What does Ma in front of the fish name mean?

A photo of Horse mackerel (Ma-aji)
Ma-aji is the most commonly caught and represented species of Japanese Aji species.

Fish names include scientific names, standard Japanese names, local names, and foreign names.

Scientific names are the scientific names of organisms. They are written in Latin for international uniformity. They are also listed in fish-illustrated books. Standard Japanese names are defined by the Ichthyological Society of Japan. Local names are various names given to one species in different regions. In addition, when looking at English and French names, they do not correspond to species as in the Japanese standard Japanese name, and it is not uncommon for different species to have the same English name, or for multiple species to be called by the same English name. It is rare in the world that each fish species has its standard Japanese name, as is the case in Japan.

In addition to standard Japanese names and regional names, fish names unique to the Japanese language are sometimes used. For example, you have probably heard of the fish named Aji (鯵). Then is Ma-aji (真鯵) a different fish?

Actually, they are the same fish. The “Ma” in the name of a fish or shellfish indicates that it is the most representative, the most superior, or the most valuable among the many related species. The Chinese character “真” means “genuine.

For example, a total of 146 species of horse mackerels have been identified, including Japanese scad (Maru-aji), Bigeye scad (Me-aji), White trevally (Shima-aji), Amberstripe scad (Muro-aji), Red Scad (Aka-aji), Roughear scad (Oakamuro-aji), Great trevally (Gingame-aji), and Torpedo scad (Oni-aji). Ma-aji is the most commonly caught and represented species of Japanese Aji species.

There are other fish names beginning with Ma, which are briefly introduced below.

Ma-iwashi (真鰯) is a representative of sardines (Katakuchi-iwashi, Urume-iwashi, etc.).

・Kaki refers to Ma-gaki (真牡蠣). Ma-gaki is in season during the cold season and is mostly farm-raised, but there is a type of Kaki that is in season during the summer. It is called Iwa-gaki (岩牡蠣) and is characterized by its larger shells and meat compared to Ma-gaki.

・Anago with high market value are Ma-anago (真穴子), Goten-anago (御殿穴子), and Kuro-anago (黒穴子), but it is safe to assume that most Anago used in sushi restaurants are Ma-anago.

Other Ma (真) include Ma-dai (真鯛), Ma-dako (真蛸), Ma-dara (真鱈), and Ma-hata (真羽太).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.