Why do Japanese ships have “maru” affixed to their names? (3)

“Maru” in the Names of Other Things

日本語は英語の下にございます。/ Japanese translation is below the English text.

 This is the third of the five posts on: Why do Japanese ships have “maru” affixed to their names?
=> (1) The Maru Ship: Japanese Ship Names Often End With “Maru”
=> (2) ”Maru” Is A Symbol of Perfection
(3) “Maru” in the Names of Other Things
=> (4) How to Fend Off Demons From Your Baby
=> (5) Modern Japanese Ship Names



1. Precious properties
2. Boys' names
3. Jewels
4. A Korean Root
5. The Chinese god
6. A review thus far

1) Precious Properties

When you read Japanese history, you find many things that had names ending with “maru” other than ships. Some examples are:

[Click to enlarge / 画像をクリックすると拡大します] Swords were important possessions for worriers. 刀剣は武士にとって大切なものでした。

・Onikiri-maru (a sword, “oni-kiri” means demon slashing)
・Kiku-maru (a flute, “kiku” means chrysanthemum)
・Yuki-maru (a dog, “yuki” means snow)

We can only guess, but it seems that people gave names with “maru” in the end to their dear properties like swords, musical instruments, dogs, and so on.

2) Boys’ names

Another prominent example of a “dear property” is a boy baby. People loved girls, too, of course, but in the feudal days, they considered a boy’s presence essential in continuing a family bloodline.

Until the end of the Edo Era, people often named boys with “maru”.

For example:

・Ushiwaka-maru (the childhood name of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, an aristocrat-military commander in the 11th century)
・Mine-maru (the childhood name of Saito Dosan, a feudal lord in the 16th century)
・Chasen-maru (the childhood name of Oda Nobukatsu, a feudal lord in the 16th century)

When the boy came of age, the father or a guardian usually gave him another name for his adult life.

Also, some adults men had “maro” at the end of their names. We think it is a variation of “maru”, partly because sometimes they spelled the name with the Chinese character “maru” but pronounced it “maro”. Also, the adjective for round is “marui” but some say it “maroi”.

Examples of some famous people with names with “maro”:

・Kakinomoto no Hito-maro (a poet in the 7th-8th Century)
・Wake no Kiyo-maro (a government official in the 8th Century)
・Abe no Naka-maro (a scholar in the 8th Century)

3) Jewels

Some noticed “maru” in the names of precious possessions including their heirs and associated it with another meaning of the word. If a circle materializes in the three-dimensional world, it would become a bead or a ball, “tama”.

You can spell “tama” as “玉” or “珠” with Chinese characters, and it means a precious stone such as jade or a pearl.

From here, they maintained that “maru” in names also means jewel and is added to express affinity and care for the bearer.

According to them, ships were very precious and therefore also the subject of the nomination.

4) A Korean root

There is a theory that the word “maru” and its usage in ships’ names came from the Korean language.

According to it, in olden days, Koreans called official buildings “maro” or “maru”. The word was imported into Japanese, and it stayed as “maru” meaning buildings in general.

The Japanese spelled the word “maru” as “丸 (round)” from the sound. It became the origin of such words as “toi-maru”, a river transportation business or their building. From here, some believe that it became a suffix for ship names.

Others say that later, the Japanese used the Korean-oriented “maru” to indicate different sections in the precinct where a castle stands. Today, when we discuss Japanese castles, we commonly use “hon-maru (the main area)”, “ni-no-maru (the second area)”, and “san-no-maru (the third area)”, and the words have a Korean root!

5) The Chinese god

Also, there is a theory to find the origin of “maru” in a Chinese myth.

Legend says that a Chinese god called “白童丸 (Hakudomaru?)” taught humans how to build ships. According to the theory, the Japanese took the last character of his name and put it in their ship names wishing for his protection and it eventually became customary.

6) A review thus far

As we review the various theories in search of the origin of “maru” in ship names, we feel it may have the same reason as “maru” in the names for sons, swords, and other precious things. The reason is that ships must have been very valuable to the owners.

But we still don’t know; why is it the word “maru”? What does it mean? 

By the say, the Korean-origin theory may explain “maru” for ship names and castle sections, but it’s difficult to connect it with the names of precious properties in general.

Also, the Chinese god theory can not explain “maru” in names of other things than ships, either.

Please continue reading: => How to Fend Off Demons From Your Baby

[End of the English post]



=> (1) 「マル・シップ」~日本の船名に「まる」がついていること
=> (2) 「まる」は完全の象徴


1. 貴重な所持品
2. 男児の名前
3. 宝石
4. 韓国語のルーツ
5. 中国の神様
6. ここまでを振り返って


































続きはこちら: => 赤ちゃんを魔物から守る方法


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