The reason why Tanjiro is called “Sumiko” in Yoshiwara

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Why Tanjiro is called Sumiko? Let’s find the answer!

Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke got a girl’s name.

In the comic book Vol.9, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke joined a mission in Yoshiwara (entertainment district) with Tengen Uzui. (By the way, a name “Tengen” sounds cool!!)
They are dressed up like a girl and sneaked into an entertainment house separately to gather information of Tengen’s wives.
Then, they named theirselves as “Sumiko”, “Zenko” and “Inoko”.

Reference source : KOYOHARU GOTOUGE (2019) DEMON SLAYER 9. VIZ Media, LL

As for Zenko and Inoko, it makes sense because the sound is the same as their original name.

But you may wonder why “Sumiko” for Tanjiro.

There is a reason of course, and the reason is so simple!

A kanji character 炭 for Tanjiro’s “TAN” has more sounds

Tanjiro’s name is written as “炭治郎”in Chinese letters (kanji).
As you kimetsu fans probably know, 炭 means charcoal. He is a son of a charcoal maker.

You may think “it’s not SUMI but TAN ! so Tanjiro should be TANKO”.
Yes, you’re right, he could be Tanko, but “Tanko” sounds a little unusual for a Japanese name.

Also the point is, the kanji “炭” can be read “sumi” as well, especially when it is used alone.

When you say “to buy charcoal”, we say “炭を買う(sumi o kau)”. We call 炭 as “sumi” not “tan”.

One more reason for Sumiko is that the name “Sumiko” is very popular for a girl’s name.

Of course the kanji 炭 is not very often used for a girl’s name, usually other kanji are used for the name “sumi”.
須美、純、澄、寿美… etc.

Oiran called Tanjiro “Sumi-chan”

A beautiful oiran Koinatsu called Sumiko “Sumi-chan”. From this, we can see she is a kind person.
We add “chan” after a name when you think it cute and feel it close.

“Sumi-chan, why are you dressing that way..?”
Reference source : 五峠呼世晴 (2017) 鬼滅の刃9 集英社

When you feel something / someone cute, you can add “-chan” after the name, like Zenitsu calls Nezuko “Nezuko-chan”.

That’s all!

Did you get it why Tanjiro could be Sumiko?
Kanji characters usually have more than 2 ways of reading.
Now you know Tanjiro’s kanji “TAN (炭)” can be read “SUMI” as well! This is awesome!
Hope you investigate more about kanji if you are interested in it.

That’s all! Thank you for reading. ^_^


  1. Theresa says:

    Thank you for this! It’s very helpful ahhaha i thought it would be too random (and too particular) a question for anyone to actually mind hahaha. Been interested in kanji for soooo long. However, seeing as there seems to be a million characters of it, it feels daunting to start learning it lolol

    • mima says:

      Thanks for your comment!
      Yes, so many kanji characters but not a million! My kid learns kanji at school and there is no shortcut. Just write, learn and exam. Practice makes perfect!
      Maybe you can start your favorite kanji (meaning, looking, or whatever)

      Enjoy it!! Ganbatte!