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locust shell

Kanji for Rokugani Names

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Writing Rokugani Names in Kanji
緑岩人の苗字の書き方 (Rokugan-jin no myōji no kakikata)


A while ago I posted a version of this list of family name kanji on the AEG forum, filled in mostly by me but with a lot of interesting discussion and input from other posters there. Most foolishly, I made updates right in the original post and didn't keep an offline copy, so the whole thing is stuck behind the Great Wall of Mystery/Apathy now. It took a while, but my annoyance at not having access to the list has eventually come to outweigh my annoyance at having to type it all out again, and I've reconstructed it as best I could from memory--fortunately a bit faster than creating it in the first place.

The original list was a work in progress, and that's definitely still true. Let me know if I've missed anything, or if you have any suggestions for more optimal renderings.

Disclaimers
- I'm not a native speaker of Japanese (and on a basic level my kanji reading is probably pretty inflected by Chinese).
- Rokugan Is Not Japan anyway, and using kanji probably isn't entirely canonical (sources differ). This is just for funsies.
- Please please don't use this to get a kanji tattoo ("don't get a kanji tattoo" is almost never not good advice, anyway).

 

So what is this good for?

I originally started working on it because I wanted to create "seal" graphics for RPG characters. (EDIT: see this post downthread for some tools for generating seals.) You can use names in kanji to sign in-character letters as gaming table props, decorate character sheets, make deck backers, in artwork, whatever. These days I sometimes even use name kanji as part of my brainstorming process when coming up with NPCs and the like.

But what about given (personal) names?

EDIT: see this post downthread for some more personal name resources.

In the original version of this post I was able to link to a bunch of threads on the AEG forum full of advice and inspiration for choosing given names for L5R characters. Alas, all fallen behind the veil of oblivion now. If you've got favorite resources, please share! I might try to dig up some links as I've got time/inclination later.

Once you have got a name, in general, as long as it is pronounceable in Japanese (that is, it would be possible to write it out in the syllabic alphabet), you'll be able to represent it with kanji one way or another, even if—like some of the names below—you end up with a purely phonetic transliteration.

Try taking your character name to WWWJDIC and typing the English spelling into the search box (for this purpose, don't tick the "Search using romanized Japanese" button), then select "Japanese Names (ENAMDICT)" from the drop-down menu. You'll get a list of names that match all or part of the pronunciation you've used. Names marked with (s) are surnames, (m) are masculine, (f) are feminine, (p) are places and so on. You can select entries to examine the meanings of individual component kanji. If you don't find what you're looking for right away, try varying the length of vowels in your search word (o/ou, u/uu, i/ii, e/ei).


A Note on Methods
For L5R families whose names come from "real" modern Japanese ones, I generally grabbed the most commonly used written form according to this surname dictionary. For some families less common versions have been used, if they seemed much more apropos to me or other posters on the last version of this thread.

For the most part, to avoid unintentionally doing something ridiculous, I tried to stick to "real," existing names whenever possible--including place- and personal names if necessary.

When fabricating kanji for names that just don't exist in the real world, I played around with WWWJDIC and the surname dictionary to try to make sure I was (as much as possible) using kanji that are reasonably common in personal and family names, with plausible pronunciations. Some are... probably more plausible than others, but so it goes. Pronunciation of kanji used in names is often very idiosyncratic in any case.

 

Key
Entries are in the format:
Name - kanji - pronunciation (if different from the L5R spelling) – meaning

I've also included the kanji for the clans' totem animals, except when that's exactly the same as a Minor Clan's ruling family name, in which case I didn't bother to put it in twice. The Great Clans ones weren't made up by me; they're from... Great Clans.

† = this is a "real" name or word, but not actually a surname (might be the name of a place, a personal name, or other noun)
* = this kanji combo is totally made-up (and would probably be gibberish to a Japanese reader)

In the pronunciations, long O and U vowels are written with macrons (ō, ū), but you might also have seen the same sounds written "ou" and "uu." Couldn't remember which spelling convention I used in the original list...

 

If for some reason the kanji don't display properly, try changing your browser's text encoding (usually in the "View" menu). Unicode should work, as long as your OS is new enough to have Asian fonts installed by default.



