Monday, July 26, 2010




Used to wonder why the family name is Amano.
Amano-hara means the heavenly field or the big sky,
Amano-kawa means the heavenly river or the Milky Way.
But still wondered why.

Now the word comes up often in ancient poetry
Past and future,
Billions of stars and galaxies.
That’s not bad at all.


Rebb said...

Keiko, It still mystifies me how intricate it is to construct meaning in the Japanese language.

One question that came to me is do you find the meaning that makes sense to you or do you take all meanings as a whole and realize they all fit, but some more so?

Lovely poem. It has your signature.

keiko amano said...


About mystifying, you are absolutely right. I think so myself. It’s been a lifetime struggle of mine to explain about my name. And my name is quite simple.

“…take all meanings as a whole and realize they all fit, but some more so?”
That’s probably true for most of intelligent people who are interested in the language and its development. But even if we all try to take all meanings as a whole, if we lack in knowledge or interest in history, literature, language, culture and so on, the base on which we make judgment ends up different.

But an interesting thing is that the Japanese language was developed similar to English. The English language has similar relationships to Latin, Greek, and French words as the Japanese language has to Chinese and Sanskrit.

And I’m constantly mystified with the English language such as the usage of articles, tenses, prepositions, spelling, possessives, naming convention, and so on. How did you come up with Bob from Robert? I love the sound of Bob. I’ve many friends with the same name and all the Bobs I know have been so good to me. So, I especially appreciate the name Bob. And whoever started to say Bob to Robert in the history, I think the person was creative, absolutely natural, and humorous.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Even thought it has been a lifetime struggle, I can see how it has greatly benefited you in your overall understanding of yourself. With my name, I only know that it’s unique because it has two b’s (even though I’m sure there are others that spell it that way). I know that my mother or whoever named me probably chose it because it was a biblical name, but other than that, I don’t really know the meaning behind why they chose my name. But, see, now you have me wondering again, which I love to do.

Yes, you’re right, many variables effect our overall ability to make meaning whole.

I’m not as mystified with the English language and it’s probably because I’m too much “in it.” You probably have a better command of the little usage things than I do because they are so different from Japanese, since I don’t know a language intimately enough that is also different enough to fully appreciate the mystifying aspects of English. I will say too, that I don’t know how some of the men’s names have been shortened, like your example of Robert for Bob. Love your last statement on how Robert to Bob came about!

keiko amano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keiko amano said...


About the mystifying quality of English, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to talk about it later. But one of them is in one of my blog below.

About extra b in your name, we have something similar. Look at the kanji, ama 天 and compare the length of the two parallel lines. The bottom line is shorter, right? But, my folks always drew the bottom line longer than the top line. I just checked the model writing my kana-shodo teacher wrote for me. She also drew the bottom line longer. I think it’s a matter of preference, and we all have artistic preference. I’m glad to know my kana-shodo teacher has the same preference as my family! Even in a soft brush writing, I think that drawing the bottom line shorter as 天 would appears rigid and closed-up.

I like two bs in your name. Rebb for Rebbecca. Bob for Robert. Hmm. It sounds similar. They are warm. I feel creative and natural energy from the name, and Yes, definitely humorous, too!

Rebb said...

Keiko, Yes, I remember the cheeseburger and pickles blog. I think that might be a whole different aspect of the wackiness of the English language. English ears can also be subtle with regard to sound. I have a Japanese neighbor and from time to time we have brunch. But sometimes she will say a word and I can’t understand because she is off a little in the sound and then when she says it, I think, of course, how could I not have picked it up. But the ears get so used to hearing something a certain way—as you know—that even off by a hair and the word is foreign. There’s a word recently where that happened. I can’t remember it right now.

I bought a book a few weeks ago called, “Essential Kanji” by P.G. O’ Neil. This is the first time I’ve picked it up to try and look up a character. Hurray! I recognized four strokes, so I was able to look in the index under four strokes section and found it. In the dictionary I have the lower parallel line is also longer. I wonder if it evolved or because of computer Kanji, they make it look the same? It’s written in brush on the right column and pen in the second column. The one that is written in pen, you can see the far right stroke is longer than the left bottom. What’s also interesting is it says ‘ame’ heavens, sky, instead of ‘ama.’

So in a way, with artistic freedom of writing Kanji, do you think that could be compared to how different people write English letters both in print and script?

I like that I looked up only one character. It’s all my brain can handle!

keiko amano said...


Thank you for noticing "ame." Yes, ame is also used often. I just checked it in the Kojien dictionary. It said that Ama is the old form of ame. Either one is fine.

But in the daily usage, when we say "the sky," we usually say "sora." We don't say ame or ama.

Neftis said...

Hello, I was wondering, is there a way to find out about ancestry in Japan?
I was born in Mexico, my grandfather was japanese under the name of Kichiemon Amano, the thing is, there is so little information within my family, dont know if they actually ignore about our roots, or if there is some kind of a hermetic thing surrounding.

My grandfather came to Mexico before WWII I think, I'm not sure though, he was a dentist and worked as a medic during Mexican revolution, his name is in one of the books of teacher/researcher Ota Mishima (who is actually related to my family somehow, but she died a couple of years ago so can't get information through her) and this I found on the internet, but I dont know if he has family there in Japan, and I would like to know more about my roots.

So, there, haha I am really sorry for bothering you with my nonesense, but I've been looking for information for so long now, and reading your blog seems you're a very kind lady, hope you can help me out, pointing me in what direction to go :D

Are there some kind of records of people leaving Japan, or something? records one can access? mmh.. where you can know from what family or district people is from?

Thank you in advance.
~Michiko Amano Erami

By the way, I found an interesting article about a place full of Amano's? in Japan.

keiko amano said...


I wonder if we are related somehow. It is possible. My grandfather of my father side is Kaichiro Amano, and he went to Nagoya Medical College. Right before graduation, he escaped to Yokohama because he didn't want to be a medical doctor. So, he probably did not receive his degree, but because of his education, he had a managerial position in the ministry of Agriculture. I think his job was related to the quality control of exporting silk. I heard that many Amanos live in Nagoya. Is that your finding?

Michiko said...

So there's a place to look for, Nagoya?
I actually don't know, an uncle of mine went to Japan looking for family, I will ask him about his results, and what places he visited.

Thanks for your help, if there's a connection I'll let you know though.

Sorry for answer this late, I was busy at work and forgot to bookmark your blog, but now I've done it haha.

Be well. :)

Neftis said...

This is the website I found describing/narrating about an island full of Amano?

I tried writing to the newspaper a month ago, but had no answer.

(by the way, I think I send a previous message with my work account, if the name shows as Michiko)

And thank you very much for your reply. I will ask my uncle about his findings when he travelled to Japan, and let you know.

~Michiko Amano

keiko amano said...


Thank you for the interesting link. I had no idea there is an island full of Amanos. I don't know much about my father's ancestors. But I heard there are many Amanos in Nagoya.

Yes, please let me know if you find anything. I will let you know if I find something interesting.

keiko amano said...


My best friend in Japan right now is Michiko, and in my short story "Estimates" has the name in it. This is a coincidence. I hope to visit the island when I return to Japan.