|Kanji in this term|
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Unknown. The kanji spelling appears to be ateji, which would normally be read as tsukimizato (“moon-view village”).
One possible derivation suggests that this comes from an old alternate name for the village of Yamanashi in Shizuoka Prefecture (spelled 山梨; annexed into the city of Fukuroi in 1963), such that the old spelling was used for the new name. However, this explanation is probably apocryphal.
An alternative explanation is that the spelling is an old pun. The area around Yamanashi village is relatively flat, and the story goes that the reading yama nashi originally meant 山 (yama, “mountains”) + 無し (nashi, “without, lacking, none”). The spelling 月見里 apparently was in reference to the unobstructed view of the moon. There is also a line from the epitaph of early Heian-period noh playwright Tachibana no Hayanari that uses this spelling and reading, and the sense of “unobstructed view of the moon”:
- miyako o ba / ima wa haruka ni / tōtōmi // tsuki no kuma naki / yamanashi no sato
- Leaving the city now far behind; the distant shallows // Yamanashi village, with nothing to shade the moon