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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogJapanese Pokemon Names That Might Surprise You!

Japanese Pokemon Names That Might Surprise You!

By Bianca Bache
October 14, 2023
Pokemon Cards

Pokemon has captivated the hearts and minds of people across the globe for over two decades. While the franchise is adored by fans worldwide, the names of these delightful creatures often undergo significant transformations when crossing cultural boundaries.

Join us as we dive into the fascinating world of Japanese Pokemon names! Discovering the captivatingly cute and delightful references that may surprise even the most dedicated fans!

Pokémon. Pikachu Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle
The original trio, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Image via Shutterstock

Bulbasaur (Fushigidane)

Let’s begin our exploration with one of the original 151 Pokemon, Bulbasaur. In English, this charming creature is known as Bulbasaur, a combination of “bulb” and “dinosaur.” However, in its land of origin, Japan affectionately calls it “Fushigidane.” This name holds a quirky surprise – “Fushigidane” literally translates to “strange, isn’t it?” 

It’s a playful nod to the peculiar appearance of Bulbasaur with a plant bulb on its back. This adorable Pokemon nickname brings the essence of the Pokemon and invites a chuckle. Showing the whimsy of the Japanese name creators!

Pokemon anime Bulbasaur . Cartoon characters on a white background
Bulbasaur is a Grass & Poison-type Pokémon. Image via Shutterstock

Jigglypuff (Purin)

Jigglypuff, the iconic pink kawaii puffball with a love for putting others to sleep with its melody-like songs, is known as “Purin” in Japan. This name, “Purin,” carries a delightful reference to the famous custard pudding, yum! The resemblance between Jigglypuff’s round, soft appearance and the wobbly texture of a custard pudding is uncanny. In Jigglypuffs case, the Japanese naming offers a mouthwatering but cute connection between the Pokemon’s appearance and a beloved dessert, creating a bond that adds depth and character to the name!

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Jigglypuff figure in front of Pikachu and Bulbasaur figure sleeping on a bed, concept for the upcoming Pokémon app Pokémon sleep
Jigglypuff is a Normal/Fairy type Pokémon that is known for her adorable round shape. Image via Shutterstock

Psyduck (Kodakku)

Psyduck, the headache-stricken water-type Pokemon, has a name that’s as endearing in Japanese as it is in English. Known as “Kodakku” in Japan, this name is a charmingly straightforward reference to the creature’s nature.

“Kodakku” is derived from “koda,” meaning “little,” and “kamo,” meaning “duck.”. Therefore, “Kodakku” essentially means “little duck.” This straightforward yet playful naming strategy ensures that Japanese fans are well aware of Psyduck’s essential characteristic: that it’s a duck!

"Pokemon GO" shows a Pokemon encounter  of Psyduck overlain on a lake shore in the real world.
Psyduck is a Water type Pokémon with chronic headaches that makes them may exhibit odd powers. Image via Shutterstock

Dratini (Miniryu)

Dratini, the snake-like dragon Pokemon that evolves into Dragonair and Dragonite, boasts a name that captures its appearance and dragonesque qualities in Japanese.

In Japan, they call Dratini “Miniryu,” a name that combines “miniature” (mini) and “dragon” (ryu). This combination of names is used to emphasize the Pokemon’s small, dragon-like form. It perfectly describes the character with a clever fusion of elements in Japanese Pokemon names. Making simplicity still super cute and meaningful !

Ditto (Metamon)

Ditto, the master of transformation, is a Pokemon with a name that hints at its remarkable abilities. In Japanese, Ditto is called “Metamon.” This name is a clever combination of two words, “metamorphic” and “Pokemon”! Signifying Ditto’s unique talent for taking on the form of any Pokemon it encounters. While this naming mix-and-match may not be immediately obvious to English speakers, it shows the thoughtfulness and creativity behind Japanese Pokemon names. Which often incorporates wordplay and creative blends to show unique and amazing characteristics and abilities.

 woman playing pokemon go on his iphone. pokemon go multiplayer game with elements of augmented reality. Catching the Ditto pokemon.
Ditto is a Normal-type Pokémon with unique unique set of abilities. Image via Shutterstock

Recent Trends in Japanese Pokemon Naming

While the examples above shed light on some enduring facets of Japanese Pokemon names, it’s essential to recognize that naming trends evolve with the franchise’s progress. Here are a few interesting developments in recent years:

Regional Influences:

In the latest generations of Pokemon games, there has been an increasing focus on incorporating regional influences into Pokemon names. The Galar region, featured in Pokemon Sword and Shield, is the perfect example. Pokemon native to Galar have names that often draw inspiration from British culture and geography, adding a layer of depth to the world-building.

The Alola region (featured in Pokemon Sun and Moon) provides another example of this. Many Pokemon names combined Hawaiian language elements, enhancing the cultural importance and making the Pokemon world feel more connected to that culture.

Creative Wordplay:

Japanese Pokemon names continue to feature wordplay and clever combinations of characters. This type of creativity adds layers of meaning, charm, and extra cuteness to the names. While some names may appear straightforward at first, closer examination often reveals delightful subtleties.

Miniryu Pokemon with a poke ball
Dratini is an adorable Dragon type Pokémon. Image via Shutterstock

The world of Pokemon is not only a captivating realm filled with a range of creatures, but it’s also a mixed-match wordplay playground where names often carry layers of meaning and subtle references. As we’ve explored, Japanese Pokemon names offer unique insights into the creative process that goes into naming these beloved characters.

Whether it’s a name like “Fushigidane” that playfully hints at the strangeness or “Purin” that draws a delicious connection to a custard pudding, each name tells a story about the Pokemon it represents!

So, the next time you encounter a Pokemon with a name that seems strange or unfamiliar, take a moment to check out the counterpart Japanese name! You may even find your new fun fact to share with other Pokemon lovers.

Which Japanese Pokemon name did you find most surprising? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Bianca Bache

Tokyo based writer that's enthusiastic about all things kawaii and cute!

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