Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #53, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
Our guest today is 桜木(sakura.gi) ひな子(hina.ko), main protagonist of Hinako Note, a slice of life comedy Anime currently airing on Spring 2017. Nothing much to spoil here!
桜木(sakura.gi) ひな子(hina.ko) is an adorable girl who came from the countryside to Tokyo. Despite having trouble speaking in front of others (and also exactly because of that) she joins a theater club. She currently lives in a boardhouse which is also a secondhand bookstore and a cafe. Plot is very simple, but I’m quite impressed by how cute and funny this turned out to be. On the other hand, I was apprehensive that it wouldn’t have good material for name analysis. We are here already, so there is no turning back. お名前は？
Family Name: 桜木(sakura.gi)
桜木(sakura.gi) is a very straightforward name formed by simple kanji and following a basic pattern that we have seen here many times. As of 2015 it was the 1.769th most used surname in Japan (Source, Japanese only). Variations include 桜樹(sakura.gi) and 櫻木(sakura.gi), both just using different kanji that convey the exact same meaning.
桜 is widely known because of 桜(sakura; Cherry Blossom) but there are a lot of interesting trivia here.
By adding 肉(niku; meat), we get 桜肉(sakura.niku), which isn’t cherry blossom meat, no. It refers instead to 馬肉(uma.niku; Horse Meat). It was initially thought that this was either due to horse meat having a color similar to sakura or that horses which were well fed during Spring (staple cherry blossom season) would provide a rich and delicious meat by Winter. First theory was considered improbable because horse meat was mainly eaten cooked so it would get closer to a brown color. As for the second one, it just seemed way too farfetched with no real evidence for that claim. Where would that come from then? According to this site (source, Japanese only), this was a disguised way to talk about horse meat during the long history of meat consumption prohibition in Japan that started in 675 A.D. by Emperor Tenmu under the influence of Buddhism (more on this in this great article, available in English!). In order to talk about these banned goods, people came up with variant names such as 牡丹(bo.tan; a flower named Moutan peony) for boar meat, 紅葉(momiji; lit. autumn leaf color) for deer meat and, similarly, 桜(sakura; cherry blossom) for horse meat.
Last week I started reading the Visual Novel Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, which had an Anime adaptation on Summer 2012. There was this scene where someone used yet another interesting use for 桜. Sometimes appearing in katakana, サクラ(sakura) refers to decoys or fake buyers. On that scene, one of the candidates for President of the School Council had hired “fake” supporters to cheer for him in order to trick people into believing he was widely popular. I spoke about this when talking about Riko-chan from Love Live! Sunshine on [Onamae wa? #23]:
桜内(sakura.uchi) is very feminine name, meaning the one who has an inner cherry blossom. 桜(sakura) is one of the kanji for the famous tree (the other being 櫻, only used in names). It is featured in related words like 桜桃(sakuran.bo; edible cherry) and 観桜(kan.ou; cherry blossom viewing. This can also be named 花見(hana.mi)). On the other hand, there is also a hideous usage for this kanji, as 桜(sakura) can also be used to describe someone who is being paid to encourage or to falsely act encouraged, like in an auction, internet forums and political debates. In this sense, 桜内(sakura.uchi) would lose that previous beautiful meaning, giving space to a disturbing the one who is a fake deep inside. (Un)fortunately I can’t figure a way to link this to Riko-chan. (Read more here)
木 means tree and plays a supporting role in 桜木(sakura.gi), so nothing much to add.
As to how to link this name to Hina-chan… hmm. Names involving 桜, like 桜内(sakura.uchi) from the quoted block above, are usually rather feminine. Maybe associating her introvert personality that prevents her speech to fully blossom… hmm. Well, guess we will have to settle with that for now.
- 桜木(sakura.gi) 花道(hana.michi) from Slam Dunk (Fall 1993)
- 桜木(sakura.gi) ゆかり(yukari) from Another (Winter 2012)
- 桜木(sakura.gi) 涼太(ryou.ta) from Ame-iro Cocoa (Spring 2015)
Typing “(…) usually rather feminine (…)” and right after mentioning the Rebound King from Slam Dunk is rather funny.
Given Name: ひな子(hina.ko)
While 桜木(sakura.gi) didn’t really feel like it was perfectly tailored for our guest, her given name couldn’t be more blatantly obvious. It can be written in a myriad of ways, usually including 日 or 陽, both meaning sun/sunshine, in an effort to bless your beloved child with brightness and cheerfulness. And yet the author chose to keep it open, leaving “Hina” as hiragana as ひな子(hina.ko). Coincidence or not, this open a few interesting points.
First we have 鄙(hina; countryside, rural areas) and the already existing word 鄙人(hina.bito; countryfolk, villager). From there it is rather intuitive to come up with 鄙子(hina.ko) to describe a girl from the countryside. This kanji also carries the meaning of something being crude or yet to be refined, once again pinpoint on Hina-chan’s struggle with her speech.
Another kanji is 雛(hiyoko or hina; young bird, chick). Uh… I wonder where I have seen one of those…
Thus 雛子(hina.ko) could simply mean the young girl or, in a direct translation, that girl with the small chick. Worth to point out that 雛 is also used to describe something crude or yet to be refined, like the above mentioned 鄙, thus reinforcing the idea of a girl who has yet to mature. Pretty nice name!
- 乾(inui) 日向子(hi.na.ko) from Shokugeki no Souma (Spring 2015)
- 椎崎(shii.zaki) 雛子(hina.ko) from Date A Live (Spring 2013)
- 九条(ku.jou) 緋那子(hi.na.ko) from Devil Survivor 2 The Animation (Spring 2013)
Spring. Spring. Spring. Spring. Yes, THIS TIME it is just a coincidence.
桜木(sakura.gi) ひな子(hina.ko), the fledgling bird who came from the countryside.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Surely Hinako Note is not for everyone but if you had a good time watching Gochiusa or any Kirara adaptations, this show is a must. See you all next weekend!