Oniko's America

Who is Oniko? - Why the name 'Oniko'?
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Who is Oniko?
My English name is Garth Haslam, and I'm American by birth. I self-publish comic books, run web pages related to comic books, paranormal investigation, and monster myths (see my
links page for more info), and repair computers at a High School in Petaluma, a town about 60 miles north of San Francisco in California. Oh, and I'm taking classes at San Francisco State University towards my degree in Anthropology (though I don't know what I'll do with it when I get it!). As I tell people who ask me how I'm doing... I keep busy. It should be little wonder then that I occasionally need a break from things.
I initially visited Japan with a group of students for a month in 1990; it was a home stay, and, lucky me, my host family asked me to stay an extra month. Ever since that trip, I've wanted to return, and have been taking language courses.
If you find yourself in Japan in the future, and you spot a Gaijin (foreigner) with a ponytail, tiger-striped wristband, and tiger-striped bag, that's likely me... I kinda' stand out in a crowd.

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Why the name 'Oniko'?
This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many reasons for my choosing this name... but I'll try to explain. Let's start with something the Japanese version of this page doesn't require... a brief translation of my chosen Japanese name "Oniko".

A generic 'oni'. The
picture is borrowed from
a Japanese monster book.

'Oni-ko' is comprised of two Japanese kanji -- Chinese characters adopted for use by the Japanese -- namely the two figures to the left. The top character is 'Oni', which is a mythical Japanese monster. This word is usually translated to English as 'demon' or 'devil', but this is not an entirely correct description of the beast so named.
In Japanese myths, Oni are very angry characters that often do cause humans all sorts of problems; but Oni are also associated with temples dedicated to Kannon, Buddhist goddess of mercy, and Oni were also believed to be the cause of thunder during storms... living in the clouds, they would beat their drums loudly during storms, presumably because they really liked the weather. Onis are physically described as looking like humans, except they have horns and fangs (so you can see why Oni got translated as 'Devil'). Tales of Oni originally came from China, and some famous ancient Chinese illustrations of Oni show them wearing Tiger skins; so now that Onis have become popular fantasy characters in every style of Japanese comic book, they are almost always shown wearing a tiger stripe motif. It's also common in the comics nowadays to show the Onis as having green hair also, but this appears to be a more modern, comic book driven, alteration to their appearance. [And for those of you who are familiar with the manga/anime series Urusei Yatsura, yes, Lum is an Oni.]
The second character in the name is much simpler to explain. "Ko" -- the second figure to the left above -- simply means "child", and it's a popular ending to add to a given name. For example: Ichiko ["First child"] is a popular name for the first born kid, and Momoko ["Peach child"] is a popular girl's name. So 'Oniko' imitates this style of naming by declaring me "Oni child"... though, believe me, I don't know of anyone in Japan who'd be tempted to name their kid Oniko.

So now that you know what the name means, the next thing to explain is why I felt it was a good choice for me.

In Japan there are only a few critters that coincide with all these interests -- Japanese monsters that favor rainy days, and that appear commonly in both ancient myths and modern comic books. Of these creatures -- Oni, Ryuu, and Kappa -- the Oni in particular matches me in one more way, so it was the one I choose; but to find out what that one extra match is, you have to find me and ask!

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