Haikyuu: Meaning Behind The Character's Names (Karasuno Edition)

Names have major implications in Japanese culture, and they are believed to symbolize you as a person. Let's look into the meanings of some of the Karasuno high school volleyball players' names.

· 7 min read
Haikyuu: Meaning Behind The Character's Names (Karasuno Edition)
Haikyuu (Karasuno) 

Haruichi Furudate's popular sports manga series Haikyu!! is written and illustrated by him. Shoyo, a middle schooler, was inspired by the 'Tiny Giant,' a high school volleyball star, and aspires to be like him one day.

Shoyo meets Tobio, who defeated him terribly in a middle school volleyball match after he finally got it into the 'Karasuno High School' where his role model used to attend.

Tobio, unlike Shoyo, is a well-known and talented high school volleyball player. Despite their antagonism, they come up with a brilliant new strategy and form an unexpected relationship. They want to be at the very top alongside their classmates.

What Does Haikyuu!! Means?

In the Japanese version, it's named 'Haikyu!!' (ハイキュー!!). In Japanese, the word 'Haikyu' denotes volleyball, while the term, バレーボール, Bareboru' is more widely used. 'Haikyu' is written in kanji as "‘排球", where 'Hai'(排) means to push aside and 'Kyu'(球) is a ball.

What are the meanings behind the characters’ names? (Karasuno Edition)

Names have major implications in Japanese culture, and they are believed to symbolize you as a person. In hiragana, katakana, and kanji, names can be written. Let's look into the meanings of some of the Karasuno high school volleyball players' names.

Shoyo Hinata (日向 翔陽, Hinata Shōyō)

Hinata Shouyo

Let's begin with Shoyo, the story's primary character. He isn't particularly tall, but he has remarkable stamina and jumping ability. 'Hi'(日) means sun, and 'Nata'(向) means face; when the two kanji are combined, the result is 'Hinata'(日向) the sunny side. 'Shou'(翔) means 'to soar,' and 'You'(陽) signifies sunshine.' What a lively moniker.

Tobio Kageyama (影山 飛雄, Kageyama Tobio)

Kageyama Tobio 

Let's take a look at Tobio, a super-talented volleyball player with a conceited and egotistical attitude. 'Kage'(影) means shadow, 'Yama'(山) means mountain, 'Tobi'(飛) means to fly, and 'O'(雄) indicates male and is a typical boy's name ending.

Daichi Sawamura (澤村 大地, Sawamura Daichi)

Daichi Sawamura 

Daichi is the Karasuno high school volleyball team's captain. Swamp is referred to as 'Sawa'(澤)and the village is referred to as 'Mura'(村). When you look at the two kanji individually, 'Dai'(大) means big and 'Chi'(地) indicates ground, hence his name 'Daichi'(大地) signifies earth.

Keishin Ukai (烏養 繋心, Ukai Keishin)

Ukai Keishin 

Ukai is a former member of the Karasuno volleyball team and is now the head coach. 'U'(鳥) stands for a bird, 'Kai'(養) for feed, 'Kei'(繋) for connect, and 'Shin'(心) for the heart.

Koushi Sugawara (菅原 孝支 Sugawara Koushi)

Sugawara Koushi 

This one, like Daichi’s name, is a little more obtuse. The last name at least. 菅原 (Sugawara) breaks down to mean “sedge field.” Sedge is apparently a plant that grows in wet areas. Like…. swamps!?? But his first name 孝支 (Koushi) is once again a completely made up name. 孝 (kou) is the character for filial devotion/piety/respect, whereas 支 (shi) means to support.

Azumane Asahi (旭 東峰 Asahi Azumane)

Asahi Azumane 

Asahi Azumane is a third-year student at Karasuno High. He was one of the boys' volleyball club's wing spikers and its ace. Asahi (旭) stands for "morning sun" and Azumane (東峰) stands for "east peak". His name means sun rising from its east peak as in rising of the ace.

Yū Nishinoya ( 西谷 夕 Nishinoya Yū)

Yū Nishinoya

Yū Nishinoya was a second-year student at Karasuno High School. He served as the libero for the school's volleyball team and was referred to by his teammates as "Karasuno's Guardian Deity" for his remarkable skills. Noya’s kanji are 西谷 (nishinoya) which lit translates to… 西 (west) 谷 (valley). Plus then we throw in his given name of 夕 (Yuu) means “evening.” They are ABSOLUTE OPPOSITES.

