The question of whether Igbos or other Nigerians are related to the Japanese has been a topic of interest among fans of anime who have noticed similarities between certain names. For instance, the names Chika, Azuka, Sola, and Osamu are found in both countries.
The similarities between the two countries extend to their geographical names as well. Take “Ehime”, for instance, which is both a local government area in Imo State, Nigeria and a prefecture in Japan. Another example is “Edo,” which is the name of a state in Nigeria and the former name of Tokyo in Japan. Beyond geographical names, the two cultures also share the concept of “Chi,” the fundamental life force.
Do these similarities indicate a legitimate historical connection?
In simple terms, the answer is no. The reason for these similarities is likely due to the way vowels and consonants are combined in human language, which sometimes leads to similar sounding names in different cultures. For example, the name “Lee” can be found in both Chinese and English, and “Araki” can be found in both Japanese and Persian. The same goes for “Diri,” which is a surname in both Igbo and Turkish, and “Yuri,” which is a name in both Japanese and Russian. It’s important to keep in mind that just because names may sound alike, it does not mean there are any important connections between the people of these countries.
The concept of Chi, which is similar in meaning and name, actually originated in China, not Japan. This concept is also not limited to the Far East. Other cultures have their own names for this “life force” or “energy force” too. For example, in Indian philosophy it’s called “prana” and in Navajo American society it’s known as “nilchi’i.”
In conclusion, there is no credible connection between Nigerian ethnic groups and the Japanese. Although, as mentioned above there are a few similarities but these are likely the result of coincidences.
To learn more about Igbo culture check out our culture page.
This is part of a series: Answering commonly asked questions about the Igbo culture language and people. Click the link to find more answers to commonly asked questions.