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purple; violet; imperial; palace
positive (electric.); sun; male
flower; blossom; to spend; fancy pattern
trad. (紫陽花)
simp. (紫阳花)




  1. Hydrangea macrophylla


Etymology 1Edit

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紫陽花 (ajisai): a hydrangea bush in bloom, showing a characteristic variation in color.
Kanji in this term
Grade: S Grade: 3 Grade: 1


From Old Japanese. Recorded in the Man'yōshū of c. 759 CE with the phonetic man'yōgana spellings 味狭藍 (adisawi)[1] and 安治佐為 (adisawi), [2], and in the Wamyō Ruijushō dictionary of 938 CE with the phonetic spelling 阿豆佐為 (adusawi, atusawi).

Ultimate derivation unknown. Some sources[3] suggest that this comes from (adi sa-awi, literally gathering + pure indigo). However, this is problematic phonetically, as there is no evidence for any classical or ancient verb (adu, modern azu) that would conjugate to adi (modern aji). The closest with this meaning would be (atsu), stem of the adjective 厚い (atsui, thick; packed together) and root of the classical verb 集む (atsumu, to gather together), modern 集める (atsumeru, transitive) and 集まる (atsumaru, intransitive), and this atu (modern atsu) never showed signs of voicing to adu (modern azu), let alone shifting the final vowel from -u to -i. This theory is also problematic semantically, as the hydrangea's color range never includes colors as dark as pure indigo.

Alternatively, the initial adi may be from (ancient adi, modern aji, literally flavor), also used as an adjective referring to something good, preferable, or favorable. The sawi may be from -s- as an ancient possessive infix (see also 春雨 (harusame, spring rain), 真っ青 (massao, pure blue, really blue), 荒稲 (arashine, unhulled rice)) and awi from (ancient awi, modern ai, indigo”, also used in some contexts to simply mean “blue).

The spelling is borrowed from Chinese 紫陽花, literally meaning “purple sun flower”, and is an example of jukujikun (熟字訓).



紫陽花 (hiragana あじさい, katakana アジサイ, rōmaji ajisai, historical hiragana あぢさゐ, historical katakana アヂサヰ)

  1. hydrangea, especially the bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Usage notesEdit

As with many terms that name organisms, this term is often spelled in katakana, especially in biological contexts, as アジサイ.

Derived termsEdit

Proper nounEdit

紫陽花 (hiragana あじさい, rōmaji Ajisai)

  1. A female given name

Etymology 2Edit

Kanji in this term

Grade: S
Grade: 3

Grade: 1


The reading based on the 音読み (on'yomi) of the kanji spelling, itself borrowed from Chinese 紫陽花.



紫陽花 (hiragana しようか, katakana シヨウカ, rōmaji shiyōka, historical hiragana しやうくわ, historical katakana シヤウクワ)

  1. hydrangea

Etymology 3Edit

Other various nanori readings.

Proper nounEdit

紫陽花 (hiragana しょうこ, rōmaji Shōko)

  1. A female given name

紫陽花 (hiragana しよか, rōmaji Shiyoka)

  1. A female given name

紫陽花 (hiragana はるか, rōmaji Haruka)

  1. A female given name


  1. ^ c. 759, Man'yōshū (book 4, poem 773), text here
  2. ^ c. 759, Man'yōshū (book 20, poem 4448), text here
  3. ^ Taketomi Yamamoto, 1981, アジサイの話 (Ajisai no Hanashi, “The Story of the Hydrangea”, in Japanese), Tōkyō, Yasaka Shobō, →ISBN
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN

Further readingEdit