Okay, here we go!
_____________________


Great Clans
Crab - - kani
Hida - 飛騨 - "flying gray horse" (there are many ways of writing "Hida" as a surname and this is far from the most common, but last time around other posters preferred it since it uses more dramatic kanji and was the name of a Warring States province)
Hiruma - 昼間 - "daylight room, dawn room"
Kaiu - * 界宇 - kaiyū - "boundary + building"
Kuni - 邦 – "country, kingdom, one's homeland, " (some posters last time preferred a bit more thematic set of kanji, so we collectively came up with the made-up alternative *究迩 - "study + get near to")
Yasuki - 安喜 - peace and happiness (or, at a slant, "happiness on the cheap")

Crane - - tsuru
A sahina - 朝比奈 - morning + compare + what?
Daidoji - 大道寺 - daidōji - great way temple
Doji - 堂路 - dōji - temple path
Kakita - 柿田 - persimmon field

Dragon - - ryū
Kitsuki - * 木月 - tree + moon
Mirumoto - * 実留本 - "truth/fruit/substance + stay + root or essence" (modeled on the real name "Kurumoto 久留本")
Tamori - 多森 - thick forest
Togashi - 富樫 - abundant evergreen oak

Lion - 獅子 - shishi
Akodo - * 赤穂堂 - akōdō - "red grain-ear shrine" (Akō is a place-name)
Ikoma - 生駒 - the "horse" piece in Shogi; a noble clan during the Warring States period
Kitsu - 吉 - good fortune, auspicious divination result
Matsu - 松 - pine
Shimizu - 清水 - pure water

Mantis - 蟷螂 - kamakiri
Kitsune - † 狐 - fox
Moshi - † 虫 - mushi - bug/insect
Tsuruchi - * 弦知 - "bowstring + wisdom" (there is a real surname "Tsuruchi," but it incorporates the character for "crane," which seemed unnecessarily confusing)
Yoritomo - † 頼朝 - "reliant on the dawn" or "reliant on the dynasty" (personal name of a famous historical figure)

Phoenix - 不死鳥 - fushichō - "undying bird" (not really sure why they didn't go with the 鳳凰 hō-ō native to East Asian mythology--it's not fire-y enough, perhaps?)
Agasha - * 阿賀沙 - "ah + celebrate + sand" (totally phonetic, though "Aga" is a place-name)
Asako - 朝古 - "facing the ancient past; ancient dawn"
Isawa - 石和 - "peace of stones"
Shiba - 柴 - "firewood, brush, fuel" (common written form of this surname).
(However, some posters last time preferred the much-less-common "Shiba" - 司馬 - name of a Warring States clan; surname of a famous ancient Chinese historian, meant "minister of war" in very ancient China)

Scorpion - - sasori
Bayushi - * 倍勇士 - baiyūshi - "twofold hero"
Shosuro - * 晶朱露 - shōsuro – "crystal scarlet dew" (totally phonetic, but used a long O since the original Shosuro is supposed to have named herself after the verb 称する shōsuru "to call oneself")
Soshi - 曽志 - "ambition of former times." (The most common name with this pronunciation is曾雌, lit. "once-upon-a-time female," but I didn't use that one because it actually seemed too on-the-nose for the identity-shifting Shosuro/Soshi--whom we know to have had a weakness for homophones and puns.)
Yogo - 余語 - "my speech/words"

Spider - 蜘蛛 - kumo
Chuda - 忠田 - chūda - "field of loyalty"
Daigotsu - * 大悟津 - "great enlightenment harbor" ("Daigo" or "Daigorō" is a somewhat archaic personal name)
Goju - † 剛柔 - gōjū - "firmness and softness," a real-world karate style
Kokujin - * 黒人 - this is actually the word used for real-world humans of African descent, so… nice going there, guys. >_<
Ninube - * 忍宇部 - "nin" (endurance) from "忍者 ninja" + place name "Ube"
Susumu - † 進 - "advancing" (personal name)
Order of the Spider - * 蜘蛛宗 - kumo shū - I'm afraid I don't remember which poster suggested using "shū" (which often designates Buddhist sects) here, but it was a good call!
Order of Venom - * 毒宗 - doku shū

