Why in this image ノ is written in katakana and not in hiragana? enter image description here

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    It reads as "火ノ寺" (hi-no-tera), right? Note that Japanese kanas has interchangeable for some reasons, so "ノ" likely used for emphasis there. This usage is similar to some city names which adding katakana between kanji letters. Jul 12, 2017 at 9:03
  • Where is the picture from?
    – karlalou
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:05
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    ケ is used as well, in a smaller version, ヶ. It's used in 市ヶ谷(いちがや), but also sometimes in ~ヶ月, such as 一ヶ月(いっかげつ).
    – Right leg
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:08
  • There's also examples like 紀国 or 紀伊国 of 紀伊国屋書店 come to my mind, which completely omit の.
    – karlalou
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:12
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2 Answers 2


の in traditional proper nouns are commonly written in katakana.

Practically, this can help people notice that this の is part of the proper noun and not the ordinary particle.

Historically, hiragana were not much preferred in proper nouns and official documents anyway. Meiji Constitution published in 1889 looked like this. (See: Orthography at the turn of the previous century) There were many katakana-only person names and place names in the old days. For the same reason, I would hardly expect hiragana in nameplates of real temples. Although this 火ノ寺 seems to be the name of a fictional temple, I can say this ノ adds an old and authentic look to the name.

  • By extension, would this mean that names written without kanji are written in katakana instead?
    – ajsmart
    Jul 12, 2017 at 13:25
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    @ajsmart Yes, girl names in particular.
    – naruto
    Jul 12, 2017 at 13:40
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    Girl names ending with 子 are often written in hiragana except for the 子, such as ふみ子.
    – Right leg
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:04
  • @Rightleg The discussion is really about pre-war Japanese, though.
    – Casey
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:07
  • you should incorporate your comment on girl names to the answer. Comments are too volatile and that info seems relevant. Jul 12, 2017 at 15:06

It is a very difficult question even for Japanese.

I couldn't guess the reasonable reason why it was written as "火ノ寺" specially instead of the ordinary way as "火の寺", though の and ノ are interchangeable as is said in Tetsuya Yamamoto's comment for your question.

So at first, I thought that someone wrote it merely a choice to made their work stand out from other similar works; I know this is not a smart answer.

Next I searched for "火ノ寺" on the Internet. Here and here it was.

It turned out to be a proper noun appeared in The Naruto (Japanese: ナルト) manga and anime series that is a genre of ninja. In addition, there were other similar expressions using ノ instead of の like "木ノ葉 Ko-no-ha" and "木ノ葉丸 Ko-no-ha Maru", they were all proper nouns.

It happens that in naruto's answer there is a reasonable explanation that ノ are often used in traditional proper nouns, and I think it is a pretty promising answer. However, I considered the reason further.

If you are interested in knowing about ninja and know it well, I think that you know to call a woman ninja "くノ一 ku-no-ichi". When you break down a kanji character "女" into strokes, it will become "く, ノ and 一 ku, no and ichi".

I would like to think that ノ in "くノ一" inspired the author who considered the proper nouns in his managa like "火ノ寺 Hi-no-tera", "木ノ葉 Ko-no-ha" and "木ノ葉丸 Ko-no-ha Maru".

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