If Ō Ikenohata Jōkin is written as 大池仲上金, how can 池仲 be 'ikenohata'? 池 is ike, but 仲 is usually naka? Can 仲 -- and presumably its homonym 中 -- also be read as hata (はた)? Am I missing something?

Context: I was looking at a mid-19th century publisher Jōshūya Kinzō, 上州屋金蔵: the academic text I was referencing indicated that he used an Ō Ikenohata Jōkin seal, 大池仲上金, during 1837–1848. I also came across a ukiyo-e print and found a variation seal, 大池中上金, and can only assume that since 仲 and 中 are homonyms (naka, なか) then the second seal would also be read as Ō Ikenohata Jōkin.

Jōshūya Kinzō's address in Edo was Shitaya Ikenohata Nakamachi-dōri, 下谷池之端仲町通. I have found a publisher’s address cartouche Shitaya Ikenohata, Jōshūya Kinzō han, 下谷池之端上州屋金蔵版. In these two instances, Ikenohata uses the expected character hata, 端.

This is a little confusing. Given my earlier examples, how does 仲 and 中 represent the hata in Ikenohata? I've gone through a few dictionaries and references but none shed light on this usage.

Wiktionary gives 中 the following readings:

Go-on: ちゅう (chū, Jōyō); じゅう (jū, Jōyō, uncommon)

Kan-on: ちゅう (chū, Jōyō); じゅう (jū, Jōyō, uncommon)

Kun: なか (naka, 中, Jōyō); うち (uchi, 中); あたる (ataru, 中たる)

Nanori: あたり (atari); あつ (atsu); あつる (atsuru); かなえ (kanae); かなめ (kaname); ただし (tadashi); とうる (tōru); とおる (tōru); ひとし (hitoshi); みつる (mitsuru); わたる (wataru);

and for 仲:

Go-on: じゅう (jū)

Kan-on: ちゅう (chū, Jōyō)

Kun: なか (naka, 仲, Jōyō).

Any observations appreciated.


I think there's a collection of contractions here that are making things confusing. :)

Jōshūya's address gives us a hint: 下谷池之端仲町通. Looking up 池之端 on the JA Wikipedia, we see that 池之端仲町 appears to have been a somewhat distinct place name -- this is listed independently in both the Edo and Meiji period lists of place names related to 池之端, lacking the 下谷 prefix. Notably, 池之端仲町 could be abbreviated to just 池仲, using the common Japanese abbreviation practice of taking the first kanji of each constituent part. I suspect this is the same as the second and third characters in the seal name.

According to the JA Wikipedia page for this publisher, Jōshūya also went by the abbreviated spelling 上金. I suspect this is the same as the last two characters in the seal name.

We're left with the 大 on the front.

  • There's a possibility that this is also a first-character abbreviation, perhaps of 大江戸. That said, I cannot find any instances of "大江戸池之端仲町", which would be the probable expanded version of 大池仲 as an abbreviation.
  • Alternatively, if the seal were large, or just larger than other seals used by Jōshūya, that might be all this meant -- the big seal, as opposed to the small one. Personally, I suspect that this is the more probable explanation.

Putting this all back together, we have:

  • - "big"
  • ‍之端‍‍町 → 池仲 - from the address.
    The Ikenohata reading here would apply to the full expanded spelling. 池仲 as-is would notably not be read as Ikenohata, so matching up the hata reading with the 仲 kanji is a mistake.
  • ‍州屋‍‍蔵 → 上金 - from the full name.

This kind of mismatch, where a reading from a fuller expression appears to be applied to an abbreviation where the kanji no longer line up well with the reading, isn't terribly common from what I've seen, but it's also not unknown.

  • Eiríkr Útlendi, thanks for your clearly articulated response... it was very helpful. Given your reply, I have edited my question (the main title) and some phrasing to better segue into your answer; improve it as a future reference. Though I realised Kinzō's seal name was 'Jōkin', 上金, I didn't pay much attention to it as a contraction of Jōshūya and Kinzō (i.e. taking the first two characters Jō and Kin). Your point about the contraction of the address would never have occurred to me: can I assume it's not too different from the practice of contracting New York to NY, and reading it 'New York'? – musha Nov 7 '18 at 12:12
  • @musha, yes, that strikes me as a very good analogy. You'll also find where the abbreviated forms are read as their abbreviations -- like "New York" becoming "NY" and read as "En Why", or 上州屋金蔵 ("Jōshūya Kinzō") becoming 上金 and read as "Jōkin". It's also possible that the text you saw might have jumbled things up a bit; at first glance I'd expect 大池仲上金 to be read as "Dai Ike Naka Jōkin", with the characters read as spelled. That said, I have bumped into other rare cases of "abbreviated spelling" → "unabbreviated reading". – Eiríkr Útlendi Nov 7 '18 at 20:11
  • 1
    I cannot find specific web references on contractions in artist's and publisher's seals... the way they are read, as you put it, "abbreviated spelling" → "unabbreviated reading"... but more generally: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_abbreviated_and_contracted_words – musha Nov 7 '18 at 23:11
  • A further reflection: Given Kinzō’s Shitaya Ikenohata Nakamachi-dōri (下谷池之端仲町通) address and his Ō Ikenohata Jōkin (大池中上金 or 大池仲上金) seal, it is Ikenohata Nakamachi 池之端仲町 that is being abbreviated to 池仲 using (in your words) “the common Japanese abbreviation practice of taking the first kanji of each constituent part.” That is, there has been a contraction of 池之端仲町 → 池仲. Is it strange then that the seal is referred to as an Ō Ikenohata Jōkin (大池中上金 or 大池仲上金) seal, rather than an Ō Ikenohata Nakamachi Jōkin seal? – musha Nov 8 '18 at 14:57
  • @musha, yes, I personally think it's odd. I'd expect it to be called the "Ō Ike-Naka Jōkin seal". That said, I didn't grow up with Japanese, and a native speaker (and thus someone more widely read than I) might view that reading for that abbreviation as less odd. – Eiríkr Útlendi Nov 8 '18 at 18:29

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