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Type Political Subdivision & Settlement
Usage Japanese
Scripts 奈良(Japanese Kanji) なら(Japanese Hiragana) ナラ(Japanese Katakana)
Pronounced Pron. NAH-ṘAH, /naɾa/  [key·simplify]

Meaning & History

This is the name of a city which is the capital of Nara Prefecture in western Japan. The kanji used are 奈 (dai, na, nai, ikan, karanashi) meaning "Nara, what?" and 良 (ryou, i.i, yo.i, ra) meaning "good, pleasing, skilled."

The origin of Nara is unclear, however there are various theories to its origin.
The most dominant and likely theory is in "The Study of Place Names" by notable folklorist, Kunio Yanagida. He stated that a terrain laying on relatively easy slope in the hillside (called "ta(h)ira" in the Kantō and "hae" in southern Kyūshū) is called "naru" in the Chūgoku region and Shikoku with narasu (verb), narashi (adverb) and narushi (adjective) as its transformations. The transcription of "naru", such as 平, 阝+平 or 坪, all involve 平 (meaning "flat"), thus, he says, "the letters prove the meaning of the word". Also, since 平地 is called "naruji" in the Book of Inaba, he inferred that it was used as a common noun until the modern period with "Nara" and "Naro" as its variants and Nara was also written as 平 or 平城.

Nara is also used as a surname and a feminine given name.
Means "good horse-chestnut" in Japanese.
Added 1/26/2015 by m4yb3_daijirou
Edited 4/30/2024 by HL, japanese_names, Mike C and more