Nara? (And also what are kanji names even)


Recently, I learned the kanji “Nara”, which I thought was a weird meaning for a Kanji.

Then, when looking in which words would be constructed from this, I found that it is not only part of the city name for Nara, but is also part of some other random prefecture’s names:

Does this kanji really mean Nara? Does Nara mean Nara Good, which means Nara Good Good, which means Nara Good Good Good etc.

And an even bigger question, are all kanji names actually the correct kanji name? Or are some named for vocabulary convenience only, as they are never used on their own anyway?


The actual meaning of 奈 is “how” or “what.” This kanji is not a kokuji (kanji invented in Japan), so it would be kind of odd for it to have originally meant a place in Japan.

Yes, its meaning on WK is one of convenience for the vocab.

奈良 and 奈良県 both refer to the place, not like, a person’s name.


I know it’s a place, I meant name as in place name. In hindsight, that might have sounded more natural in my own language.

Well, you said “some other random prefectures”, which made me think you were counting 奈良県 as something separate from 奈良.

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Just asked a bunch of my Japanese co-workers about this kanji, and their first thought was Nara. According to Jisho, this kanji isn’t really used that often outside of definitions relating to Nara, which is why it might be listed as the definition.

On a side note, I live right by a place called 尾奈 (おな), which is decidedly not anywhere near Nara… I think I’m gonna have to end up adding a synonym for this one when I get to it…


Basically it’s become あて字 for the sound な in names of places and people.

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Used for pronunciation only nara, kanagawa…

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