Makoto Kowata – onamae wa?

Hello!

Today I’ll teach you guys a beginner magic spell. Don’t worry, it is appropriate to entry-level witches. It goes like this…

Uh? You are not a witch, you say? 困りますね (koma.rimasune; That is a problem!). Guess I’ll have to look for someone else. Wonder where I can find a good, lovely and adorable witch… oh right!

Our magic lesson today involves exploring 木幡 (Ko.wata) 真琴 (Ma.koto), main protagonist of Flying Witch, a soothing slice of life show currently airing. Due to the magical properties of this article, it is recommended to have watched up to Episode 3 to avoid spoiler side-effects.

Makoto “Mako” Kowata

木幡 真琴

makoto1

She goes by Makoto, Mako-nee, Mako-chan. What a lovely girl! Character design is perfect, adorable personality and woah, what a great work so far by Minami Shinoda, her first big role in Anime! Hoping to see her around more from now on. As the new witch in town, she is still getting settled to life on the countryside and it seems she hasn’t practiced much magic in a while. Let’s help her out by looking for anything magical in her name. Mako-nee, お名前は?

 

As usual, first will be her Family Name, 木幡 (Ko.wata):

kihata

If you are already familiar with Hiragana, you will notice that 幡 doesn’t even have a [wata] reading. Closest would be its 訓読み (kun.yomi), はた (hata). This is also very recurring in Japanese, especially when it comes to naming. 木幡 itself has a lot of possible readings, such as Kibata, Kihata, Kiwata, Kiman, Kohata, Kobata and our case, Kowata. You can pretty much tell that using [wata] just makes it even more difficult. How, you ask? Let’s see an example.

If you tell a Japanese person that your name is Tanaka, you can be certain that they will picture 田中 (Ta.naka) as how your name is written. If your parents were the fancy type, you’d have to go out of your way and say “(…) but it is written as 多 from 多分 (ta.bun; maybe) and 仲 from 仲間 (naka.ma; partner, colleage)”. Imagine the hassle! So Mako-chan here would probably say that her name is Kowata, but probably using Kihata (the most natural reading for 木幡) to explain its Kanji.

Upon some research this name is more popular around 福島県 (Fuku.shima.ken, 県 meaning prefecture), which happens to be in 東北 (Tou.hoku; northeast portion of Japan main island) area, although on the opposite end of 青森県 (Ao.mori.ken), where the Anime takes place.

touhoku

Speaking of which, in Japan there are actually three 駅 (eki; train station) named 木幡駅: Kobata Station in Kobe; and Kohata and Kowata in Uji, side-by-side stations featuring different lines. As a trivia, those last two are the closest stations to Kyoto Animation Head Office, so keep that in mind if you ever go there.

So, where were we again? Oh right. 木幡 (Ko.wata). Nothing much to see here, I guess. Tree, flag. Aside of apparently being a name more popular in 東北 (Tou.hoku) while featuring as Train Station names on 関西 (Kan.sai), there isn’t much to relate to our Makoto-chan here. At most, we can point out that it is not the most common reading of 木幡, so this could be associated with Kei-kun describing her to Nao-chan as a 奇々怪々 (ki.ki.kai.kai; strange, bizarre) in Episode 1. Kinda rude, this Kei-kun, to call such adorable girl, exhaling old Japanese style in her soft, harmonious voice… oh!

There is a much more common way to write Kowata: 小和田 (Ko.wa.ta). This brings 小 (small), 和 (Japanese style, harmonious, peace) and 田 (rice field, related to country side, etc). That would have fit Makoto-chan much better! Oh well…

Not a lot of progress on her Surname, so let’s see if there is any magic in her given name, 真琴 (Ma.koto):

makoto

Ohh, now we are talking! Right away we have 真, commonly associated with truth, reality, purity and genuineness. Such are the right words to be address to our lovely Makoto-chan! But wait, there is more.

琴 (kin; more specifically 古琴 Guqin)  is a traditional Chinese musical instrument featuring 7-strings. Based on it was created 箏/琴 (koto; both Kanji are used), a 13-string instrument that would become the official national musical instrument of Japan. I’m pretty sure you have heard it before, but you can check this beautiful presentation here on Youtube. Soothing, isn’t? Calming, right? Like Makoto. You can even feel her politeness in it!

So Makoto would be something like a Pure Koto, a True Koto. A pure instrument that calms the mind, as she does. In fact, another way to write Makoto would be 誠 (makoto), once again bringing the idea of Truth, Sincerity, Honesty. Thinking again, Makoto is so honest and sincere that it seems almost weird to the outsiders:

1

While doing it from the bottom of her heart, her actions often goes out of what one would expect from common sense. Well, true honesty is something hardly compatible with how our society works nowadays. Only magic could make it possible.

Time to wrap up our magic research! Using that kanji variation 小和田 (Ko.wa.ta) we have a relation to Traditional Japanese countryside, then we have 真琴 which carries in it the very national instrument of Japan, capable of soothing anyone! When you relate it to a lovely, traditional (even though she lived 6 years in a major city like Yokohama) girl like Makoto, doesn’t it feel just right?

Our spell is ready! 木幡(Ko.wata)真琴(Ma.koto), new witch in town on Flying Witch:

2

A traditional Japanese girl possessing a soothing personality like the sound of a Koto.

Flying Witch is currently being very highly praised by the Anime Community, from what I’ve been reading. Up to week 3 I ranked it as my 3rd Favorite on Spring 2016. Give it a try if you like Slice of Life, you won’t regret! Thanks all for your time, hope to see you all next weekend.

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