What does the 奈 in 神奈川県 mean? I saw the term listed as what on Jisho. One person sent me the definition of an altar and others say that it has no meaning just a sound.


I adopt the hypothesis in the site 神奈川県 - 地名由来辞典.

この地に水源地が解からない川があり、「上無川(かみなしがわ)」と呼ばれていたため「神奈川」になったとする説。 "There were the river with the water source was unknown called 上無川{かみなしがわ} changed into 神奈川{かながわ}."

And my hypothesis is there were not so many rivers in the past. Therefore, they were often seeking the water source and found it important things. Then I have decided to look up the number of rivers by prefectures.

According to the site 数字で見る「日本の自然資源」月刊事業構想 編集部,

There are rankings in the page: 日本全国で川の数は、35,260に上り、一級河川の総延長*は88,000kmに及ぶ. 神奈川 is ranked No6 from the bottom in it. 石川 is No5 from the bottom. 香川 is No2 from the bottom.

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一級河川の指定区間と指定区間外の合計数値 出典)国土交通省、一級河川の河川延長等調 *都道府県別(平成27年4月30日現在)

And looking up the origin of 香川県 - 地名由来辞典 古来より雨量が少なく、夏期に水枯れする河川が多かったことから、「かれかわ(枯川)」が転じて「かがわ」になったとする説。 Since long time ago, the amount of water is small. Therefore, there were many rivers dried up in the summer. Probably 「かれかわ(枯川)」: dried river changed into 香川{かがわ} because of that.

石川県 seems a little bit different 石川県 - 地名由来辞典. 県最大の河川である「手取川」は、上流から石を多く流すことから通称「石川」と言った。. 手取川{てどりがわ}, the largest river in the prefecture. Since it sheds many stones from upstream, it has changed so-called 石川{いしかわ} according to the wikipedia : 手取川 This time, the river was violent and needed to be paid attention.Prpbably That's why the river was called like that.

For 神奈川, I guess you can't pick up only 奈{な} kanji element. Hence 神奈{かな} is at least an ateji in 神奈川{かながわ}.

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