'Hikaru'=bright. 'Fuji'=wisteria, 'wara' = field, 'sa'=to assist and 'i' is being. 'Tou'=tower, 'ya'=arrow, 'Akira'=shine Also as 'wara' has a meaning of origin, 'fuji' has a sense of complexity. Therefore my personal translation of these names would be:

  • 'Shindou Hikaru' = The bright star through progress. (Brightness through progress of the wisteria)
  • 'Fujiwara no Sai' = The one to assist Hikaru to become the 'star'. (The being to assist at the origin of the wisteria, which Hikaru walks through)
  • 'Touya Akira' = The top player who shines over the Igo players. (Shines at the top of the tower)

Craig: As a comment on the names, let me introduce you to Kadono Jowa. Jowa is considered the most powerful go player ever by a significant chunk of the Japanese population. However, his status as 'go sage' was essentially swapped to the more wholesome Shusaku due to political machinations not initiated by either of them.

Kadono can also be read Toya.

Finally, the two go sages meet.

mdm: IMHO translating Japanese names is ridiculous. Just imagine everybody called Miller and Baker would actually have that job. For first names, translations might make sense, though. BTW, that Hikaru's name is written in katakana indicates that the kanji his parents (or in fact the author) chose are not in the official jōyō- (1945 kanji learned in school) or jinmei-yō- (284 additional kanji for names) lists.

Zarlan: Normaly yes. There isn't much of a point in translating someones surname. There is often no point in translating the given name either.
In manga/anime though, that isn't true. The names in manga, anime and probably also books and maybe also movies, in japan is often chosen so that the kanji mean things that relate to the person that caries that name. As for Hikaru's name being in katakana, that doesn't have to mean that it is not amongst the jouyou kanji. Some japanese get named without kanji.

Keskiyo?: Often, Japanese mangakas are encouraged by their editors to write the names of the protagonists in katakana, to keep it simple and avoid misreadings. Anon: There's also the fact that the Shonen age group is still learning kanji...

Names In Hikaru No Go last edited by on September 4, 2008 - 23:55
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