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Japanese names of warships during World War II

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By World War II a fairly complete system was put in place for the naming of ships. The broad categories of names are given here, with examples:

Aircraft carriers — birds or mythical flying animals

Hiryu Hiryū 飛龍 Flying Dragon
Jun'yo Junyō 隼鷹 Peregrine Falcon
Hiyo Hiyō 飛鷹 Departing Falcon
Ryujo Ryūjō 龍驤 Prancing Dragon
Soryu Sōryū 蒼龍 Gray-Blue Dragon
Hiryu Hiryū 飛龍 Dragon flying in Heaven
Shokaku Shōkaku 翔鶴 Crane flying in heaven
Zuikaku Zuikaku 瑞鶴 Fortunate Crane
Shoho Shōhō 祥鳳 Phoenix Bringing Happiness
Hosho Hōshō 瑞鶴 How a Phoenix Dives
Zuiho Zuihō 瑞鳳 Fortunate Phoenix
Ryuho Ryūhō 龍鳳 Dragon Phoenix
Taiho Taihō 大鳳 Great Falcon
Unyo Unyō 雲鷹 Hawk tear the cloud
Taiyo Taiyō 大鷹 Goshawk
Chuyo Chūyō 冲鷹 Falcon lofty Seas
Shinyo Shinyo 神鷹 Condor
Unryuu Unryū 雲龍 Heavenward Bound Dragon Riding the Clouds
Ikoma Ikoma 生駒 Mount Ikoma in Nara Prefecture
Amagi Amagi 天城 Mount Amagi in Shizuoka (Heavenly Castle)
Aso Aso 阿蘇 Mount Aso (the largest active volcano in Japan)
Kasagi Kasagi 笠置 Kasagi Mountains, Nara prefecture (Kasa Castle)
Katsuragi Katsuragi 葛城 Mount Katsuragi, a mountain in Gose, Nara Prefecture (Katsura Castle)

NOTE: Kaga and Akagi carriers are listed in other categories. Also notice that, the Unryuu class carriers (except Lead ship Unryuu) - Katsuragi, Kasagi, Aso, Amagi and Ikoma are named after mountains.


Seaplane tenders (converted into light carriers)

Chiyoda Chiyoda 千代田 Millennial Field, or "Be sustained as a Field
Chitose Chitose 千歳 1000 years, or Long Life


Battleships, including those converted into aircraft carriers — provinces

Nagato Nagato 長門 Nagato province
Yamato Yamato 大和 Ancient Japanese Yamato province
Musashi Musashi 武蔵 Ancient Japanese Musashi province
Mutsu
Mutsu 陸奥 Mutsu Province
Yamashiro Yamashiro 山城 Yamashiro province
Ise Ise 伊勢 Ise province
Hyuga Hyūga 日向 Hyuga Province in Kyushu
Fuso Fusō 扶桑 old name for Japan
Shinano Shinano 信濃 Shinano province
Kaga Kaga 加賀 Kaga Province

Carrier Kaga is listed here because this ship was originally intended as Tosa-class battleship. Carrier Shinano was originally planned as Yamato-class battleship.

 

Battlecruisers, heavy cruisers - including those converted into aircraft carriers — mountains

Kongo Kongō 金剛 Mountain in Osaka prefecture (Indestructible)
Kirishima Kirishima 霧島 Volcano in Kagoshima prefecture
Hiei Hiei 比叡 Mount Hiei, northeast of Kyoto
Haruna Haruna 榛名 Mount Haruna - dormant stratovolcano in Gunma, eastern Honshu
Takao Takao たかお Mount Takao in Tokyo (High Hero)
Chokai Chōkai ちょうかい Volcano in Ugo province (Bird Sea)
Nachi Nachi 那智 Mountain in Wakayama Prefecture
Furutaka IJN Furutaka 古鷹 重巡洋艦 Mount Furutaka, located on Etajima, Hiroshima (Older Falcon)
Myoko Myōkō 妙高 Volcano located in southwestern Niigata Prefecture
Haguro Haguro 羽黒 Mount Haguro in Yamagata Prefecture
Kinugasa IJN Kinugasa 衣笠 重巡洋艦 Mount Kinugasa, located in Yokosuka, Kanagawa (Silk Parasol)
Kako IJN Kako 加古 重巡洋艦 Kakogawa River in Hyogo prefecture (Captain)
Akagi Akagi 赤城 Volcano in the Kanto region

Carrier Akagi is listed here, because she was originally begun as an Amagi-class battlecruiser. Notice also that, cruiser Kako is the only one heavy cruiser named after the river.


Light Cruisers — river names

Tone IJN Tone 利根 重巡洋艦 River in the Kanto region (Land Posessor)
Chikuma Chikuma 筑摩 重巡洋艦 River in Nagano prefecture
Suzuya Suzuya 鈴谷 River in Karafuto prefecture (now Sakhalin)
Mogami Mogami 最上 River in Yamagata Prefecture
Mikuma Mikuma 三隈, River in Oita prefecture (Three Corners)
Kumano Kumano 熊野 River Kumano-gawa or Shingu-gawa - Nara, Mie, Wakayama (Snowbell Ringer)
Oi IJN Ōi 大井 軽巡洋艦 River in Shizuoka prefecture (Greater Fountain)
Tama IJN Tama 多摩 軽巡洋艦 River in Kanto region (Mountain Top)
Kuma IJN Kuma 球磨 軽巡洋艦, River in Kumamoto prefecture (Wounded Valley)
Kitakami IJN Kitakami 北上 軽巡洋艦, River in Iwate prefecture (Territory)
Kiso IJN Kiso 木曽 軽巡洋艦 River in central Honshu (Steeop Slope)
Agano Agano 阿賀野 軽巡洋艦 River which flows from Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture (Slope Water)
Yahagi IJN Yahagi 矢矧 軽巡洋艦 River which flows from Nagano Prefecture (Arrow Maker)

Heavy cruisers Mikuma, Mogami, Kumano, Suzuya, Chikuma and Tone are listed here, because they were originally intended as light cruisers.


Heavy and light destroyers — weather

Ikazuchi Ikazuchi Thunder
Yukikaze Yukikaze 雪風 Snowy Air
Yukaze Yūkaze 夕風 Evening Wind
Matsu Matsu Pine Tree
Takanami Takanami 高波 High Wave
Akizuki Akizuki オータムムーン Autumn moon
Yugumo Yūgumo 夕雲 Evening Cloud
Ushio Ushio , Tide
Fubuki Fubuki 吹雪 Blizzard
Shirakumo Shirakumo 白雲 White Cloud
Uranami Uranami 浦波 Shore Wave
Shimakaze Shimakaze 島風 Island Wind
Kagero Kagerō 陽炎 Heat Waves
Natsushio Natsushio 夏潮 Summer Tide
Nowaki Nowaki 野分 Pacific Typhoon
Arashi Arashi Storm
Hibiki Hibiki , Echo
Asagiri Asagiri 朝霧 Morning Fog
Sazanami Sazanami , Ripples
Akebono Akebono Day Break
Oboro Oboro Gloom
Minekaze Minekaze 峯風 Summit Wind
Yudachi Yudachi 夕立 Evening Squall
Urakaze Urakaze 浦風 Wind in the Sea

 

  • Torpedo boats — birds
  • Submarines — not named
  • Submarine tenders — whales
  • Escorts (post-1940) — islands
Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 May 2010 10:18 )  

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