1952 年 1 巻 2 号 p. 1-10
The difficulties of place name interpretation have long been recongnized by leading Japanese geographers. Underlying this problem is the fact that place names may be rooted in natural as well as cultural or man-made phenomena, thus introducing elements of great complexity and diversity. Furthermore, it frequently occurs that place names which may have been fresh in the beginning, later become fossil names often unfamiliar to modern ears. Most certainly, another complicating factor is the infiltration of Ainu, Korean and other foreign terms into the language. On the other hand, it appears that certain names may have their origins in surely local dialects frequently unintelligible to outsiders. Finally, the existence of ateji deserves to be emphasized as one of the major complicating factors in Japanese place name interpretation. With different Chinese characters pronounced alike and applied to the same place names, it becomes quite difficult to reinterpret such names. When binding the significance of place names to the character meanings, far-fetched interpretations often result.
In studying the complicated place names of Japan, a grouping based upon certain significant criteria may be employed. Of primary interest in this paper are those place names associated with topography, more particularly, those which concern “escarpment.”
Not only has the escarpment remarkable topographic characteristics but it is often associated with cultural aspects of significance to human life, for example, its functions as a barrier to communication as well as a limitation upon land utilization. Thus by its very nature, the escarpment often attracts the attention of people and is utilized as a point of origin in the development of place names. Below are ten items concerned with place names related to the topography of escarpments. Various ateji are used for these names.
1. “Kura” and “Kake”
Kura has two meanings. By kura is meant a mountain on one hand and a valley on the other. It often occurs that the mountain or valley having the name of kura is not a common type of either, but has conspicuous escarpments, crumbled valleys or expanses of exposed bare rock. Kake is also applied to the escarment. Many of the mountains termed kurakake have escarpments in them.
Mama is another of the names derived from the escarpment. It is distributed throughout Eastern Japan, southern Kwanto being its center, and is a good example of the necessity to be concerned with the pronounciation rather than the meaning of Chinese characters associated with it.
3. “Kue” and “tsue”
These are found in large numbers particularly in Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu. Both terms mean “crumbling”.
4. “Hake” (Hakke, Bake, Bakke) and “Hoki” (Hokki)
Hake and others of its group ……hakke, bake and bakke……are distributed over Eastern Japan particularly in the surroundings of Tokyo. Hoki (hokki) is a fossil word meaning “escarpment” and is found mainly in Western Japan especially in Shikoku and Kyushu.
It is found in the Nobi Plain and in areas to the east of it.
6. “Nagi”, “Kama” and “Nuke”
These are often applied to such narrow valleys as radiating valleys on the slopes of a volcano or escarpments of horseshoe type. In addition kama is widely applied to common escarpment or cave topography.
7. “Gare”, “Zare” and “Zore”
Often these are also applied to steep slopes or escarpments having many crumbled rocks and walls. They are distributed all over Japan.