Ryuunosuke Tanaka (田中 龍之介 Tanaka Ryuunosuke)

Ryūnosuke Tanaka

Ryūnosuke Tanaka for the majority of the series is a second-year student at Karasuno High. He is part of the boy's volleyball club and plays as a starting wing spiker. Tanaka was known as the team's up-and-coming ace. Comparatively, Tanaka gets a pretty boring name. His last name 田中 (Tanaka) (middle of the rice field) is one of the most common last names in Japan, so maybe the purpose was to try to make him an everyman, in a sense. Although he does have 龍 (Ryuu), or “dragon,” in his first name, which feeds the character, he also has 之介 (nosuke) at the end, which is another common suffix for boys and sounds very traditional.

Kei Tsukishima (月島 蛍 Tsukishima Kei)

Kei Tsukishima

Kei Tsukishima is a first year at Karasuno High. He plays as one of the starting middle blockers on the boy's volleyball team. Tsukishima’s name is actually quite interesting. Everyone already knows about how he has 月 (Tsuki) “moon” in his last name, naturally, making him Hinata’s opposite. 島 (Shima), just to be thorough, means “island.” Meanwhile, what is interesting about his name is that his first name, 蛍 (Kei), is the character for fireflies. And that suits his personality to "lights on, lights off".

Tadashi Yamaguchi (山口 忠 Yamaguchi Tadashi)

Tadashi Yamaguchi is a first-year student at Karasuno High. He plays on the boy's volleyball team as a middle blocker and pinch server. During his third year, he became the team captain. Yamaguchi also has a super common last name: 山口 (Yamaguchi) literally means the entrance to the mountain. More importantly, his first name, 忠 (Tadashi), is a character for loyalty and devotion.

Kiyoko Shimizu (清水 潔子Shimizu Kiyoko)

Kiyoko Shimizu is a third-year student at Karasuno High. She is one of the managers for the Karasuno boys' volleyball team for the majority of the series. 清水 (Shimizu) is an interesting last name because there’s a temple in Kyoto by the name of 清水寺, though it’s pronounced Kiyomizudera. What probably isn’t surprising is that 清 (shi) means “purity,” and 水 (Mizu) means water. Her given name completely echoes the intent of her last name, with 潔 (Kiyo) meaning “undefiled/pure/clean”, and 子 (ko) meaning “girl/child.” “ko” is also an incredibly traditional sounding piece of girls’ names.

Hitoka Yachi (谷地 仁花 Yachi Hitoka)

Hitoka Yachi is a first-year student at Karasuno High. She joined the boy's volleyball club partway through the year as the second manager. 谷地 (yachi) are both kanji that have come up in other names; Daichi’s and Noya’s, actually. Once again, 谷 (ya) is a valley, and 地 (chi) is earth. Meanwhile, 仁 (hito) means “benevolence/humanity/virtue”, while 花 (ka) means “flower”.

Chikara Ennoshita (縁下力 Ennoshita Chikara)

Chikara Ennoshita is a second-year student at Karasuno High. He played as a substitute wing spiker on the boy's volleyball team. In his third year, he became the team captain. His name comes from the expression “en no shita no chikara mochi” (縁の下の力持ち) which refers to a person who does a thankless task or who works without expecting credit.

Kazuhito Narita (成田 一仁 Narita Kazuhito)

Kazuhito Narita is a second-year student at Karasuno High. He plays on the boy's volleyball club as a middle blocker. Kazuhito (一仁)means "peace or harmony" and Narita (成田) means "Become Rice Paddy (成 meaning “Become,” and 田 meaning “rice paddy”.

Hisashi Kinoshita (木下 久志  Kinoshita Hisashi)

Hisashi Kinoshita is a second-year student at Karasuno High. He plays as one of the boys' volleyball team's substitute wing spikers and pinch servers. Kinoshita (木下) means "Under the tree" (久志) and Hisashi means "always". The name collectively means someone who is always providing someone shed as a tree.

Ittetsu Takeda (武田 一鉄 Takeda Ittetsu)

Ittetsu Takeda is the faculty advisor and head coach of the Karasuno High boys' volleyball club, though the practical coaching is performed by Keishin Ukai. Ittetsu (一鉄) meaning "One Iron" and  Takeda (武田) meaning "Brave Rice Field". His name has an inspiring meaning as we can see the kanjis are somewhat related to warrior or being brave.

Thanks For Reading!!