Ame: 2 Different Meanings of the Japanese Word
When we Japanese hear Ame or あめ in the Hiragana alphabet, what comes to our mind is usually 飴 or 雨 in the Kanji character, depending on the intonation and context.
飴 (Ame), seen in the snack aisle of grocery stores, and 雨 (Ame), a godsend, both have the same reading but differ in intonation, by which and context, we can figure out which it stands for.
Meaning of Ame in Japanese
This article explains what 飴 (Ame) and 雨 (Ame) mean and where these words come from for people not learning the Japanese language.
First, let’s look at what 飴 is.
The origin can be traced back to the Nihon Shoki chronicles compiled in 720, and in the Heian period (平安時代: 794-1185), the Mizuame (水飴) starch syrup was available as a seasoning.
飴 (Ame) comes from the Japanese adjective meaning sweet, 甘い (Amai), and in modern times, it means candy, often referring to hard candies made with sugar and starch syrup.
You can see various flavors of Ame treats in the snack section of supermarkets in Japan, including Shio Ame (塩飴: salt candy), Kuro Ame (黒飴: black candy), and Nikki Ame (ニッキ飴: Japanese cinnamon candy).
On the other hand, the meaning of 雨 (Ame) in Japanese is rain. There are various theories on the origin, but many believe that it is derived from the word 天 (Ame), usually read as Ten, meaning heaven or sky.