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Japanese woman with unusual name celebrates 100th birthday

13 Comments

Turning 100 years old is indeed a great achievement. Not only can we appreciate and look up to those who seem to follow the correct path to a ripe old age, but it’s always a shining example of how far we have come as a people to extend our lives so much over the years.

And so, it’s with great honor and reverence that we would like to wish a happy belated birthday to Ms… erm… Mxy…zptlk Sugahara.

Apparently we weren’t alone in not being able to read this woman’s name. Internet commenters came out in droves shrugging their shoulders and figuring a cockroach got into the printing press. A chosen few however, scolded their peers for not being cultured enough to decipher it.

The woman’s last name “Sugahara” (菅原) was easy enough to understand. Her given name though, caused people to ask “Is it Korean?” and “I can’t read it. How were they able to print those characters?”

The second character, as many readers correctly assumed was an old variation of “mi” (美) the kanji for “beautiful” and a popular affix for women’s names. One commenter actually managed to track down the character codes for it.

The first character was a little harder for people to understand. Some thought it might have been an alien language. Others suggested it was a "kirakira" name which refers to the popular trend of giving children highly unusual names based on traditional kanji such as “Tomoroh” (明日).

But this would be the opposite case as, rather than an unusual interpretation, the symbol itself is hard to read. That and the fact that this woman was born a century before this fad got into full-swing. Before the head-scratching got too intense, some more learned netizens were eager to point out that this character was "hentaigana."

Not to be confused with the homophone "hentai" as in “pervert,” hentaigana means an “alternative kana” or different way of writing existing letters. The characters in "hentaigana" have largely fallen by the wayside but can sometimes be seen in places such as restaurant signs.

In the case of this centenarian’s name, it’s a now-defunct way of writing “to” and derived from the kanji (登) which means “climb.” Someone managed to track down the font information for this one too.

Indeed Japanese is a deep language full of confusing surprises. We cæn’t imagine what English would be like if long forgotten letters were randomly mixed in like that. Anyway, with that mystery solved we’d now like to properly wish an even more belated 100th birthday to Ms Tomi Sugahara. May you freak people out with your name for many, many more years to come.

Source: Nikita Sokuho

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Choose a normal name for your baby…OR ELSE! -- New wave of “creative” Japanese names read more like riddles -- What’s in a name? The 10 most common surnames in Japan (and their meanings)

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13 Comments
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And so what is her name in romaji?!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

salas-easy to miss, it's in the last part 'Tomi'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Quite interesting. That first character of her given name could also resemble the defunct symbol for The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I learned something new. Good way to start the day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't care much, sorry.Congrats though and happy 100th bday.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Many Happy Returns Ms Sugahara! May you have many more opportunities to explain how to read your name!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anybody else remember the twin sisters (Kin-san and Gin-san) from the Nagoya area who lived to be about 110 years old? I had the pleasure of meeting them a couple of times at different functions. They were big fans of the great Hawaiian Yokozuna, Akebono. Two delightful little ladies ! I believe they both passed just after the turn of the century.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Kurobune Yeah, remember the ad as well that made them famous. One of them in particular was a real character.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Both of them were characters. Sur[risingly genki until their last moments.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We cæn’t imagine what English would be like if long forgotten letters were randomly mixed in like that.

I shall name my two children Ælfric and Ingriður, and Ms. Tomi Sugahara will come with me to city hall to make sure that no jobsworth bureaucrat tries to tell me what's a letter and what isn't!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

May the lady live 101 more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I feel sorry for Japanese kids having to learn defunct and increasingly useless forms of written languages.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The second character looks like hentai kanji of Mi. First one, Fu? We don't write kanji as is. Always with so called hentai. Write a kanji continuouselycontinuously without taking writing brush up. After each character, pen (fude) and goes to next character.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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