Usagi No Yuki: What’s in a name?

As you know, I’m working on a game titled Happy Usagi No Yuki Fortress. The other day a colleague remarked that this sounds a lot like Usagi Yojimbo, also of  Commodore 64 fame:

Well that makes a lot of sense! Usagi is simply the Japanese word for rabbit. Yuki means snow, and No is a possessive marker. As a Gaijin, I couldn’t tell you if that translates to “happy snow-rabbit fortress, or “happy rabbit of the snow-fortress”. I guess  we’ll find that out after we conquered the Japanese market (yeah, right). But in the mean time, I hope the name conveys fun, cuteness and also a bit of silliness.

Why the Japanese angle, you ask? Apart from us being a big fan of all things Japanese (from Nintendo to Kawaii bento boxes), there is also serendipity. We created the game during a competition – one of the random requirements of this competition was to include bits of Unicode, i.e. non-English text. Like so: 幸せなウサギの雪要塞. Easiest requirement ever.

2 Replies to “Usagi No Yuki: What’s in a name?”

  1. Hi there. Great post. I’ve studied Japanese for three years so far, so maybe I can offer some insight into the Japanese you’re using.

    The word 「幸せ」 (「しあわせ」) is more akin to “happiness” than “happy”. The more common and perhaps better suited word to use would be 「嬉しい」 (「うれしい」).

    The words 「ウサギ」 and 「要塞」 (「ようさい」) are correct for “rabbit” and “fortress” respectively (the latter actually being “fort”, but bending it to mean “fortress” isn’t a problem).

    You’re right about 「の」 being used to show possession. It is also used to link nouns, which can sometimes lead to multiple interpretations when translated into English. So whereas in English you can say “snow” and “fortress” to make a combined “snow fortress”, in Japanese you need to link them with 「の」 again (so 「雪要塞」 becomes 「雪の要塞」).

    Here’s what I’d suggest:

    ureshii usagi no yuki no yousai

    The quirk of Japanese’s possessive particle is that the above could be interpreted in several different ways. The main few being:

    – Happy Rabbit Snow Fortress
    – Happy Rabbit’s Snow Fortress
    – Happy Rabbit of the Snow Fortress

    But because of how Japanese handles plurals, it could also be:

    – Happy Rabbits’ Snow Fortress
    – Happy Rabbit Snow Fortresses
    – Happy Rabbits’ Snow Fortresses
    – Happy Rabbits of the Snow Fortress
    – Happy Rabbits of the Snow Fortresses
    – (Or any combination of the above)

    As you can see, there’s a lot of translations to choose from. You don’t have to use any of these; you could stick with what you have already (“gaijin” wouldn’t know the difference). But either way, I hope this clears up at least some ambiguity.

  2. Very cool, thanks for the info Eric. I’ll include your suggestion for the Japanese writing in the next update. Without changing the game title of course. The title will remain as “Happy Usagi No Yuki Fortress”, a silly blend of English and Japanese.

Comments are closed.