PKMN Japanese: Bulbasaur Line

Hello all, some of you may remember me from the Black/White and Black/White 2 coverage where I helped pokejungle with the initial release information and translation help, or my article last year on Team Plasma. Nether less, I come to you today as a part of the PokéJungle team with my own series of articles.

In this series, I intend to show, inform and break down the Japanese names for Pokémon as well as teaching you how to identify characters and to learn some new words. I will start from the beginning, each article focusing on a different evolution line.

First up; Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venusaur.

[spoiler]

Bulbasaur  (フシギダネ) Fushigidane

So first off, we have 5 characters here. For Japanese, names are mostly written in Katakana as opposed to their Hiragana counterparts.

フ- (Hu) often pronounced as ‘fu’ as in ‘fusion’

シ- (Shi) pronounced as ‘she’

キ – (Ki) pronounced as ‘key’

タ – (Ta) pronounced as ‘tah’ as in ‘Tank’

ネ – (Ne) pronounced as ‘neh’ as in ‘Net’

Now you’re probably wondering, Fushikitane, that doesn’t look nor sound right. That’s because it doesn’t. On the top right of the 3rd and 4th characters (Ki and Ta respectively) there appears to be two dashes. These dashes are called “Ten-Ten” and will change the consonant of the Character. In this case, ‘Ki’ becomes ‘Gi’ (as in Guitar) and ‘Ta’ becomes ‘Da’ (as in Dad).

Now is your turn, say it like this; ‘Fu-Shi-Gi-Da-Ne’. Break up the characters to get a better feel for each sound before combining them together to say ‘Fushigidane’.

With pronunciation out of the way, we can move onto the origin of the name. The name, Fushigidane, is a play on words forming the elliptical question; ‘Strange, isn’t it?’ ネ is a common sentence ending particle used as an elliptical question asking the receivers agreement or opinion on the subject at hand.

Fushigidane could mean ‘Strange Seed’.

フシギ (Fushigi)  means something strange, weird or mysterious, not something you would come across in your everyday life.

タネ (Tane) on the other hand, means a seed or stone of a plant. When combined with another word, Japanese words sometimes change. In this case, Tane becomes Dane (ダネ).

Ivysaur (フシギソウ) Fushigisou

Well, doesn’t this seem sort of familiar? As we know from Bulbasaur, the first three characters (フシギ) are Fu, Shi and Gi, together meaning strange.

But now we have two new ones:

ソ – (So) pronounced as ‘soh’ as in ‘Sock’

ウ – (U) pronounced as ‘oo’ as in ‘Ooze’

Now try; ‘Fu-Shi-Gi-So-U’ separately at first, then together in Fushigisou.

There are many variations of what Ivysaur’s name could mean. It can easily be a play on words meaning ‘it seems strange’; ソウ(sou) is a suffix drawing attention to the state of the object that the speaker notices.

相(ソウ) means physique or looks, making it ‘Strange-looking’ or ‘Strange-Physique’.

草(ソウ) means grass, seeming as Bulbasaur was a ‘Strage Seed’, it makes sense that Ivysaur could be ‘Strange grass’.

Venusaur (フシギバナ) Fushigibana

Again with the フシギ, this evolution line is a string of strange creatures, but aren’t most Pokemon? However like Ivysaur, we have two new characters following.

ハ – (Ha) pronounced as ‘ha’ as in ‘hat’

ナ – (Na) pronounced as ‘na’ as in ‘nap’

So here we go with ‘Ten-Ten’ again, in this case ハ ‘ha’, becomes バ ‘ba’ as in ‘bark’. Now, we have Fushigibana; Fu-Shi-Gi-Ba-Na.

Now you’re getting it! Good work!

The most common translation for Venusaur’s name is ‘Strange Flower’, coming from 花(はな)’hana’ meaning flower. This too fits in with the plant references from seed to grass, and finally flower.

However フシギバナ is also a play on words meaning ‘I suppose it is strange…’ バ is a supposition, the speaker making an assumption on the subject at hand, while ナis a strong, mostly masculine sentence ending particle showing strong emotion or emphasis on the sentence before.[/spoiler]

Congrats for making it through! Look forward to next week where I will be running through Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard!

~Silver out!

  1. Great article mate 🙂

    Always had an interest in the Japanese names of Pokemon and was quite unsure of meaning and pronunciation so I’m looking forward to your future articles 🙂

  2. Only thing I would point out…

    Ta isn’t the same noise in Japanese as in “tank.” That would be more of the Te (テ). It’s more of the noise in the word “top”.

    So would be more like the English word “so”. “Sock” has the sound that the character サ (sa) would make.

    Ha and Na are more like “Hot” and “Not”, not “Hat” and “Nap”. :S

    Sorry to sound like a stickler. Just wanted to help and give my input!

    Source: In Japan.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out!
      I didn’t want anyone to misunderstand the pronunciations.
      But, unlike you, I… felt a bit too lazy to type it out.
      =P

  3. I used to study Japanese so I can read the names but can’t always break down the words. Unfortunately I was not able to go to Japan and had to move on to another language ( I am in France now).
    Great post 🙂

  4. Holy cricket Ths article is amazing! I love the Japanese language (and would love to learn it, but it does seem a tad complicated :/)
    Maybe this can help me…?

  5. It seems by your article that you’re not American, so be careful with your pronunciation guide.
    I pronounce Guitar as “gih-tar” not “gee-tar.”
    Dad as “d(add)” not “dahd”
    Sock as “sahk” not “sohk”
    You get the idea.

    Just give generalizations for the vowel sounds. Consonants are obvious.
    A in Father (ah)
    I in Machine (ee)
    U in Luna (oo)
    E in Set (eh)
    O in Ocean (oh)

    So the pronunciations are like this:
    foo-she-gee-dah-neh
    foo-she-gee-soh
    foo-she-gee-bah-nah

    (Sorry, but one of my biggest pet peeves is mispronunciation of Japanese.)

  6. I’m also learning and memorizing Japanese Pokemon names. Name origins are quite interesting for me. I usually refer to Bulbapedia when checking them.

  7. Something I noticed: Having taken a few classes in both Japanese and Spanish, every vowel and the often-mispronounced “r” seem to be pronounced exactly the same way in both Japanese and Spanish.

    1. Yeah, I find it amusing discussing the whole ‘R’ and ‘L’ sounds. Myself, I pronounce it with a heavy ‘R’ sound, but my teacher was from Sendai and I lived in Hachinohe, both in Northern Honshu. I find generally Northern Japanese has a harsher ‘R’ sound while Western Japanese is a softer ‘L’ sound; but this is concrete however.

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