NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

2007/10/17

昴 Subaru Subaru

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Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades, an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus dominated by beautifully shining blue stars. The word “Subaru” is derived from an ancient Japanese word “sumaru,” which meant “to assemble.” It is said that “sumaru” became “subaru,” which meant “to unify” in the later periods. The kanji for Subaru (昴) was borrowed from the Hairy Head mansion (昴宿, pinyin), one of the twenty-eight mansions of the Chinese constellations.

The oldest writing that referred to Subaru in Japan is Wamyoruijusho, a 10th-century dictionary edited according to Chinese categories, compiled by Minamoto no Shitago by the order of Isoko Naishinno (Imperial Princess).

In Section 254 of The Pillow Book written by the famous authoress Sei Shonagon around the early 11th century, the following passage can be seen: “The Pleiades, Altair, Venus, the stars most admirable. If only there were no shooting stars to come visiting us at night.” This is the most famous passage in the Pillow Book for those who are involved in astronomy. Admiration for Subaru remains unchanged by time.

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