A Little About Japanese Hosta Terms

Mikiko Lockwood

   

    H. montana is a green hosta. The hosta in the picture is H. montana 'Aureomarginata', a sport of H. montana. "Aureo" means yellow, and "marginata" means margined in Latin. In the same way, Japanese name for H. montana is 'Oba Giboshi', and its sport, H. montana 'Aureomarginata', is called 'Kifukurin Oba Giboshi'. If you guess "Kifukurin" means yellow-edge, you are correct!

    If you are familiar with Japanese hosta names, you may have noticed that many hostas are called by "descriptive word(s) + parent plant", just like 'Kifukurin Oba Giboshi'. For example, some sports of 'Otome Giboshi' (H. venusta) are:
           'Kinakafu Otome Giboshi' (yellow-centered venusta)
           'Shironakafu Otome Giboshi' (white-centered venusta)
           'Yonbaitai Otome Giboshi' (tetraploid venusta)
    Understanding these terms used in hosta names, therefore, would help identify hostas with Japanese names. The list below is a collection of some Japanese hosta terms and their meanings as well as a list of original Japanese hosta names which differ from the names used by Western hosta growers. At the end, there is a quick reference guide on how to pronounce Japanese words.
    I hope you will find this article helpful in understanding Japanese hostas.

Japanese Hosta Terms
Jump to Hosta Name Cross Reference | Pronunciation

        Some terms are combination of multiple words: e.g. kifukurin = ki fukurin = ki-fukurin. As far as I know, they are all permissive. Many of these terms are also used for other plants.
Japanese Hosta Term Meaning Used in...
aka () red akajiku
akajiku (赤軸) red petiole .
ao () blue, green aoba, aojiku
aoba (アオバ, 青葉) green leaf 'Aoba Hyuga', 'Aoba Komachi'
aojiku (青軸) green petiole 'Aojiku Iwa Giboshi', 'Aojiku Tama No Yuki'
-ba (葉) -leaf, -leafed 'Kinba', aoba (green leaf), atsuba (thick leaf)
-bana (花) flower, bloom kibana (yellow flower), shirobana (white flower)
beni (紅) red, rouge 'Katsuragawa Beni'
-buchi edged, margined 'Ginbuchi Tachi', 'Kinbuchi Tachi', 'Shirobuchi Koba'
chirifu (散斑) speckled, mottled, overall variegated 'Chirifu Hime Tokudama', montana 'Chirifu'
fu-, -fu (斑) variegation ki nakafu (yellow-center), shiro shimafu (white-streak)
fuiri (斑入) variegated 'Fuiri Iwa', 'Fuiri Oba', 'Fuiri Unazuki'
fukafukurin, fuka fukurin
(深覆輪)
wide margin(ed) 'Fukafukurin Tosayama Giboshi'
fukurin (覆輪) margined, edged 'Fukurin Ko Mame', 'Fukurin Tosayama'
-gawa (川) river 'Yoshinogawa', 'Katsuragawa Beni'
giboshi, giboushi, gibousi (ギボウシ) hosta ,
gin (ギン, 銀)
*pronounces like "gingham" and "gingko" (ginkgo)
silver 'Ginbuchi Tachi', 'Ginrei'
ginba (銀葉) silver (white) leaf; a leaf that looks silvery from waxy coating on it 'Chodai Ginba', 'Ginba Giboshi'
The Japanese kanji
銀葉 (ginba) could be also read as 'ginyo'.
ginbuchi silver-edge(d), white-edge(d) 'Ginbuchi Tachi'
henshu (変種) sport  
hime (ヒメ, 姫) small, mini, dwarf, princess 'Hime Ogon Iwa', 'Hime Tokudama', 'Kii Hime'
hosoba (細葉) narrow leaf, narrow-leafed 'Hosoba Mizu Giboshi', 'Hosoba Otome Giboshi'
iwa (イワ, 岩) rock, Iwa Giboshi, H. longipes 'Hime Ogon Iwa', 'Shirofukurin Hime Iwa'
junpakuka, jyunpaku-ka (純白花) pure white flower H. hypoleuca 'Jyunpakuka-akebono'
-kawa (川) river (same as "-gawa") 'Kinokawa'
ki (黄) yellow, gold 'Ki Hachijo', 'Ki Chirifu Oba Giboshi', Iwa Giboshi 'Kibana'
ki chirifu, kichirifu (黄散斑) yellow-speckled 'Kichirifu Oba Giboshi'
ki fukurin, kifukurin (黄覆輪) yellow-edge(d), yellow-margin(ed) 'Kifukurin Ko Mame', 'Kifukurin Urajiro Hyuga'
ki nakafu, kinakafu (黄中斑) yellow-center(ed) 'Kinakafu Otome', 'Kinakafu Tachi'
kin (金) gold / yellow 'Kinbotan', 'Kinba'
kinba, kimba (金葉) yellow leaf 'Kinba Amagi'
kinbuchi gold-edged, yellow-edged 'Kinbuchi Tachi'
kishimafu, ki shimafu (黄縞斑) yellow-stripe(d), yellow-streak(ed) 'Kishimafu Sudare Giboshi', 'Kishimafu Urajiro Saigoku Iwa Giboshi'
koba (コバ, 小葉) small leaf, Koba Giboshi, H. sieboldii 'Ogon Koba', 'Mishima Fukurin Koba'
kodakarasaki, kodakarazaki (子宝咲) No English word for this blooming habit --
multiple flowers growing from one pedicel, or within another flower (similar to "hose in hose")
'Kodakarazaki Giboshi'
 