Unicorn - 一角獣 - ikkakujū - lit. "one-horned beast" (or, in the Dawn of the Empire setting, Ki-rin 麒麟)
Horiuchi - 堀内 - "canal + within"
Ide - 井出 - "well + come out"
Iuchi - 井内 - "well + within"
Moto - * 元 - "source, basic element"; same kanji as the name of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty which ruled China in the 13-14th centuries
Otaku - 小宅 - "small house"
Shinjo - 新城 - shinjō - "new castle" (However, with the same pronunciation there's also神成 "divine achievement"—it's less than 1/3 as common, and much more likely to be pronounced "Kannari" instead, but perhaps more thematically suitable?)
Utaku - * 宇宅 - "building + house"


Minor Clans:
Badger - 穴熊 - anaguma
Ichiro - † 一郎 - ichirō - "firstborn son" (personal name)

Bat
Komori - † 蝙蝠 - kōmori

Boar - - inoshishi
Heichi - 平地 - "plains" or "peaceful land"

Centipede - 蜈蚣 - mukade
Moshi - † 虫 - mushi - bug

Dragonfly
Tonbo - 蜻蛉

Falcon - - taka
Toritaka - * 鳥鷹 - "bird + falcon"

Fox
Kitsune - † 狐 - fox

Hare
Usagi - † 兎 - rabbit
Ujina - † 宇品 - a place name

Monkey - - saru
Toku - † 徳 - "virtue" (which of course makes the original Toku "Mr. Virtue, the Fortune of Virtue," but anyway)

Oriole - - uguisu
Tsi - † 智 - there is no "tsi" sound in Japanese or Chinese, so best guess. Chinese "zhr"/Japanese "chi" - wisdom

Ox - - ushi
Morito - 森藤 - moritō - forest wisteria

Snake - - hebi
Chuda - 忠田 - chūda - "field of loyalty"

Sparrow
Suzume - 雀 - tree sparrow

Tortoise - - kame
Kasuga - 春日 - spring sun

Wasp - - hachi
Tsuruchi - * 弦知 - "bowstring + wisdom" (there is a real surname "Tsuruchi," but it incorporates the character for "crane," which seemed unnecessarily confusing)


Imperial families - 皇族 - kōzoku
Miya - 宮 - "palace," "royal personage"
Otomo - 大友 - ōtomo - "great friend"; a historical noble clan
Seppun - *節雰 - "section/season/moral integrity + mist" (in fact, I gather this family name was originally a play on 接吻 "kiss" for a sycophantic courtier character, but here's a rather more elegant possible homophone)

Hantei - * 范定 - pattern or law + establish, so "establishing the patterns [of society]." Rather loosely modeled on Chinese reign-period names
Toturi - 鳥取 - tottori - "bird + take"; both a surname, and the name of a feudal domain ruled by the Ikeda clan and later of a modern prefecture (there is no "tu" sound in Japanese, so the best we can do is something close-enough)
Iweko - † 依恵子 (1) or 為恵子 (2) - ieko - personal name which would have been written "Iweko" before spelling reform dispensed with the "we" syllable. I like these writing forms, which mean "reliant upon blessing" (1) and "acting for/embodying blessing" (2), depending on just how much divine mojo Iweko I has in your version of Rokugan.


Ronin families - 浪人の氏
Kaeru - † 蛙 - frog
Yotsu - 四津 - "four harbors" ( the original Yotsu could have gone by simply 四つ "Four," but if so, this would have been a nice way to pretty it up into a proper surname)

Edited by locust shell

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Interesting that you chose to approach Ninube as Nin'ube -- I'd always pronounced it Ni-nube instead, but I imagine the other is easier to get kanji for.

 

Yep, dearth of plausible kanji read "nu" was part of the motivation, as I remember. The other major reason, of course, was that using the "nin-" (忍) of "ninja" and "ninjutsu" seemed too good to pass up.

 

I also figured the distinction in pronunciation between nin-u-be and ni-nu-be is pretty negligible (if it's detectable/reproducible at all) to most speakers of european languages, unless they've already studied a foreign language that requires thinking of sound in syllables...

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As an appendix to the list, here are the best of the crop of online generators for seal/chop images:

 

#1: http://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/seal.html

 

doji_choujiro_seal.pngtogashi_myo-en_seal.png

 

This one has a nice selection of fonts and other options and produces a good-looking graphic. Some more obscure kanji aren't available in the fancier fonts (they'll show up as blank spaces), but the font options in box 4 should cover almost everything--including the second character of "Togashi," for example, in the seal on the right.

