A new name

I was christened my last night in Japan, though, seeing that it was Japan, maybe I was buddha’ed. You see, my English (or rather Nordic) name doesn’t translate well into Japanese. There is no “si” in nihongo, only “shi”. And a “shiri”, or “oshiri” if you’re being polite, is one’s bottom, one’s buttocks, …one’s ass. So, I asked my dining companions, Yuriko and Hikari, for a new name. I needed a Japanese name. I needed to be something other than one’s ass when in Japan.

This was indeed a project. What did “Siri” mean? (I’ve forgotten). What was my middle name? (Elin). Were there any flowers I particularly liked? (Irises, rhododendrons). Hmmmm. Those don’t translate well in Japanese.  My grandmother’s name was Lillie, but Yuriko means lily, and I can’t really pick my friend’s name. And I’m not always a fan of the blossom.  Sakura has an ‘s’ and an ‘r’ and is a cherry blossom, but my ex-boyfriend’s sister is named Sakura, so that seems weird too.

“Oh!” Hikari looked up. “What do you think of ‘Nanami’? It means ‘the seven seas’”. Ah ha! Perfect! And 7 was one of my lucky numbers! And so it was. We were in Tokyo at a little izakaya in Shibuya, when I got my new name.

I’m not certain that I’ll use it. I’m so attached to “Siri”, despite it’s most recent hijacking by a much-too-calm and hard-of-hearing robotic voice.  And really, bottoms aren’t so bad. They’re rather important. Can you imagine life without your bottom? Sitting down would be terribly difficult. And I’m rather fond of sitting down. And what a good way not to take myself too seriously.

But Nanami is quite nice. “Hello, I’m the seven seas”.  It sounds rather expansive. Not sure I can live up to it. Of course, I tell everyone that “Siri” means “Goddess of Wisdom” because I can’t remember what it means. Apparently living up to my name has never been a concern.


2 thoughts on “A new name

  1. Pingback: The importance of timing, and the kindness of strangers | Siri Hakala

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