Bankai, Bansai, Bonsai : Oriental Homonyms

Words are funny. Some of them are spelt the same but mean different things. Others are spelt differently, yet can sound the same or have the same meaning.Homonyms are groups of words that are pronounced that same but may vary in spelling and have different meanings. In the English language there are plenty of these kinds of words.

Bankai                                                                                                                                     For Example:

Threw & through ,

Bow of a violin & to bow down,

To lead & the metal lead,

Also to, too and two


I’m going to pick 3 Oriental  words that are sort of like homonyms. They all do sound similar but their meanings vary. And the nominees are: Bankai, Bansai & Bonsai !

Well to be frank, Bankai isn’t even a real word for starters. It’s a Japanese term used in the famous manga/anime ‘Bleach’. This is one of the many anime shows on my favorite anime list; simply a pure classic and was one of the  shows that got me into watching anime, in the first place. After Pokemon at least.

Gin and Matsumoto

Gin and Matsumoto

Kurosaki Ichigo

Kurosaki Ichigo












In the show, it’s a word that the ‘Shinigamis’ (literally death gods) shout at the top of their lungs to summon their ‘second release’. Basically it makes them evolve into a more powerful state and they can choose to revert back anytime they wish. It’s almost like a battle cry.

Bansai, on the other hand is in fact a real Japanese word. It is most known for being a battle cry during war and other forms of kamikaze assault . But it’s real meaning, literally is 10,000 years which was in turn an expression used for “Long live!” or “Hurrah!”. Pretty much morphed into their version of “Yah-hoo!” as it shifted to having a more celebratory meaning.



Last but definitely not the least, we have Bonsai. Literal meaning: ‘tree in a tray’ . But Bonsai is so much more than just growing miniature trees in even smaller trays. It’s essentially an art form that keeps living and morphing.  The trees symbolize harmony, honor, patience and happiness. They are the perfect household addition to induce  a more relaxing environment. Below is a picture of my first attempt at Bonsai. It’s a cascading Juniper and  I chose to name it “Rex”. Why? Because I can. It still has a long way to go and grow.

My Juniper Bonsai

My Juniper Bonsai ‘Rex’

All things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. Getting rid of the old, also means making some room for the new to take it’s rightful place in life. This holds true even for Bonsai. One has to constantly trim the leaves, prune the trunk and use a myriad of techniques to guide the growing shrub into the utmost forms of it’s own  artistic expression and perfection. This is in my opinion the true essence of Bonsai.      


  1. You caught my attention with the word “spelt.” I suspect British residency or roots. A Canadian manager insisted to my wife that there was no such word. “Spelled” must be used. 😕

    1. A very keen observation I might add. I’ve always had a preference for the British standard. It just seems far too authentic and rich to replace with a dumbed down version 🙂 Thank you for reading !

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