 

It is a bit buggy, however. If you have multiple columns of characters, it will lay them out in zigzag order:

5 4 1

6 3 2

 

which is silly and not like any seal I've ever seen. But it's not that hard to compensate by scrambling the order in which you input your kanji ("1 2 4 3 5..." instead of "1 2 3 4 5...") so that the seal comes out in the "right" order.

 

It also seems to be impossible to de-select "Use traditional seal characters to fill in the empty spaces," which sticks an extra character (印 - in - "seal/stamp") at the end if you've got an odd number of kanji, so that the text reads "Seal of (name)." See the left-hand example above. This doesn't bother me, since it's common enough in the "real" thing--though for a three-character name you might want to input your kanji as "1 2 印 4" so that the 印 appears in the correct place at the lower left.

 

#2: http://sca.scripts.mit.edu/inshou/

 

suzume_norie_seal.png

 

This one can only handle names up to 4 kanji long, with a single choice of font. If you input a character not supported by that font, and it can't find a close enough match, it will leave a blank space. You'll also have to screencap the result as there's no way to save it directly. But it puts the kanji in the correct order without help, and does a fancier job arranging three-character text strings, as you can see above.

 

 

#3: DIY

 

If you are good (or moderately skilled but patient) with graphics programs, you can of course make your own graphic, which can be customized to your heart's content. Free fonts for various calligraphy styles, including "seal script," are out there for the Google-ing, though as above, the more exotic fonts might not support all characters. Here's a site offering some fancy Japanese fonts for free download. (That one ought to support hiragana and katakana too, for all your Gaijin Name needs.) Here's one of the many Chinese seal script fonts. (I just downloaded that one to test it out and found it requires Simplified Chinese character variants in some cases, though.) Some of the Heidelberg Chinese fonts are very lovely, but I haven't figured out how to get them to play nice on my computer yet. And so on and on. Probably a good idea to type out your text in a plainer, more legible font and make sure you've got all the kanji right before converting to one of these fonts...

 

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Update!
 
Personal name resources
 
Tracked down links to a couple of the resources for choosing a character's personal/given name that had circulated on the old boards in various forms. So:
 
Society for Creative Anachronism page on medieval Japanese nomenclature, with kanji (scroll about halfway down for the section on men's given names and further down for women's)

PDF of lists of suggested names from the RPG Sengoku (again, scroll down to p. 2 and beyond for given names--they're numbered, so you could even roll up some NPCs with a D100)

And as I mentioned in the first post, if you want to kanji-fy any of these names, you can head to the WWWJDIC, enter the name (in the latin alphabet) in the search box, and select "Japanese Names (ENAMDICT)" from the drop-down. If you want to control your search a bit more to make sure you don't accidentally end up with the name of an obscure train station instead of a person (unlikely, but not impossible!), add "(f)" for a feminine name or "(m)" for a masculine one to your search string.

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Great post!
Some disambiguation that I know..

Kakita, I really can't remenber where I read\heard this, is north man, yeah like kakita himself

Doji, fun fact, is mistake so...

Daidoji is great mistake( dai is translate as great).

Daigotsu, gotsu can be translate like terror scream or howl.

Edited by Daigotsu Arashi

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Wow, haven't checked here in a while!
 
 

Great post!
Some disambiguation that I know..

Kakita, I really can't remenber where I read\heard this, is north man, yeah like kakita himself

 
kita can indeed be a pronunciation of 北 = North. I don't have the slightest idea what character meaning "man" the ka could possibly be if the kita in Kakita was "north," though. Sometimes 家 (variously meaning "home" "family," or "a person who practices a particular skill") can be read ka--like in aikidō-ka, an aikido expert--but then it would fall at the end of the word. It just looks too weird at the beginning.

I'm guessing that wherever you heard this, it's a back-formation--somebody at AEG looked through a phone book (or whatever) to come up with "Kakita," and sometime later someone else who knew a little Japanese mapped the last two syllables of this name as a common kanji they knew, 北. If I could come up with a satisfactory ka I might run with it--though I've never heard anything about the original Kakita coming from the north of Rokugan--but for now this list uses a "real" version (one that exists in modern Japan).
 
 

Doji, fun fact, is mistake so...

Daidoji is great mistake( dai is translate as great).