Photos by Ken-ichi Gonokami
kofuki (コフキ, 粉吹) glaucous 'Kofuki Iwa Giboshi'
komachi (小町) a beauty, a belle 'Kyo Komachi', 'Tsugaru Komachi'
koryu, Kouryu (甲竜, 甲龍) raised ridge along the center of a leaf
koryuba (koryu leaves)
 
Photos by Ken-ichi Gonokami
kuro (クロ, 黒) black, dark colored 'Kuro Giboshi' (H. nigrescens)
kurobana, kuro bana (クロバナ, 黒花) dark-color flower  
maruba (マルバ, 丸葉) round leaf, round-leafed 'Maruba Iwa', 'Maruba Tamanokanzashi' (H. plantaginea)
megawari, mekawari (芽変わり) sport  
midori () green 'Midori-no-ya'
misho (実生) seedling .
mizu (ミズ) water, 'Mizu Giboshi', H. longissima 'Shirofukurin Hosoba Mizu'
moegi (萌黄) light (yellowish) green, lime green 'Moegi Fukurin Otome', 'Moegi Fukurin Akikaze'
murasaki (ムラサキ) purple 'Murasaki Giboshi' (H. ventricosa)
nagaba (長葉) narrow long leaf(ed) 'Nagaba Mizu Giboshi', 'Nagaba Musashino'
nakafu (中斑) medio-variegated 'Nakafu Kiyosumi', 'Nakafu Tsugaru Komachi'
nishiki (ニシキ, 錦) brocade (rich-colored woven fabrics), i.e. something colorful and beautiful 'Omatsu-san Nishiki', 'Amagi Nishiki', 'Choko Nishiki'
nochikurami (後暗み) viridescent  
nochizae (後冴え) lutescent  
oba, ooba (オオバ, 大葉) large leaf, 'Oba Giboshi', H. montana 'Yae-no-Oba Giboshi'
ogon, oogon (黄金) gold, yellow 'Ogon Koba', 'Ogon Tachi', 'Ogon Tsushima'
ohatsuki (オハツキ) leafy-scape 'Ohatsuki Giboshi' ('Undulata Erromena'), 'Fukurin Ohatsuki Giboshi' ('Undulata Albomarginata')
otome maiden, 'Otome Giboshi', H. venusta 'Otome-no-mai', 'Ki Nakafu Otome'
rasha (ラシャ, 羅紗), rashaba (ラシャ葉, 羅紗葉) No English word for this leaf texture --
thick and hard leaf with rough surface

