Reading that has nothing to do with the Kanji

I picked up 向日葵 (sunflower) recently. Makes perfect sense, a flower that turns towards the sun. Self-evident.

Except the reading is ひまわり. That, too, makes quite some sense, a sun-turn. Only it’s got nothing at all to do with the Kanji, except for the ひ, which is in the wrong place.

As per jisho, there is an alternate version, 日回り, which would fit the reading.

What I wonder is, how can the reading from that version have transferred to the apparently more common version?

In a wider sense, how can Japanese people see the one and read the other?


There are plenty of these. There’s actually a whole thread about this here:

1 Like

this was in the Japanese ES ‘Hi Friends’ English textbook lol, there are a lot of these

I don’t have a good answer to your overall question but

in the case of the word for sunflower, it’s typically written in kana, so they rarely ever need to read the kanji form.


Yes, plenty of examples like イルカ kanji is 海豚 (sea pig)

1 Like

This is called jukujikun, where a word of Japanese origin is applied to multiple kanji as a set that have been chosen for the meaning they express.

It’s the same category of words as 今日 and 大人.


Also note that occasionally you will see Japanese words that have furigana to show what a character is actually saying while Kanji is given to show context. Let me pull up an example:

Here the character (Saki) is requesting to be admitted into Mahjong Club. What she actually says is:


But the kanji replaces ここ with 麻雀部, which is just there to let the reader know that by “here” she means Mahjong Club.

This is only something you can see I works aimed at adults, since the furigana must be above all words in stuff meant for kids.


Oh my god thank you for pointing this out. Now that I know this is a thing the book I’m reading will be less confusing.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.