Daigotsu, gotsu can be translate like terror scream or howl.


Neither of these is true in "real" Japanese AFAIK. I even double-checked the dictionary! In particular there are basically no kanji read gotsu (there's kotsu, "bone," but that's actually not very impressive-sounding), which is why we struggled rather with that entry on the old forum.
 
On the other hand, Rokugan Is Not Japan, and by extension the language of Rokugan isn't really Japanese. So names can mean whatever you want when you're in charge! Kanji are a fun tool to play with but definitely not something that's ever been integral to the setting (or even very well integrated, for that matter).

 

Great to see this back again, I was worried it had disappeared!

Good on you for taking the time to put it all together!

 

Thanks! :D

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Wow, haven't checked here in a while!

 

Neither of these is true in "real" Japanese AFAIK. I even double-checked the dictionary! In particular there are basically no kanji read gotsu (there's kotsu, "bone," but that's actually not very impressive-sounding), which is why we struggled rather with that entry on the old forum.

 

On the other hand, Rokugan Is Not Japan, and by extension the language of Rokugan isn't really Japanese. So names can mean whatever you want when you're in charge! Kanji are a fun tool to play with but definitely not something that's ever been integral to the setting (or even very well integrated, for that matter).

 

Thing about Japanese is... often when you have a word that comes from two kanji, the second kanji gets a dark sound.

 

t becomes d

k becomes g

h becomes b

 

Not that it helps you any because 大 at the beginning of a name is almost certain to be pronounced "O" At least every time I have seen it at the beginning of a name it has been "O".

 

For "Miya" there are probably a dozen better options than what you have there for the least royal of the imperial families. Maybe 美也, 見矢,美野, 三家, 三弥, 三矢 or 美夜.

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Wow, haven't checked here in a while!

 

Neither of these is true in "real" Japanese AFAIK. I even double-checked the dictionary! In particular there are basically no kanji read gotsu (there's kotsu, "bone," but that's actually not very impressive-sounding), which is why we struggled rather with that entry on the old forum.

 

On the other hand, Rokugan Is Not Japan, and by extension the language of Rokugan isn't really Japanese. So names can mean whatever you want when you're in charge! Kanji are a fun tool to play with but definitely not something that's ever been integral to the setting (or even very well integrated, for that matter).

 

Thing about Japanese is... often when you have a word that comes from two kanji, the second kanji gets a dark sound.

 

 

Yep, we went back and forth about the rendaku issue on the old forum, hence my comment above about also checking "kotsu."  It's a bigger problem with the names that had to be made up from whole cloth, and thus a major reason I tried to stick to matching or building off of existing names instead--c.f. Kitsuki (anyway you write it could, and perhaps should, be read "kizuki" instead), Daigotsu (-->daigozu), etc. Trouble is there are no hard and fast rules for rendaku, other than "when it happens, it happens," so.  That's why I grabbed a compound for Daigotsu in which I knew the "go" was at least definitely "go" (and not "ko"), even if then adding the "tsu" kanji on the end was a bit dodgy.

 

 

For "Miya" there are probably a dozen better options than what you have there for the least royal of the imperial families. Maybe 美也, 見矢,美野, 三家, 三弥, 三矢 or 美夜.

 

Miya may be the least royal of the Imperial families in some ways of looking at Rokugan (kinda debatable; for my part I wouldn't say they're less "royal" than the Seppun in any meaningful way) but they're still much more so than everyone else in the Empire. And it seems pretty obviously likely that 宮 is the word whomever originally named the family had in mind. In the surname dictionary I originally used (which I linked in the OP), it's also listed as being significantly more common in actual use than any of the ones you've suggested (the only more-common way of writing it is apparently 三谷*), and none of the handful of other writings seemed notably more fitting in terms of meaning/implications, so I ran with it. Miya are the Emperor's mouths across the empire, after all. When you hear a Miya herald proclaiming ex cathedra, you are in fact, in a sense, hearing the voice of the Imperial Palace.

 

*edit: and now that I've looked back/googled around at more leisure, 三谷 is more often pronounced mitani and not miya anyhow. 三矢, the third most common, is actually usually pronounced mitsuya. So the Miya-version that ended up on the list is indeed by far the most typical surname with that pronunciation, as far as I can tell.

Edited by locust shell

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