W. George Schmid describes Rasha leaf as:
"Uniquely contorted leaf with an unevenly knotty and knurled surface texture"
'Rashaba Saikoku Iwa Giboshi' (photo below)
'Rashao Iwa'

    

 

renge lotus, 'Renge Giboshi', H. 'Fortunei' 'Kifukurin Renge Giboshi' ('Fortunei Aureomarginata')
shima (縞) stripe(d), streak(ed) kishima or ki shima (yellow streaked), shiroshima or shiro shima (white streaked)
-shima / -jima (島) Island 'Saishu Jima', 'Yakushima Giboshi' (H. sieboldii f. spathulata)
shiro (白) white 'Shiro Kabitan', shiroshimafu (white streaked)
shirobana (白花) white flower 'Shirobana Keirin' (H. minor 'Alba'), 'Shirobana Tachi', 'Shirobana Urajiro'
shirobuchi white edge(d) 'Shirobuchi Koba'
shiro chirifu, shirochirifu (白散斑) white-speckled 'Shiro Chirifu Saikoku Iwa Giboshi'
shiro fukurin, shirofukurin (白覆輪) white-edge(d), white-margin(ed) 'Shirofukurin Koba', 'Shirofukurin Oba', 'Shirofukurin Tachi'
shiro nakafu, shironakafu (白中斑) white-center(ed) 'Shironakafu Otome', 'Shironakafu Saikoku Iwa'
The Japanese kanji
白中斑 (shiro-naka-fu) could be also read as 'haku-chu-han'.
shiro shimafu, shiroshimafu (白縞斑) white-stripe(d), white-streak(ed) 'Shiroshimafu Saigoku Iwa Giboshi'
suji (スジ) streak, line 'Kisuji', 'Suji Giboshi' ('Undulata')
tabenka (多弁花) flower with more petals than normal  
tachi (タチ) upright, 'Tachi Giboshi', H. rectifolia 'Amime Tachi', 'Ginbuchi Tachi'
tsubomi (ツボミ) flower bud 'Tsubomi Giboshi' (H. clausa)
urajiro (ウラジロ, 裏白) white-backed, white underside 'Urajiro Giboshi' (H. hypoleuca), 'Urajiro Hyuga Giboshi' (H. kikutii f. leuconota)
yae, (八重), yae-no (八重の) double flower 'Yae no Maruba Tama-no-Kanzashi' (H. plantaginea 'Aphrodite')
yama mountain, Mt. 'Ibukiyama Giboshi'
yonbaitai (四倍体) tetraploid Yonbaitai 'Nakafu Otome Giboshi', Yonbaitai 'Silver Streak'

