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Oyadama (親玉 – Godfather)

  • Oyadama


    I sometimes use the Japanese word “oyadama” (親玉).

    “Oyadama” means a key person or leader in organizations.

    “Oya” (親) means “parent” and “dama/tama” (玉) means “ball,” so the literal meaning of “oyadama” is “parent ball.”
    親は “parent,” 玉は “ball” を意味するので、親玉の文字通りの意味は “parent ball” となります。

    Originally, this word was used to mean a big ball set in the center of “juzu” (数珠).

    “Juzu” is a tool that is made by connecting a large ball (oyadama) and many small balls in a circle, and it is used when praying in Buddhism.

    Since the small balls are arranged around the big ball, “oyadama” has come to mean a centerpiece, key person or leader.

    Note that this word is often used in a bad sense, such as “aku no oyadama” (悪の親玉 – master of evil), though I don’t know the reason.

    Original sentence