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Japanese names of characters from “Sazae-san”

Japanese names of characters from “Sazae-san”
Japanese names of characters from “Sazae-san”

Image by: Sazae-san comic 1 © Machiko Hasegawa, Asahi Shimbun publications Inc

What is the story?

Sazae-san a story written by Machiko Hasegawa, is the longest-running anime series in Japan featuring a typical Japanese life. The Isono family consists of 3 generations living under one roof which was quite common back then. The family includes the main character Sazae, her parents, her 2 siblings, her husband, and her young son. Each episode is independently plotted and it’s mainly an interaction between the family members and friends around them.

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Why is it called Sazae-san?

The whole series is a collection of individual episodes about Sazae’s family, this is why the title is called Sazae-san. The “san” at the end of the name is used to address a person as “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Ms” in a polite way.

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa, Machiko Hasegawa museum © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Image by: Sazae-san comic 1 © Machiko Hasegawa, Asahi Shimbun publications Inc

What are the meanings behind the character’s names?

In Japanese culture, names have significant meanings that are supposed to represent you as a person. Names can be expressed in hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Most characters from Sazae-san are somehow related to the ocean. Let’s find out the meanings of Sazae’s family members!

Sazae (サザエ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

“Sazae”(サザエ), the main character of this series. Sazae means Turban shell. She is a little clumsy but a cheerful housewife and she is famous for her unique hairstyle.

Masuo (マスオ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Masuo is Sazae’s husband and resides in the Isono family’s house. “Masu”(マス) means trout, and “O”(オ) is commonly used for the end of male names. Masuo is a friendly husband and dad.

Namihei(波平)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Namihei(波平). “Nami”(波) means wave and “Hei”(平) is flat. “Namihei” is strict and grumpy. He is a typical Japanese grandfather and is Sazae, Katsuo, and Wakame’s father.

Fune (フネ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

“Fune”(フネ) is the kind and caring mother of Sazae, Katsuo, and Wakame. “Fune”(フネ) simply means ship. Even though there is an actual kanji for Fune (Which is 船) the writer of this series decided not to write Fune’s name in kanji but instead in katakana.

Katsuo (カツオ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

“Katsuo”(カツオ) means bonito fish. He is the cheeky younger brother of Sazae and he often gets into trouble for his mischief. Many people get confused because of his size. Since he is so small people mistake him as Sazae’s son instead of her younger brother.

Wakame (ワカメ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

“Wakame”(ワカメ) is the kind and gentle younger sister of Sazae. Like her brother “Katsuo” people often mistake her as Sazae’s daughter instead of her younger sister.

Tarao (タラオ)

Image by: Sazae-san official website © Machiko Hasegawa © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

The “Tara”(タラ) means cod and the “O”(オ) is commonly used at the end of male names like for example his father whose name is “Masuo”. He is the little son of Sazae and Masuo.

Interesting lines and phrases – Learning Japanese!

Here are some useful phrases from Sazae-san you can start using today!

Image by: Sazae-san comic 10 © Machiko Hasegawa, Asahi Shimbun publications Inc

EN/ ‘Could you please be quiet!’
JP/「静かにしてくださいShizuka ni shite kudasai
EN/ ‘I’m very sorry…’
JP/「すみませんSu mi ma sen

Asking someone to be quiet can be tricky sometimes. This is a polite way to ask someone to quiet down, on the other hand, you can say “sumimasen” when you want to apologize.

Image by: Sazae-san comic 9 © Machiko Hasegawa, Asahi Shimbun publications Inc

EN/ ‘Is it yummy, dear?’
JP/「あなた、おいしい?anata, oishii?
EN/ ‘Yup’
JP/「うんun

You use the word “anata” which means Dear when you address your husband. “Oishii” means yummy, and you can also use it when you want to know if something is yummy. “Un” is a casual way to say yes or yup!


Image by: Sazae-san comic 9 © Machiko Hasegawa, Asahi Shimbun publications Inc

EN/ ‘Are you ready yet?!!!’
JP/「もういいかい?mou iikai?
EN/ ‘Not yet!!’
JP/「まだだよMada dayo

Have you heard kids using these phrases? They are definitely playing hide and seek. You use “Mou iikai?” when you want to ask if you are ready or not, “Mada dayo” means not quite yet. In case you are ready, call out “mou iiyo”!

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