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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sharingan, Byakugan and Rinnegan - Meaning in Japanese

If you have ever watched Naruto ナルト in your life or Naruto: Shippuden ナルト疾風伝, or if you've ever spoken to another anime fan in your life, chances are you know about characters with special eyes sharingan 写輪眼, byakugan 白眼 and rinnegan 輪廻眼 eyes. But what do these words mean in Japanese, exactly?

Well, prepare to be disappointed. As all names in Japanese, they sound cool when they are in a language you don't understand and lame otherwise.


First off, the gan 眼 all these words share? It means "eye". Literally "eye." So saying sharingan eyes is like saying sharin eye eyes. A tautology, as Doctor Who fans would gladly inform you.

Sharingan 写輪眼

The sharin in the word sharingan is written with the kanji 写 and 輪. It's a made up word, as far as I can tell. There's nothing called a sharin 写輪 in everyday Japanese. It's a thing that only exists in Naruto, but, regardless, let's take a look at the kanji.

So, for the kanji 写 its part of words like "photography," shashin 写真, and "projecting [on a screen]", utsutsu 写す, and even "drawing (sketching) from real life," shasei 写生. Anyway, the meaning of 写 is to copy something and put it into something else.

For the kanji 輪, it's part of words like "finger ring" yubiwa 指輪, and "necklace" or "collar," kubiwa 首輪, and even just wa 輪 which means "ring" or "wheel." Anyway, it's a kanji for circle-shaped, loopy things.

So, together we have...


Copy-wheel eyes? Or something? I don't know. The sharingan copies jutsu and looks like a wheel. So... yeah. It's copy-wheel eye.

That's just lame. Disappointing, honestly.

(See also: the meaning of Ninjutsu, Genjutsu and Taijutsu)

Mangekyou Sharingan

But it's alright, we still got the mangekyou sharingan 万華鏡写輪眼, right? The better sharingan! The super-saiyan sharingan. Sure the mangekyou of mangekyou sharingan has some super cool meaning in Japanese, right?

Well, no. Sorry to burst you bubble.

In Japanese, mangekyou 万華鏡 means "kaleidoscope". The weird cool-looking glass thingy. So mangekyou sharigan would means "copy-wheel kaleidoscope eyes" which isn't any bit better at all.

Hey, but at least kaleidoscopes are cool and mangekyou is a real word this time!

Byakugan 白眼

Alright, this one is so easy you might even know it already. 

It's also even more lame than sharingan, so ready yourself.

First, what color are the byakugan 白眼?

Are they "black", kuro 黒?  No?
Are they "red," aka 赤? Nope?

Are they "white," shiro 白? Yep? Are they?

Well. Yeah. Believe it or not, byakugan 白眼 is, literally, very literally, in the literal meaning of literally, "white eyes."

Now, I'm not the best guy in the world at naming things myself, but I think, personally, my honest opinion, you shouldn't just call the super powerful ability of your characters "white eyes" just because... they are... "white eyes."

It's kinda racist. I mean, I can imagine an anime where the plot is about discriminating against white-eyed people, calling them the byakugan 白眼 and stuff. You know. Just like Kurapika in Hunter x Hunter has red eyes and his people are... hunted? Because of it? Anyway.

Rinnegan 輪廻眼

Last, but no less eye than the others, the rinnegan 輪廻眼. Which is also sort of white, but thankfully not called "white eyes" this time. It also got plenty of rings on it but it's not called anything-wheel this time, either.

However, unless you're quick to forget these things, the kanji 輪 which we saw in sharingan 写輪眼 and meant "wheel" is also part of rinnegan 輪廻眼 this time. But fear not! It definitely has nothing to do with wheels.

The rinnegann 輪廻眼, or rather, rinne 輪廻 is an actual Japanese word, thankfully, meaning "the endless cycle of death and rebirth." It's actually also the buddhist term "samsara." Because it's a cycle it has the kanji 輪 that's used for wheel and loopy things. A cycle kind of loops, so...

Of all three this is the only cool word. At least it has a story behind of it, a philosophy, you know? Endless cycle of death and rebirth? The words sharingan and byakugan could learn something from the word rinnegan.

Doubts? Post a comment below!

1 comment:

  1. well, nice to know! thanks for working hard on this!


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