Asahi Graph, January 1978

Customs Catalog / The gap between Yamatos

倭, 大倭, 大養徳, 山門, 山都, やまと, 大和. These names are all read as “Yamato.”

Many places in Japan have a “Yamato-cho” [town]: the Kumage District in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the Yamamon District in Fukuoka Prefecture, the Saga District in Saga Prefecture, the Minamiuonuma District in Niigata Prefecture, and the Nakano and Itabshi wards in Tokyo. There are cities named Yamato in Ibaraki, Yamanashi, Gifu, and Kagoshima Prefectures.

What seems a little strange is that in Nara Prefecture, the Land of Yamato, i.e., the Prefecture of Association, there are Yamatokoriyama and Yamatotakada, but no cities, towns, or villages simply named “Yamato.”

It has a displacement of 69,000 tons, a speed of 27 knots, and nine 46-ton guns. Even if you are not a weapons maniac, you immediately think of the prewar Japanese battleship Yamato.

Its velocity is 99% of the speed of light, and it exceeds the speed of light when in warp. Its range is unlimited. Equipment includes bedrock, a Wave-Motion Gun at the bow, triple shock turrets, and so on.

If you can guess what this refers to, you must be well-versed in modern affairs. The answer is Space Battleship Yamato.

In the year 2199, the people of Earth, on the verge of extinction under attack from space invaders, convert the battleship into a space battleship, which they name “Space Battleship Yamato.” Its mission is to sail 148,000 light-years away to a planet of love and peace to receive a device to save the earth.

Since it was aired on TV earlier and released as a theatrical movie last summer, the boom is so great that its theme song became a big hit, and mooks about it have been published.

Even so, there is a simple difference between 大和 (Chinese kanji characters) and ヤマト (Japanese katakana characters). One was a tragic warship that sank to the bottom of the sea south of Kyushu without making full use of its huge guns. The other is a hero in the world of animation. The gap between the two is quite large.

As might be expected in the Land of the Rising Sun, the streets are flooded with stores, companies, and products bearing the various names of Yamato. Is there a difference between the Battleship 大和 and the Space Battleship ヤマト? Let’s take a quick look at the word “Yamato” in various cities, and see if we can find the differences between them.

Read more about the derivations of the name “Yamato” here.

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