Hosta Names Cross Reference
Jump to  Japanese Hosta Terms | Pronunciation
Japanese Name in Japanese Writing Western Name
Akebono Tokudama アケボノトクダマ; 曙トクダマ H. 'Tokudama Aureonebulosa'
Akikaze Giboshi アキカゼギボウシ H. cathayana
Amagi Iwa Giboshi アマギイワギボウシ, 天城イワギボウシ, 天城岩ギボウシ H. longipes var. latifolia
Ani Giboshi 阿仁ギボウシ H. 'Ani Machi'
Baran Giboshi バランギボウシ H. alismifolia
Choko Nishiki 朝光錦 H. 'On Stage'
Fugire Giboshi フギレギボウシ H. yingeri
Fukurin Ohatsuki Giboshi フクリンオハツキギボウシ, 覆輪オハツキギボウシ H. 'Undulata Albomarginata'
Hachijo Giboshi ハチジョウギボウシ, 八丈ギボウシ H. rupifraga
Hime Iwa Giboshi ヒメイワギボウシ H. gracillima
Hitotsuba Giboshi ヒトツバギボウシ, 一ッ葉ギボウシ H. hypoleuca
Hyuga Giboshi ヒュウガギボウシ, 日向ギボウシ H. kikutii
Iwa Giboshi イワギボウシ, 岩ギボウシ H. longipes
Izu Iwa Giboshi イズイワギボウシ, 伊豆イワギボウシ, 伊豆岩ギボウシ H. longipes var. latifolia
Kanzashi Giboshi カンザシギボウシ H. nakaiana
Keirin Giboshi ケイリンギボウシ H. minor
Kifukurin Murasaki Giboshi キフクリンムラサキギボウシ, 黄覆輪ムラサキギボウシ H. ventricosa 'Aureomarginata'
Kifukurin Oba Giboshi キフクリンオオバギボウシ, 黄覆輪オオバギボウシ, 黄覆輪大葉ギボウシ H. montana 'Aureomarginata'
Kifukurin Renge Giboshi キフクリンレンゲギボウシ, 黄覆輪レンゲギボウシ H. 'Fortunei Aureomarginata'
Kifukurin Tokudama キフクリントクダマ, 黄覆輪トクダマ H. 'Tokudama Flavocircinalis'
Kinakafu Renge Giboshi 黄中斑レンゲギボウシ H. 'Fortunei Albopicta'
Koba Giboshi コバギボウシ, 小葉ギボウシ H. sieboldii
Kofuki Iwa Giboshi コフキイワギボウシ H. longipes hypoglauca
Kogarashi Giboshi コガラシギボウシ H. 'Tortifrons'
Kuro Giboshi クロギボウシ H. nigrescens
Maruba Tama No Kanzashi マルバタマノカンザシ H. plantaginea
Michinoku Nishiki ミチノクニシキ, みちのく錦 H. 'Ani Machi'
Mizu Giboshi ミズギボウシ H. longissima
Murasaki Giboshi ムラサキギボウシ H. ventricosa
Nagasaki Giboshi ナガサキギボウシ H. tibae
Nameru Giboshi ナメルギボウシ H. montana var. glabra
Nankai Giboshi ナンカイギボウシ H. tardiva
Nishiki Giboshi ニシキギボウシ H. 'Opipara'
Oba Giboshi オオバギボウシ, 大葉ギボウシ H. montana
Ohatsuki Giboshi オハツキギボウシ H. 'Undulata Erromena'
Ohigan Giboshi オヒガンギボウシ H. aequinoctiiantha
Omoto Giboshi オモトギボウシ H. rhodeifolia
Otahuku Giboshi オタフクギボウシ H. 'Decorata', 'Thomas Hogg' (in the U. S.)
Otome Giboshi オトメギボウシ H. venusta
Renge Giboshi レンゲギボウシ H. 'Fortunei'
Saikoku Iwa Giboshi サイコクイワギボウシ H. longipes var. caduca
Saji Giboshi サジギボウシ H. 'Lancifolia'
Sakuhana Giboshi サクハナギボウシ H. clausa var. normalis
Sazanami Giboshi サザナミボウシ H. 'Crispula'
Setouchi Giboshi セトウチギボウシ H. pycnophylla
Shiro Kabitan シロカビタン, 白カビタン H. 'Haku Chu Han', H. 'Silver Kabitan'
Shirofukurin Ohatsuki Giboshi 白覆輪オハツキギボウシ H. 'Undulata Albomarginata'
Sudare Giboshi スダレギボウシ H. kikutii var. polyneuron
Suji Giboshi スジギボウシ H. 'Undulata'
Tachi Giboshi タチギボウシ H. rectifolia
Tō Giboshi トウギボウシ H. sieboldiana
Tsubomi Giboshi ツボミギボウシ H. clausa
Tsushima Giboshi ツシマギボウシ H. tsushimensis
Ubatake Giboshi ウバタケギボウシ H. pulchella
Unazuki Giboshi ウナズキギボウシ H. kikutii var. caput-avis
Urajiro Giboshi ウラジロギボウシ, 裏白ギボウシ H. hypoleuca
Urajiro Hyuga Giboshi ウラジロヒュウガギボウシ, 裏白日向ギボウシ H. kikutii f. leuconota
Yae No Maruba Tama No Kanzashi ヤエノマルバタマノカンザシ, 八重マルバタマノカンザシ, 八重丸葉タマノカンザシ H. plantaginea 'Aphrodite'
Yakushima Giboshi ヤクシマギボウシ, 屋久島ギボウシ H. sieboldii f. spathulata


