How did Japan get its name?

Asked 22-Jan-2018
Updated 22-Jan-2018
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1 Answer


Japan is an old word that is used in a variety of languages. Nippon and Nihon are the Japanese terms for Japan. They're both composed in Japanese with kanji characters.

Before the term Dai Nippon Teikoku became popular, Japan was known as Wa or Wakoku during the third-century Three Kingdoms period. At the time, the Yayoi people lived in Kyushu up to Kanto, and their name meant 'dwarf' or 'submissive' in Japanese. Because of the negative connotation, Japanese scribes formally modified the letters used to spell Japan's original name, Yamato, substituting the character for Wa with the homophone. The characters Wa and Yamato were frequently combined to form the name Yamato. The oldest reference is found in the Chinese Old Book of Tang, which mentions a name change in 703 when Japanese envoys sought it. The name change inside Japan is said to have occurred somewhere between 665 and 703. During the Heian period, it was progressively superseded by, which was initially called with the Chinese reading Nippon, then as Nifon, and finally as Nihon in current use, reflecting phonological shifts in Early Modern Japanese. In the year 1300, Marco Polo named Japan 'Cipangu,' based on the Chinese term, which meant'sun source land.' Malay and Indonesians initially introduced the words Jepang, Jipang, and Jepun to Portuguese commerce in Malacca in the 16th century. It was mostly referred to in English as Giapan in 1577. In 1577, it was primarily mentioned in English as Giapan. Portuguese missionaries arrived in Japan around the 16th century and established Middle Japanese rules of grammar and vocabulary. There are two entries in the 1603–1604 dictionary Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam: nifon and iippon. Many derivative names of Japan have since appeared on antique European maps.