Naruto, a famous ninja character or fish cake?

Which do you imagine when you hear “Naruto”? A famous ninja character who has yellow hair and various types of jutsu? Or a white fish cake with a pink or red spiral pattern? If you haven’t heard of the fish cake called Naruto, then I chose a good subject today. The proper name is narutomaki, but it is usually called naruto. Its origin is vailed in mystery, but it is said that it was named after whirlpools in Naruto Straits between Awaji island and Shikoku in Japan, and people in the middle or later in Edo era already ate naruto as a topping for soba or soup.

The fish cake called naruto.

The ingredients are; walleye pollock, red bream, cod fish, and other white fish. After the fish is minced and salts and other seasonings are added, it is shaped and steamed. We don’t see naruto on soba nowadays, but some ramen restaurants serve naruto as a topping on ramen. Not only as a topping for ramen, but naruto is also eaten as an ingredient of Oden (vegetables, fish cake or dumplings and various other food stewed in a thin soy soup, and served hot) and other stewed food in some regions in Japan.

The unique names of characters in NARUTO, anime/manga.

I like NARUTO (not fish cake) very much, but there’s one thing I still don’t get. There are so many characters who have unique and strange names. If you knew the meanings in Japanese, you would found the names are interesting.

I picked up some characters.

Naruto Uzumaki (うずまきナルト) Naruto = fish cake, and uzumaki = swirl.

Sasuke Uchiha(うちはサスケ) Sasuke is a popular name for ninja, and uchiha sounds like uchiwa, which means fan.

Sakura Haruno(春野サクラ) Sakura = cherry blossom, 春 haru = spring, and 野 no = field.

Kakashi Hatake(はたけカカシ) Kakashi = scarecrow, and Hatake = field/farm.

Jiraiya(自来也) Jitaiya is the name of the ninja/thief who is the toad riding character of the Japanese folklore Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari(“The tale of the Gallant Jiraiya”) released in 1806. In this story, Jiraiya falls in love with Tsunade(綱手), a beautiful young maiden who has mastered slug magic.

Orochimaru (大蛇丸) Orochi literally means giant snake or serpent, and maru means circle, but it is often used for men’s name. (like Shikamaru or Konohamaru) Orochimaru is also a character in Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari, and he is a master of serpent magic. In NARUTO, Orochimaru is the arch-enemy of Jiraya, but this story line came from folklore.

Tsunade(綱手) Tsunada literally means mooring rope. Unlike the story in NARUTO, Tsunade became a wife of Jiraiya in Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari.

*The relationship among frog, snake and slug is called Sun-sukumi(三竦み), which literally means three flinches.

In ancient Japan, people believed that a snake eats a frog, a frog eats a slug, and slug melts a snake with its viscous liquid. Actually. it is just imaginery, and slugs’ mucus doesn’t have such power, but if this ancient theory was correct, a frog could eat a slug, but at the same time it could be eaten by a snake. If it didn’t eat a slug, the slug might attack snake instead of the frog. This relationship is the example that nobody can move without thinking deeply. I think three first Pokémon is a better example than frog, snake and slug. The first Pokémon you can get is fire, water or grass type. Fire type is stronger than grass type, but it is weaker than water type, and grass type is stronger than water type.

Shikamaru Nara(奈良シカマル) Shika means deer, and 奈良 nara is one of prefectures name in Japan. There is a famous park that wild deers live in Nara.

Ino Yamanaka(山中イノ) Ino might be short for Inobuta, which means boar in English, 山Yama = mountain, 中naka = inside,

Chouji Akimichi (秋道チョウジ) 秋 Aki = fall/autumn, 道 michi = road/street, chou = butterfly

*What is Inoshikachou(猪鹿蝶)? If you have watched NARUTO, you might have heard the above three characters are called “Inoshikachou”. Inoshikacho is a combination of cards in hanafuda, which is playing cards of Japanese origin that are used to play a number of games. Ino is short for inoshishi, that means boar in English, shika is deer and chou is butterfly.

Kurenai Yuhi(夕日紅) 紅 Kurenai = crimson red, and 夕日 Yuhi = setting sun

Hinata Hyuga(日向ヒナタ) Hinata = a sunny place, 日向 Hyuga is a Japanese family name, but it also means sunny place.

Kiba Inuzuka(犬塚キバ) Kiba = fang, 犬 inu = dog, and 塚 zuka = mound

Neji Hyuga(日向ネジ) Neji = screw

Konohamaru Sarutobi(猿飛木ノ葉丸) 木ノ葉 Konoha = leaf, 猿 saru = monkey, and 飛 tobi = flying

Ebisu(エビス) Ebisu is the name of Japanese god of wealth

Hashirama Senju(千手柱間) 柱 Hashira = pillar/pole, 間 ma = between/among, 千 sen= thousand, and 手 ju= hand

Tobirama Senju(千手扉間) 扉 Tobira = door

Kawarama Senju(千手瓦間) 瓦 Kawara = roof-tile

Itama Senju(千手板間) 板間 Itama = wooden floor

Minato Namikaze(波風ミナト) Minato = harbor/port, 波nami = wave, 風kaze = wind

Ibiki Morino(森野イビキ) Ibiki = snore, 森 mori = forest, 野 no = field

Anko Mitarashi(みたらしアンコ) Anko = red beans paste, mitarashi = sweet sauce for dumplings

Tsume Inuzuka(犬塚ツメ) Tsume = nail

Iruka Umino(うみのイルカ) Iruka = dolphin, and umi = sea

Itachi Uchiha(うちはイタチ) Itachi = weasel

Madara Uchiha(うちはマダラ) Madara = spots/speckles/patches *Nyanko-sensei from Natsume’s Book of Friends has the same name, 斑Madara

Temari(テマリ) Handball

Haku(白) white

Samui(サムイ) 寒い cold, but it also used for something not funny

Atsui(アツイ) 暑い/熱い hot

Omoi (オモイ) 重い heavy

Karui(カルイ) 軽い light

When I read the story that Samui, Atsui, Omoi, and Karui appeared, I thought like “Seriously? What is the writer thinking about?” I guess Mr.Kishimoto, the writer of NAUTO didn’t have enough time to think about his characters’ names…

What is your favorite name in NARUTO?


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