From the Chuunibyou anime, Kumin's last name is Tsuyuri (3 characters), but written as 五月七日 (4 kanji characters). How can this be? At first, I thought it might just be a chuuni thing, where you write a bunch of kanji and give it a different reading just to be edgy. But then I found that Tsuyuri is the standard reading for that 4-kanji combo. So yeah, how can that be?


1 Answer 1


Say we have a Japanese word that has a meaning, and we want to write it using kanji. If we cannot find any corresponding character, we have the option of combining characters and assigning the combination of those characters a reading. Maybe you've already seen this in words like 大人{おとな}, 明日{あした} and 七夕{たなばた}. This is called 熟字訓{じゅくじくん} and is a form of 当{あ}て字{じ}. There is no reason the number of kanji can't be greater than the number of kana in the reading, since the individual characters don't have anything to do with the reading.

Now, for this particular name, apparently there used to be a rainmaking festival on May 7th (五月七日) called つゆいり祭り, meaning "beginning of rainy season festival". May 7th in the Japanese lunar calendar corresponds to around the beginning of June in today's calendar, which is when the rainy season starts in Japan. Now, つゆいり went through some sound shifts and became つゆり or ついり.

Sources: ピクシブ百科事典, 実用日本語表現辞典

  • 2
    There is a reason. It means that a semantic component has absolutely no phonetic component, requiring that unmarked silence be remembered and meaningful. No, that's actually impossible. The only way that it does make sense is that the kanji is being used to mark an entirely different native Japanese word with a simpler meaning, which is what happened here.
    – lly
    May 22, 2023 at 5:50
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    It's not 5th Moon, 7th Day that's being impossibly read as 3 sounds. It's that the kanji for that date is being used as a stand-in for the actual words, a rainfest that people could expect their audience to associate the written form of the date with.
    – lly
    May 22, 2023 at 5:52

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