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Japanese names of characters from “Slam Dunk”

Japanese names of characters from “Slam Dunk”
Japanese names of characters from “Slam Dunk”

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 1 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

What is the story?

Slam Dunk, a Weekly Shōnen Jump series written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue. It is about a high school student called Hanamichi Sakuragi who battles to join the Shohoku High School basketball team to make a young lady named Haruko Akagi fall in love with him. Hanamichi’s extremely tall and muscular body makes him look like an athlete, but in truth, he has no special skills and doesn’t play any sport. Even so, he miraculously beats the basketball team chief in a battle and earns a spot in the group. Hanamichi works hard every day and learns the meaning and results of resilience. Alongside his teammates and companions, Hanamichi sets out toward the National Championship!

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 1 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

What is the Japanese title of Slam Dunk?

Both the words ‘Slam’ and ‘Dunk’ are English words so they are written in katakana as ‘スラムダンク, Suramu Danku’. A ‘Slam Dunk’ was the first move that Hanamichi learned and was what motivated him to play basketball.

What are the meanings behind the characters’ 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. Let’s find out the meanings of some names of characters in Slam Dunk.

Hanamichi Sakuragi (桜木 花道, Sakuragi Hanamichi)

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 14 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

First of all, the stubborn and simple-minded Hanamichi. He is a total beginner in basketball but sees himself as the rival of Rukawa, an amazing basketball player in his team because he thinks too highly of himself. ‘Hana'(花) means flower, ‘Michi'(道) means path, ‘Sakura'(桜) is a cherry blossom, and ‘Gi'(木) means tree.

Kaede Rukawa (流川 楓, Rukawa Kaede)

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 19 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

Now let’s look into the superstar freshman Kaede. Even though he is a rookie he easily beat many of his seniors and became the ace of the team. ‘Kaede'(楓) is a maple tree, ‘Ru'(流) means flow, and ‘Kawa'(川) is a river.

Hisashi Mitsui (三井 寿, Mitsui Hisashi)

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 6 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

Hisashi was the regionals best player in middle school and even won an MVP award. He had so many achievements but due to a knee injury, he had to stop basketball. His basketball future had disappeared. However, in high school, he got over his past and joined the Shohoku High School Basketball team. ‘Mistu’(三) is three, ‘I’(井)is a well and ‘Hisashi’(寿) means congratulations.

Takenori Akagi (赤木 剛憲, Akagi Takenori)

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 12 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

Takenori, the super tall and strong Shohoku High School basketball coach and player. He is serious and is very passionate about basketball. He has had a goal to ‘Conquer the National Championship’ since a very young age, and won’t stop until he accomplishes it. ‘Aka’(赤) is red, ‘Gi’(木) is a tree, ‘Take’(剛) means strong and hard, and ‘Nori’(憲) means law.

Ryota Miyagi (宮城 リョータ, Miyagi Ryōta)

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 5 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

Last but not least, Hanamichi’s teammate Ryota. Like Hanamichi he joined the basketball team to impress a girl he likes but has no luck at all. Because of their similarities, they understand each other well and become buddies. ‘Miya’(宮) is a palace, ‘Gi’(城) is a castle, and ‘Ryōta'(リョータ) is written in katakana so it is hard to tell the meaning, but of course, there are many ways to write Ryota with kanji.

Interesting lines and phrases – Learning Japanese!

Here are some useful phrases from Slam Dunk that will help you along with your Japanese studies!

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 6 Ep 48 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

EN/ ‘If you want to defeat me, then you’ll have to practice real hard!!’
JP/「オレをOrewo 倒すつもりならTaosu tsumori nara   死ぬほどShinuhodo 練習してこいRenshu shitekoi  」

‘Ore’ is a boy’s way to call yourself and it can also be written in kanji ‘俺’. ‘Taosu’ is to defeat and ‘tsumori’ means plan to do. ‘Shinu’ means to die and ‘Shinuhodo’ is an expression to show something is that much until it makes you feel like dying. ‘Renshu’ means to practice and ‘shitekoi’ means go and do it. So in this phrase, he is telling a person to go and practice to death. ‘Shinuhodo’ is very common and you will hear it in many manga or anime.

Image by: Slam Dunk comic 28 Ep 247 ©Takehiko Inoue, Shueisha Inc,

EN/ ‘I am Mitsui. Someone who’ll never give up’
JP/「俺は・・・Orewa 三井Mitsui諦めのAkirameno  悪い男 ・・・Warui otoko


Hisashi is known as the guy who doesn’t know how to give up. The phrase ‘Akirame no warui’ means someone who doesn’t give up easily. ‘Akirame’ is to give up and ‘warui’ means bad but if you combine the two words together it becomes ‘Akirame no Warui’ which means never give up. ‘Otoko’ means man.

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