Friday, 22 January 2010

The "Chan" in us all...

Yuu-Chan: Someone asked us in the comments yesterday to explain our names and why we all have "Chan" as a suffix. We have done so before, but as we are always making new friends, we are happy to do it again.

Let me start by saying that details concerning Tama-Chan's kittens' names are available here. As for the rest of us and our Japanese names... The Japan connection comes from #1 who studied Japanese at university and then went on to live and work in Japan for 20 years. She has in fact lived longer in Japan than anywhere else, so it is a little bit her home, which is why we kitties all have Japanese names. Add to this the fact that #1's first-ever cat, also an Aby, was born in Japan. His name was Ikkyu, after one of Japan's most famous (15th century) Zen priests and poets.

Let me start with Tama, whose full-name is Tama-Hime which means the "Jewel Princess." Tama is actually quite a widely-used name for cats in Japan, and she is a real princess after all!

Sei's full name is "Edo no Sei-Shonagon." She was named after an amazing lady who lived a thousand years ago and wrote a wonderful book called "The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagon" (Makura no Soushi in Japanese).

My full name is Yuusuke, which is a fairly common boy's name in Japan and means "The Gentle One." It's obvious why I am called that!

Now for the "Chan" bit... Most of you probably know that when Japanese address one another, they always add "san" to the end of the name. It is an honorific suffix, with an even more honorific version in "sama." Children and loved ones, however, are not addressed as "san" but as "chan." It is a sign of affection. It is used for very small children of both sexes although boys often go onto be addressed as "kun" which is less cute but equally affectionate. Whether you stay "chan" forever or you go on to "kun" depends on how you are seen. Tommy, for example, is undeniably a "Tommy-kun" because he is such a sporty boy. I am pretty sporty too but I am such a total lovebug that I am likely to be Yuu-Chan for good!

When #1 went to cat show on her last trip to Tokyo, every single cat she met was a "Chan"!

And by the way, Tommy came with his name! It was given him by his English breeders and his siblings have names like Sam, Sophie and Elsie. Tom seemed like the perfect for him, so #1 decided to keep it!

I hope you were not bored by this long explanation, but now you know all there is to know about our names! In closing, here is a rather blurred flying ears action shot of Tommy!

It's an orange tennis ball he has in his mouth!


  1. Chan and Kun are quite easy to remember,the first names are not so easy to remember...
    But nick names are O.K. "the Titi... "

    ViVi & AB

  2. #1 is so creative!!!

    Lovely ear shot Tom.

    Have a wonderful weekend all!!

  3. that was furry inneresting and cool!

    and our the mom is FASCINATED by Sei-Chan's pikshur! she thinks it's gorgeous!

    great action shot Tom!

  4. I loved the explanation! And after reading it all we get a Tommy flying ear treat!!!!

  5. Lovely names for lovely cats and Tommy does indeed suit Tommy. Love the flying ears photo of him. ~AFSS

  6. Luv the story of your names, and the kittens in the previous post are absolutely cute!

  7. Love the explanation, as well as your thoughtfulness in naming your furry family members.

    Have a great weekend!

  8. That is such a cool explanation and reason! We just knew that there was something furry special about your names and there is☺

  9. I have loved learning about your names. They all sound so affectionate and respectful at the same time...and I appreciate that. You are all such lovely beings and I'm pleased to know you. Thank you for sharing.
    ~Lisa Co9T

  10. Sweet shots of sweet kitties and a lovely lovely woofie. We enjoyed the explanation too! Mom doesn't really teach us that even though Grandma calls Chani, "Chani-chan".

    9 and Chani

  11. Thank you for the explanation! Not boring at all -- looks like everyone found it interesting! I really enjoy hearing/reading/viewing cultural information that I'm not familiar with -- In fact, it is one thing I most enjoy about the blog-scene, other than the furry friends I meet! It is sort of vicarious travel.....
    Have a great weekend!
    That is a fabulous pic of Tommy by the way, and I chuckled at the solid English names!

  12. We would ekhho all the khomments we've read: not boring at all and furry interesting!

    Of khourse, the inklusion of FLYING EARS was pawesome!

    Khyra & Khousin Merdie
    PeeEssWoo: Hi Tommy!

  13. Sorry, I missed all that. I got a bit distracted by that bootiful picture of Tama-Chan...

  14. Thank you for that, its very interesting to hear how things come about.. Love the picture.. Hugs GJ x

  15. We enjoyed the explanation of your names.

  16. Hi all - thanks for the explanation, we admit we have wondered about the names.

    FH saw a dog that was the spitting image of Tommy today - he was just leaving a park with his owner as she was driving past and she noticed him immediately as he was trying to bring a stick that was basically half a tree trunk with him! He looked so proud of himself, she thought it was great!!

    Schnauzer snuggles - JD and Max.

  17. I learn something new everyday.

  18. Oh, Thank you sooo vewy much fow that explanation. I loved it and mommi did too.
    We've always loved all youw names just because they awe bootiful, but knowing theiw meaning makes it so much mowe special.
    smoochie kisses
    Asta chan,( heheheh)

  19. Mom is a language person, and she so loved this post - very interesting and great explanation. Next time we need to come up with a good name, we may need to seek her help.

    Happy Friday, Phantom and Thunder

  20. Very cool. Thank you for explaining. So we are Benny Chan and Lily Chan right?

  21. Thanks for explaining that! Japan must have been a fascinating place to live for a gaijin (think I got that word right).

  22. Thanks for the explanation. Have a great weekend!

  23. Thank you for explaining. Of course I will forget by tomorrow what you said and get confused all over again. Not easy being me.


  24. We always wondered why Tommy has an English name and all you kitties have Japanese names. Thanks for the explanation. Your names all suit you very well.

    Your friends,
    Niamh & Ambrose

  25. Thank you for so patiently explaining all of your names is so interesting! we remember when the discussion came up before, Meowmy looked up in Wikipedia about "chan" and "kun" because she was only familiar with "san"...and didn't realize that boys and girls can both have the honorific "chan." Also cute to know about how Tommy stayed truly is the perfect name for him!

  26. Thank you for explaining. We don't know much about Japan so we're thrilled to learn more. How wonderful for #1 to be able to live there for so long.

    We love the pictures.

    Cliff-Kun and Olivia-Chan ;-)


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