The meaning behind three Japanese nicknames

In addition to “country of the rising sun”, “land of cherry blossoms”, Japan is also known as “”, but few people know the meaning of these names.

Japan is a famous destination in the world with its bold culture and unique cuisine. This country has up to three different names that are still widely used, but not everyone knows their meaning.

Country of Phu Tang

For a long time, “origin of Phu Tang” implicitly became a Vietnamese word for Japan.

According to the Japanese – Vietnamese bilingual dictionary compiled and released in 1979 by Onochi Seiji, “Phu Tang” is explained with three meanings: sun tree (mythology); East and sunrise country (Japan).

According to ancient Eastern legend, the hollow mulberry tree is called Phu Tang or Khong Tang. As the sun god rode the train across the sky from East to West, he stopped under the mourning tree. In ancient literature, Fusang is also used for sunrise.

Ancient Chinese documents mention only Fusang as the god of carpentry; Funeral is a country in the east of China in general that does not assume it to be the mulberry tree or the country of Japan.


The majestic Mount Fuji of Japan. Photo: Pinterest.

Dr. Pham Thu Giang of Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities has faced doubts from the Japanese when translating “Phu Tang” into Fusō (扶桑). She conducted a small survey with 50 Vietnamese and 50 Japanese, with the desire to clarify this.

The results showed that most of the Vietnamese, when asked, confirmed that “Phu Tang” was Japan or a region of Japan. While the Japanese surveyed were confused when choosing multiple choice, one of which was their home country.

The research results also show that Chinese historical records are inconsistent with the Fusang tree as well as the country named after this plant. Fusang can be used as a fine word, a concept that is conventional and imaginary, but sometimes refers to a country or land of real existence.

Therefore, the origin of Phu Tang may be the name accepted by many Vietnamese people with the meaning of only Japan, but it is not really accurate and popular with the Japanese.

The country of the rising sun

According to many people’s understanding, Japan is located in the easternmost part of Asia, so it will be the place to welcome the first sunrise of the continent. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand when “sunrise country” is the most popular name of this country.

In fact, the kanji in the Japanese national name means “the root of the sun”, and the people of this country have long taken the image of the sun seriously. According to the Nihon Shoki ancient documents, the emperors of Japan are also considered descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu.


Japan is the first country to catch the dawn in Asia. Photo: Fit News.

To the Japanese, cherry blossoms symbolize beauty, fragility and purity. Originally a flower “blossoming quickly”, cherry blossoms symbolize the “death path” of Japanese samurai – samurai living and dying like cherry blossoms.

Although not officially recognized as the national flower, cherry blossoms still hold a special place for the Japanese. Images of cherry blossoms appear in traditional costumes, food, decorative motifs, or 100 yen coins and 1,000 yen banknotes. For these reasons, Japan is also known as the land of cherry blossoms.

This fragile flower appears everywhere in Japan. Flowers usually bloom in the spring around March, April, early and late depending on the place. In the warmer southern Japan, flowers can bloom from late January, while in the northern Hokkaido region, flowers can bloom in May.

So cherry blossom lovers can watch the flowers according to the itinerary going from south to north for many months, although cherry blossoms usually only last about 1-2 weeks when they bloom.

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