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Who named Japan?

1. Introduction

The name Japan has been used for centuries, but its origin and meaning are still shrouded in mystery. While some believe it was named after the sun goddess Amaterasu, others believe it was named by the Emperor Jinmu in the 7th century. Regardless of its origins, Japan is a country steeped in rich culture and tradition that has captivated people for generations. In this article, we will explore who named Japan and the various theories surrounding this question.

2. Early History of Japan

Japan has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with archaeological evidence suggesting human activity as early as 35,000 years ago. The first written records of Japan date back to the 8th century when Chinese sources mention a country called Wa or Wo in reference to an island nation located off the eastern coast of mainland Asia. It is believed that these early references to Wa were referring to what is now known as Japan.

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3. Origin of the Name Japan

The origin of the name “Japan” is uncertain but there are several theories surrounding its meaning and how it came to be used as a name for this island nation. One theory suggests that it originated from Chinese texts which referred to a country called Jih-pun or Cipangu (the old pronunciation for Japan). Another theory suggests that it comes from Japanese mythology where it is said that the sun goddess Amaterasu bestowed her name upon her descendants who ruled over the land now known as Japan.

4. Chinese Texts Mentioning Japan

Chinese texts from around 200 CE make reference to a country called Wa or Wo which is believed to be an early reference to what we now know as Japan. These texts describe Wa as an island nation located off the eastern coast of mainland Asia with its own unique culture and traditions separate from those found on mainland China and Korea at that time period.

5. Japanese Mythology and the Name Japan

In Japanese mythology, there is a story about how Amaterasu, the sun goddess, bestowed her name upon her descendants who would go on to rule over what is now known as Japan. This story dates back at least two thousand years ago and could explain why modern-day Japanese refer to their country as Nippon or Nihon which translates into “the land of rising sun” or “sun source” respectively.

6. The Emperor Jinmu and the Naming of Japan

Some historians believe that Emperor Jinmu was responsible for giving his kingdom its current name “Nihon” (or “Japan”) in 660 BCE when he ascended to power after unifying several warring clans under his rule and established himself as ruler over all of present-day mainland Japan (Honshu Island). It was during this time period that he declared his kingdom’s official name: Nihon (or “Japan”). This theory could explain why modern-day Japanese refer to their country by this same name even though other names have been used throughout history such as Dai Nippon Teikoku (Greater Japanese Empire) during World War II era or Yamato during ancient times prior to Emperor Jinmu’s reign.

7 Other Theories on How Japan Got Its Name

Other theories suggest that “Japan” may have come from other languages such as Malay “Jepang” which means “country across water”, Dutch “Japansch” which means “Japanese-like”, Portuguese “Japão” which means “land of rising sun”, or Spanish/Italian/French variations such as Japon/Giappone/Japonne which all mean “land of rising sun”. These theories suggest that foreign traders may have given this land its current name due to similarities between their language’s words for sunrise/sunset and those used by locals when referring to their homeland.


In conclusion, while there are various theories regarding who named Japan, it is likely that no single person can be credited with giving this beautiful island nation its current name; rather, it has likely evolved over time through various influences both foreign and domestic such as Chinese texts mentioning Wa/Wo, Japanese mythology involving Amaterasu, Emperor Jinmu declaring his kingdom’s official name Nihon (or “Japan”), foreign traders giving it names similar words in other languages meaning sunrise/sunset etc.. Regardless of how it got its current name however one thing remains certain – today we know this beautiful island nation simply by one word: “Japan”!

How did Japan get it’s name?

The origin of the name Japan is uncertain but scholars speculate that it may have come from Japung in Malaysia or Repin in China. It roughly means the land of the rising sun. Historians say that the Japanese called their country Yamato at the beginning of history and began using it in the seventh century.

What did China call Japan?

In China the sign is called Rìběn which is the Mandarin pronunciation of the Chinese character. The Cantonese pronunciation is Yahtbún the Shanghainese pronunciation is Zeppen [zəʔpən] and the Hokkien pronunciation is Ji̍tpún / Li̍t-pún.

When was Japan named Japan?

In the 7th or 8th century the name of Japan changed from Wakoku (倭国) to Nihon (日本). According to some records the Japanese ambassador to China asked for the name to be changed because he did not like it. According to another record Chinese Empress Wu Zetian ordered Japans name to be changed.

Why Japan instead of Nippon?

Simply put Nippon is a common name in Japanese but has other names in other languages. The name Japan appears to be derived from the Mandarin or Wu name of the country usually transliterated as Sipan.

Why is China called China?

The name China is derived from Chinese Sanskrit (from the name of the Qin Dynasty in China pronounced Chin) Chin was translated by the Persians and probably spread through trade along the Silk Roads.

What is the old name of China?

Other Chinese names for China besides Zhongguo include Zhōnghuá (中華/中华 Central Beauty) Huáxià (華夏/华夏 Beautiful Majesty) Shenzu (神州 Divine Realm) and Jiǔzhōu (九州 Nine).

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