How to Pronounce Japanese
Jump to Japanese Hosta Terms | Hosta Name Cross Reference
    So you are interested in learning how to pronounce Japanese words in your favorite hosta names. Great! I would love to help. But please remember this is a quick refenrence to help you say the hosta names. It explains basic pronunciation, and does not include any details or exceptions.

    Unlike French or Chinese languages, Japanese pronunciation is rather simple. Each Japanese sound is accompanied by a vowel, with an exception of "n," and there are five vowels:
a,   e,   i,   o,   u


    There is only one way to pronounce each vowel. In English, for example, the letter "a" sounds differently in the words magic, many and mate. That does not happen in Japanese.

   Now let's try to pronounce these five vowels.

   The letter "a" sounds almost like: "u" in but or fun.
However, "ah" sound like in almond or father is also acceptable.
   The letter "e" sounds almost like: "eh" just like echo or pen
   The letter "i" sounds almost like: "ee" just like feet or keep.
   The letter "o" sounds almost like: "o" just like over or so.
   The letter "u" sounds almost like: "oo" just like cook or wood.

    Once you master the vowels, the rest is easy. You break a word into syllables, and presto! Now here are some exercises for you.

 
Name Syllables Pronunciation
Amime Tachi A - mi - me  ta - chi ah - mee - meh  tah - chee
Gaijin Ga - i - ji - n gah - ee - jee - n
Geisha Ge - i - sha geh - ee - shah
Hime Hi - me hee - meh
Hirao Hi - ra - o hee - rah - oh
Ko Mame Ko  Ma - me koh  mah - meh
Maekawa Ma - e - ka - wa mah - eh - kah - wah
Renge Re - n - ge reh - n - geh (like in get or guess)
Sagae Sa - ga - e sah - gah - eh
Saishujima Sa - i - shu - ji - ma sah - ee - shoo - jee - mah
Tamanokanzashi Ta - ma - no - kan - za - shi tah - mah - no - kah - n - zah - shee

 

    "Tamanokanzashi" - that's a long word! Did you wonder which sound you should put stress on? Glad you wondered. Japanese does have some stress and intonation, but it is much flatter than English. As long as you pronounce vowels (a, e, i, o, u) correctly, you can assume your pronunciation of the hosta name is good enough. Good luck!

 



References
"The Hostapedia, An Encyclopedia of Hostas" by Mark R. Zilis (Rochell, Illinois: Q & Z Nursery, 2009)
"Giboshi Zukan (
ギボウシ図鑑)" by Japan Hosta Society (Tokyo, Japan: Seibundo-Shinkosha, 2010)
"The Observation and The Cultivation of Hosta"(
ギボウシの観察と栽培) by Kenji Watanabe (Tokyo, Japan: New Science, 1985)
the Hosta Treasury;   Hosta Species Update by W. George Schmid;   HOSTA LIBRARY
..and many other English and Japanese catalogs, publications and web sites

 


Please be reminded that above lists are not complete nor official.
They are based on my interpretation and view as a native Japanese speaker, and limited to my knowledge.
I am not responsible if someone has different opinions or does not agree with me.