Small Talk

Ako doll

February 21st, 2014

In Shirokiya, my daughter noticed some kokeshi dolls for sale. We looked at them and picked our our favorites. We generally like pink, but she pointed out a doll with silver hair and a light blue kimono. Upon closer look, its name is Ako!

Ako doll

I looked at the box, and it said the doll is meant to encourage true love and lasting friendships. I don't like to collect stuff that will sit around on a shelf and take up space, but I'm a sucker for a good narrative, so I bought it.

Ako translates to "charming," according to the sticker on this kimmidoll brand. Curious, I looked it up later online. Apparently, it's a Japanese nickname to mean "cute." I did not know this, but I like it.

However, there was another website saying Ako is an Egyptian boy's name and it means "tired, weary." Oh, my. That is a name I do not want to live up to - yet it's true more often than I like!

What's in your name?

2 Responses to “Ako doll”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    I believe that Hawaii names like Ako, Akaka, Akana, Akina, etc. are all indicators of Chinese ancestry, being contractions of the Chinese name-part "Ah" often found as the middle portion of a three-part name. It might be interesting for you to trace how your name came to be "Ako." The "Ko" part might refer to sugar cane, which is its Hawaiian language meaning.

    Over the years I've noticed that most people with Hawaiian native ancestry also have Chinese ancestry -- this is probably due to the fact that Chinese men who came to work on sugar plantations came as individuals, by contrast to Japanese men who came as organized labor groups recruited in Japan by Japanese corporations with the help of the Japanese government. Large numbers of Chinese laborers came to Hawaii many years before organized groups of Japanese laborers started coming; so Chinese became part of the Hawaiian gene pool earlier than Japanese.

    The Japanese were required by their government to set aside a non-refundable portion of their wages toward payment for their return ticket to Japan at the end of their three-year labor contract, while Chinese men had no such requirement and therefore felt more free to stay permanently in Hawaii. Japanese men were strongly inclined to go back to Japan because of strong family relationships and government sponsorship, so if they got the "urge to merge" they would ask family at home to find a picture bride for them; but Chinese men often were escaping from poverty and unhappy family situations, so they were more inclined to stay here permanently and they looked for Hawaiian native women. I have heard (but have not verified) that during one period of time there was a law that no Asian could own property unless he either became naturalized as a subject of the Kingdom or else got married to a Hawaiian native. Thus there were over a thousand Chinese who took the loyalty oath and became naturalized as Hawaiian Kingdom subjects, while many thousands more kept their Chinese nationality but got married to a native partly for the purpose of acquiring property and building wealth.

  2. Diane Ako:

    Ken- You're absolutely right! But not a surprise; I know you're very intelligent and well-read on Hawaiian history matters. Yes, I'm Chinese/ Hawaiian. But it was still fun to see Ako as a Japanese name- presented here with a nice message!

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