Behind the Story of “Blood and Tears” – What’s In a Name?

Behind the Story of “Blood and Tears” – What’s In a Name?

June 2, 2018 Behind the Story Blog Blood and Tears History Japan Social Fiction 0

富士山
Source: Pixabay

I tried to select character names consistent with the late Edo/early Meiji period. You may notice the women’s names do not use the -ko suffix, which aren’t common until much later. Also note the addition of the honorific O- prefix, which is rarely used in modern times except by geisha.

Since the women are not members of the samurai social class, they do not have family surnames or crests. To help differentiate themselves, especially when making first introductions, they would often include an additional descriptor, such as O-Hatsu of Hachigoya (name of her work), or O-Bun of Itabashi (name of her hometown). While they did not have family crests (which are officially listed in government registers), many merchants and tradesman had logos they used to advertise their business, much as companies do today.

As a member of the samurai class, Usaburo has a family surname and crest. Japanese names list the surname first. An example of his family crest is illustrated in Blood and Tears, episode 7 (09JUL).

It was common practice for men of all classes to have names that identified their birth order. In a samurai family, the eldest son was often named using a derivative of the father’s name.

In this story, Usaburo’s father is named Takemori and his older brother is Takeyoshi. The middle brother is named Tojiro. The -jiro suffix includes the character for ‘2’, indicating he is the second son in the family. Usaburo’s name includes the character for ‘3’, indicating he is the third son.

Character names and translations:
山城卯三郎: Yamashiro Usaburo (Mountain Castle, Third Son born in Rabbit Year)
お初: O-Hatsu (First/Eldest Daughter)
お冨: O-Bun (Bounty, Wealth)

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