Yeetstead is quite beautiful this time of year.

We’ve seen before the crazy things that can happen when Japan gives kanji-names to foreign countries or when foreigners give kanji-names to themselves.

But what about the reverse? What if someone took the kanji-names of the 47 Japanese prefectures and turned them into English instead? 

That’s exactly what Reddit user topherette did, compiling a map of Japan with Anglicized versions of the names of the prefectures, islands, and some cities as well.

▼ Here’s the map that topherette created. Be sure to click on it to see it in full size!
There’s also a LOT more going on here than just kanji-name translations.

And when we say there’s a lot more going on here, we mean it. The map’s creator topherette put a ton of research and careful thought into each of the names. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Aomori (青森) turns into Greenwood, which is pretty straightforward. One of the meanings of “ao” is “green” and “mori” means “woods/forest.” Simple enough.
  • Niigata (新潟) turns into Newpool, which is great. “Nii” means “new” and “gata” means “lagoon,” so “pool” is a great choice, making it sound like Liverpool.
  • Tokyo (東京) turns into East Headstow, which is an absolute delight. “To” meaning “east” is pretty simple, but “kyo” means “capital,” though the author wasn’t satisfied with just that. To make it really feel English, they opted for Anglo-Saxon words whenever possible, in this case “heáfod-stów” (meaning “capital”).

Those are cool but mostly self-explanatory. Let’s take a look at a few more advanced ones:

  • Akita (秋田) turning into Sadfield might not make sense right away if you can read Japanese. Doesn’t “aki” mean “autumn?” Shouldn’t it be “Autumn Field?” The answer is that the “Aki” in Akita used to be written with a different kanji, in this case 飽 meaning “bored/tired/sad.” No wonder the people living there changed the name!
  • Shizuoka (静岡) turning into Netherhill might also be confusing, since “shizu” means “quiet.” Shouldn’t it be “Silent Hill?” But again the answer is that Shizuoka used to be written differently, using 賤 meaning “despite/poverty/low.” The word “nether” is a great word to combine them together, reminiscent of “nether regions.” Again, a solid name change.
  • Fukui (福井) turning into Yeetwell is both hilarious and awesome. Similar to the last two, the “fuku” in modern-day “Fukui” means “fortune/happiness,” but it used to be written with 脹 meaning “bulge/swell.” The author used the Old English word “geotan” meaning “to pour/gush” which evolved linguistically into “yeet.” And “i” just means “well/water hole.”

And then there’s the names of Japan’s four islands themselves!

  • Honshu (本州 meaning “main province”) becoming Mainland makes sense.
  • Kyushu (九州 meaning “nine provinces”) as Nineshire is absolutely adorable.
  • Shikoku (四国 meaning “four countries”) as Fourland sounds like the setting for an English fairytale.
  • Hokkaido (北海道 meaning “northern sea road”) as North Key Way has one of the most interesting reasons behind it. While “north” and “way” are direct translations, the middle “kai” didn’t originally actually mean “sea,” it was the word that the native Ainu people used for the land. The Japanese people simply used “sea” because it was pronounced “kai” too and thus “Hokkaido” was born. Here, similarly, the author has chosen an English word (“key”) similar to the original Ainu (“kai”).
  • Oh, and don’t forget that Japan (日本 meaning “sun origin”) is now Sunwell too!

Of course as topherette admitted, this kind of thing is not an exact science, and many locations have different competing etymologies. But it’s still a lot of fun to look at, and be sure to check out the original Reddit thread for some more detailed explanations, as well as the rest of the Toponomy subreddit for more cool “translated” maps.

And if you want to take a look at some great, professional examples of translating Japanese names to English, see what you think of the top 5 best Pokémon name translations too.

Source: Reddit/topherette
Top image: Wikimedia Commons/DEMIS World Map Server, Artanisen (Edited by SoraNews24)
Insert image: Reddit/topherette
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