Did you know why so many Japanese transport ships had “maru” in their name during World War II?

The passenger and cargo ship Tsushima Maru, famously sunk by a U.S. submarine in 1944 while evacuating schoolchildren from Okinawa
(Photo: Toyo Keizai)
Actually, nobody knows for sure, but if you’re a World War II naval history buff, you must have encountered numerous Japanese ship names ending in “maru,” and in fact it’s still often added to the names of Japanese commercial or private ships today. The practice actually long predates World War II, with the first known such vessel being the Nippon Maru, the flagship of a 16th century Japanese feudal lord.
The amphibious assault ship Shinshū Maru, sunk by friendly torpedo fire in 1942, raised, returned to service, then sunk for good in early 1945
(Photo: Imperial Japanese Army)
We don’t quite know the origins of this tradition, but there are several theories. One traces it back to Hakudo Maru, a figure in Japanese mythology who taught humans the skill of ship building, and the suffix is supposedly used to incur his favor. Other interpretations revolve around the fact that “maru” is the Japanese word for a circle. Traditional Japanese divination uses the circle to represent completeness and perfection, and a ship is supposed to be a “complete world of its own,” hence the tradition. Another explanation associates the circle with the defensive circles of a castle, and how ships were considered to be floating castles. Yet another claim equates the complete, unbroken circle with the concept of a successful round voyage, at the end of which the ship returns safely to harbor. A vaguer interpretation notes that “-maru” is often added to the name of something beloved, and sailors would naturally love their ship. We’ll probably never know for sure, but one thing is certain: the practice was and is so common that even the Star Trek franchise paid homage to it with the fictional spaceship Kobayashi Maru.
The spaceship Kobayashi Maru in Star Trek
(Photo: Star Trek Online Wiki)

Save $500 per person!

Victory in Europe Day promotion

Winston Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall in London as they celebrate V-E Day, May 8, 1945.
(Photo: Imperial War Museum)

On May 8, we will celebrate the 78th anniversary of V-E Day, standing for Victory in Europe Day, the date of the formal surrender of the German armed forces in World War II on May 8, 1945. On this occasion, you will get a discount of $500 on all our tours if you book and pay in full until May 8, 2023. In addition to the discount, this promotion includes also our available 80th anniversary D-Day tours in 2024. According to statistics, seats for the main D-Day anniversaries get sold out approximately a year before the event. So book your tour as soon as possible because the most popular ones will get fully booked very soon. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, feel free to contact our travel consultants.

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