As far as Bleach characters go, Ichigo Kurosaki is, of course, the most important character as he is the protagonist of the story. Initially a yanki-type of character, Ichigo evolves gradually throughout the series to become a truly noble character with a lot of depth. As his story evolves, his powers and abilities evolve as well, and by the time the story ends, Ichigo will have gone through several phases and transformations, with each of them giving him more powers. But there’s more to Ichigo than just his powers. Namely, Ichigo is a very rare name in Japan, which is why people around the world keep wondering what it actually means. In this article, we are going to reveal the meaning behind Ichigo’s name.
Ichigo himself has stated that his name (written as 一護 in Kanji) means “first prize guardian angel”, seeing how the first Kanji means “first (prize)”, and the second refers to a “guardian angel”; his father elaborated that it actually meant “he who protects.” If written with the Kanji 苺, it actually means “strawberry”, which was a source of a few laughs in the story, and if written as 一五, it literally means “one-five.”
The rest of this article is going to focus, as you’ve probably deduced for yourselves, on Ichigo’s name, as it is a very hot topic for Bleach fans. We are going to reveal all the possible meanings of Ichigo’s name, as well as some additional details from the story that are related to each of these interpretations. As you’ve seen, there are four possible explanations of the word “Ichigo”, and we are going to explain each of them to you in detail.
The meaning of Ichigo’s name explained
Ichigo Kurosaki is a fictional character and the protagonist of the manga Bleach, as well as the anime adaptation of the same name. He is one of the best-known and most popular manga and anime characters in the world. He was created by Tite Kubo and is a 17-year-old high-school student who can see ghosts.
Now, this was a brief introduction to Ichigo’s character. Sure, there’s a lot more we could tell about him, especially his adventures and his powers, but we are now going to explain something much more simple than Kubo’s narrative, and that is Ichigo’s name. Ichigo is not a very common name in Japan, as Japanese people will tell you, so people often wonder what it actually means, especially because the word “ichigo” has several different meanings in the Japanese language. The meaning, of course, depends on the kanji you use to write and in this article, we are going to go over all the possible meanings.
Ichigo Kurosaki’s name is officially written as 一護 in Kanji. The 一 Kanji is a fairly known one and an easy one to interpret, as it means “one” or “first”, depending on how it is used. The kanji 護, on the other hand, means to “safeguard” or to “protect”, although it can also be used as a suffix (-go) in various male names. Based on this, Ichigo himself has stated that the first part of his name, “ichi” (一), means “first prize”, whereas the other, “go” (護 ), means “guardian angel”. This is a more metaphorical interpretation, as the literal meaning of the name would be “first guardian”, which is why his father, Isshin, corrected him by saying that his name actually meant “he who protects.” And this is the main and primary meaning of Ichigo’s name.
But, there are more meanings and if you don’t actually know how the name is written in Kanji, it is impossible to tell the exact meaning without reading the name first. So, if Ichigo’s name had been written as 苺, it would mean “strawberry”. The Kanji 苺 means “strawberry” and is read “ichigo”, just like our protagonist’s name. This is why Jidanbō Ikkanzaka comments that Ichigo has a cute name, whereas Mashiro Kuna gives Ichigo the nickname “Berry-tan”. Other characters also called him “Strawberry” on more than one occasion, and the manga itself has, via various chapter and volume titles, made reference to this meaning more than once.
Finally, there is another interpretation of the phrase “ichigo”, where it would mean “one-five” (not fifteen, as that would be written as 十五, and be pronounced as “Jūgo”), and would be written as this: 一五. The kanji 一, of course, means “one” and is read “ichi”, whereas the Kanji 五 is read as “go” and means “five”. This is referenced by the number 15 on Ichigo’s room, as well as in a scene during the Fullbringer arc, where Kūgo Ginjō comments how Ichigo is proud of his name, which Ichigo vehemently denies, but Ginjō tells him not to lie because he has seen him wearing a shirt with the number 15 on it.
Japanese speakers will, of course, know that the Kanji 一 could be used with a variety of other Kanji symbols that are read as “go”, and that 護 and 五 are not the only ones. But, analyzing all of these alternatives would take too much time, and would also be wrong, as Kubo never made any additional references to Ichigo’s name aside from the ones we have explained above. This means that he, as the author, never intended to expand on the meaning of the name “Ichigo” aside from the meanings “he who protects,” “strawberry,” and “one-five.”