Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Watashi no Haha

Watashi no haha (私のはは) means: My mother.  In Japanese there are very many different ways to say mother, depending on who you are and what relationship you have with the woman who is someone's mother (possibly yours).

Here's all the possibilities:  

If you are talking to your mother,  or are talking about another person's mother it is Okaasan (the O is always honorific) おかあさん which also looks like this in Kanji: お母さん.

I love this kanji because the "kaa" kanji looks like a kite to me, and that is a wonderful image for a mother.

If you are talking about your mother to another person, you would call her はは (ha ha).  Instead of using an honorific, you want to talk about your own family member in a way that shows that you don't put them up above the person you are speaking to, so they are spoken of using the humblest of terms.

Some people, probably kids (kodomo)  also might call their haha  "mama" (ママ).  

I bring this up because on Monday the 26th,  it was the one year anniversary of watashi no haha no shi (my mother's death).   She lived a long and wonderful life, dying just shy of the age of 88.   

8 is a holy and lucky number in Japanese.  The shape of the kanji for 8 is like this:  八. Looking at this kanji from top to bottom, it shows that it gets wider and more abundant.  This is where the luck is - in the slow but continuous abundance.  I love how, at least traditionally, slow prosperity was honored over quick gains in Japan.  A lifetime of building ones abundance (not just financially, but spiritually as well, which is why 8 is  a holy number too), counted for a lot more than sudden wealth or power.  

Well, even if watashi no haha didn't live long enough to experience a double luck year, her life was pretty lucky anyway.  She traveled the world, including Germany and surrounding countries, Cuba and Africa, had three daughters (musume: むすめ - is the word for daughter.  As there are no plurals in Japanese, the word is the same for one or more daughters), had interesting jobs and was ever questing, both spiritually and intellectually.  

She never made it to Japan or any part of Asia, but if there had been an opportunity back in the day, I'm sure she would have loved to go.  

I learned that there is no "I miss you" in Japanese.  You can say I'm lonely or I want to see you.  Combining both I say to my mother:


Anata ga inakute, samishii kimochi ni narimashita.


  1. Very nice, Julie. I'm finding that your blog posts are interesting even to we non-Japanese speaking reader. I like seeing the Japanese script as well.

    I wonder what the lack of missing in the language is about.

  2. Yes, I don't know. why There is also no word for "love." I mean no "true" word for love, in the way we have it in English. I want to post another blog about this fact, but I will save that for another day.