Kunoichi: The Fascination Behind the Word

Kunoichi: The Fascination Behind the Word

At the end of SKE48 Zero Position #51, there’s a clip about Futamura Haruka participating in this year’s kunoichi. I just learned this word at the beginning of this year. You can say it is “female ninja” in English. When I encountered this word for the first time, and knew the origin of the word, I was fascinated by it. I told my friend who also learned Japanese at the time, and even if he amazed by the origin of the word, he already knew the word. I was surprised and questioned myself, am I not studying hard enough?

I remembered there are at least two episodes in Ebi Series where Takayanagi Akane dressed as female ninja. The first time I watched it, I don’t understand Japanese that much so I relied on english subtitle. Because my Japanese was improving, I decided to watch it again, hoping I can catch someone said the word. Apparently, the word wasn’t mentioned, they used ninja and shinobi instead.

So what’s so fascinating about this word? As you can see from Futamura’s picture above, the word kunoichi is written in katakana クノイチ.  Another way to write it is with くノ一 and let me explain it to you how amazing it is.

く = ku (hiragana)
ノ = no (katakana)
一 = ichi (kanji)

The word itself use all Japanese writing system. I think this is the original way to write the word. Why? Because, when you write kanji 女 which means woman or female, normally you start with く, then continue with ノ and then end it with 一. Amazing isn’t it? The word is derived from how another word is written. I never encounter such a thing before in my native language and another language that I’ve learned.

How about your language? Is there a word that has origin like this?


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