Japan is one of the most unique and interesting countries in the world, with a rich culture and history that has been shaped by centuries of foreign influence. It’s no surprise, then, that even its name has an interesting origin story. In this article, we’ll explore why Japan is called Japan in English and how its name has changed over time.
2. Early Japanese History
The history of Japan dates back to at least the 8th century BCE when it was inhabited by a people known as the Jōmon. This group was eventually replaced by the Yayoi people who brought with them new technologies such as rice cultivation and metalworking. The Yayoi period saw the rise of powerful clans such as the Yamato and their eventual unification of Japan in the 3rd century CE under Emperor Jimmu.
3. Chinese Influence on Japan’s Name
The Chinese had a major influence on early Japanese culture, particularly in terms of language and writing systems. During this period, China referred to Japan as “Wa,” which translates to “peaceful country.” This name was used by Chinese writers until around the 6th century CE when it was replaced with “Nihon” or “Nippon,” which translates to “origin of the sun.”
4. The Origin of the Word “Japan”
The word “Japan” first appeared in English in 1577 when Francis Xavier wrote a letter referring to “the kingdom of Japon” while visiting Nagasaki during his mission to spread Christianity throughout Asia. It is believed that Xavier got this name from Portuguese traders who had visited Japan and adopted it from Nihon or Nippon, which were already being used by Europeans at that time to refer to Japan.
5. The Name “Japan” in Other Languages
In other languages, such as French, German and Spanish, Japan is referred to as “Japon” or similar variants derived from Portuguese traders’ adaptation of Nihon/Nippon. In Russian, however, it is referred to as “Yaponiya” which originates from Dutch traders’ adaptation of Nihon/Nippon into their own language which became known as Yapoon or Japoon before eventually becoming Yaponiya in Russian.
6. The Adoption of the Name “Japan” in English-Speaking Countries
By the 19th century, “Japan” had become widely accepted among English-speaking countries as a common way to refer to this Asian nation due to its prevalence among European traders during earlier centuries. It was also popularized through literature such as James Clavell’s novel Shogun (1975) and through various translations of Japanese works into English during this period such as Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904).
7. Japan’s Official Name Today
Today, Japan’s official name is “Nippon-koku” (日本国) which means “State/Country of Japan” but it is still commonly referred to simply as “Japan” both domestically and internationally due largely due its popularity among English-speaking countries since at least 1577 when Francis Xavier first used it in a letter he wrote about his mission there..
In conclusion, we can see that there is an interesting story behind why Japan is called what it is today in English-speaking countries – an adaptation taken from Portuguese traders who visited during earlier centuries combined with its prevalence among European traders before eventually becoming widely accepted among English-speaking countries during the 19th century onward due largely due its popularity through literature such translations into English from Japanese works like Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904).
Clavell, J., 1975 Shogun [Novel]. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc..
Hearn L., 1904 Kwaidan: Stories And Studies Of Strange Things [Book]. London: C & J Temple Ltd..
Kato K., 2017 A History Of Early Japanese Society [Book]. Tokyo: University Of Tokyo Press Ltd..
Why do we call Japan Japan?
The origin of the name Japan is not clear but scholars believe it may come from the Malay japung or Chinese word for land of the rising sun. Historians say that the Japanese called their country Yamato in their early history and that they started using Nippon around the seventh century.
What do they call Japan in Japan?
While the Japanese today commonly refer to their country as Nihon or Nippon early texts used Oyashima (the Thai island) or Yamato (written with the Chinese characters vii and wa).
What did China call Japan?
倭 (倭 from Japanese Chinese 倭 Eastern Han Chinese: *ʔwɑi > *ʔuɑi > Middle Chinese: ʔuɑ > Pinyin: Wō) is an old Japanese name attested by foreign sources (so names like Busan and Penglai are not considered legendary or legendary.))
What does China call itself?
The name China contains several modern and historical terms in various languages for Standard Mandarin the national language of the East Asian country Zhōngguó (中國/中國 Central country).
How did China get its name?
The name China is derived from the Sanskrit Sena (derived from the name of a Chinese family pronounced Chin) which was translated by the Persians and apparently spread through trade along the Silk Road.
What do you call a girl in Japan?
Una is one of the more common and simplified terms used to refer to women and is often used in official documents and forms when designating a persons gender.