Singing Samurai

New Member
Hello all,

First post here, apologies if I am posting in the wrong forum or not following appropriate etiquette. I am an opera singer by trade and I am currently writing a book on vocal pedagogy. The topic is how aikido relates to singing and to teaching. My question is about the word buki. Apologies, I don't have the kanji. We reference our bokken, jo, tanto, and bokuto as buki. The way we treat our buki is more like tools for study rather than weapons. Initially, and likely incorrectly, I thought buki meant tools based on how we approached them. After looking it up some 18 years later (yeah, I never asked the question before) I came to realize buki means weapon.

However, in loving the etymology of words as a singer, I wondered if buki had any root in the word for tool. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!
  • SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member

    Buki is written as 武(bu) 器(ki) in kanji, in two letters.
    And each kanji letter has its meaning.

    武 (bu) means "fight," "war potential," "military potential."
    器 (ki) means "tool," "instrument."
    Therefore, 武器 means "tool for fight or war," which is called "weapon." Such as "gun," "sword," or "canon."

    士 (shi) means "person" or "human."
    Therefore, 武 士 (bu-shi) means "warrior" or "samurai." :)

    力 (ryoku) means "power."
    Therefore, 武 力 (bu-ryoku) means "military power."

    食器 (syokki) means "eating utensiles." Such as "dish" and "rice bowl."
    食 (syoku) means "eat."
    器 (ki) means "tool."

    楽器 (gakki) means "musical instrument." Such as "guitar" and "piano."
    楽 (gaku) means "amusement," "fun."
    器 (ki) means "instrument."

    Is it clear?
    Hope this helps!
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    Singing Samurai

    New Member
    This was extremely helpful! Thank you. A quick follow up question, when it comes to (bu) and “potential,” why would you translate it that way? I don’t want to make a claim that buki means weapon potential tool without solid reason. If potential is the best way to understand it, it would help the argument I am creating. If it’s more secondary or preference in your explanation, could you lend reasons why?

    Thank you again for your help!!


    Senior Member
    Oh, I got your point.
    Probably the translation containing "potential" was poor or incorrect.

    You may ignore the "potential." I added it because an online dictionary said so.
    "Bu" means something related to "war" or "fight," but it cannot be a word itself. It's a kind of "root."

    For example, "cent" in "centimeter" and "century" means 100, but the word "cent" itself is usually used as a unit of money in the US.
    So the dictionary says "cent" means "100 potential" or "100, potentially."

    "Ki" 器 too cannot be a word itself, (but "utsuwa" 器 can be a word itself.)
    They are the same kanji, but the pronunciations are different.

    If I stick to "the uniform explanation" when I explained, I should have written: 器 "ki" means "tool potential" or "instrument potential" as well.

    Just ignore it!
    If you explore the every reason why, you will be a fluent Japanese speaker!
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