Hi, it’s Junko from Japan. What does Gaara’s tattoo mean? A Kanji symbol on Gaara’s forehead reads AI and means “love” in Japanese. This “love” symbol has two interpretations and completely changed its meaning when his true birth story was revealed in the NARUTO Shinobi World War episodes. I’ll explain the two meanings of his symbol, and Japanese fan facts about it.
In Gaara’s Childhood: Love Yourself
Gaara tattooed the love symbol on his forehead by himself when he was little. Gaara’s father Rasa was the fourth Kazekage of the hidden sand village. He let the one-tailed beast get sealed in his own son when Gaara was still a fetus in Gaara’s mother, Karura’s belly. Karura’s health was harmed by the one-tailed and she lost her life when she gave birth to Gaara. That caused Rasa to hate Gaara.
Since a little Gaara couldn’t control the power of the one-tailed beast and let it go wild, he grew up in deep hatred toward him from the entire village. Even Gaara’s family didn’t save him. His uncle (Karura’s brother) Yashamaru was the only person who took care of him, and Gaara loved him as well.
But Yashamaru’s true identity was a member of the Anbu of the Sand. He had gotten an order from the fourth Kazekage and kept an eye on Gaara to see if his existence could be beneficial for the village or not. The conclusion Kazekage made was crucial.
He judged Gaara as dangerous and ordered Yashamaru to kill him. Yashamaru followed his mission, but failed and was killed by Gaara. At his last moment, Yashamaru told Gaara that he hated Gaara who caused the death of Karura. Additionally, he continued his words that Karura had never loved Gaara. The name Gaara meant “a demon who only loves himself,” and nobody needed him.
Gaara lost all hope for his life and carved the love Kanji tattoo on his forehead as proof of his decision that he would never love others and live alone. For him, “love” was a symbol of his loneliness.
Here’s the video from the anime series in which you can see the episode with uncle Yashamaru. Little Gaara holding a teddy bear is so lovely!
After The Fourth Shinobi World War: My Beloved Son
Gaara of the desert has been an object of fear. But the meeting with Naruto Uzumaki eventually changed his mind. Gaara tried to use his power for people, and the effort was paid. He became the fifth Kazekage in NARUTO arc 2 (Shippuden in anime).
In the fourth Shinobi World War, Gaara fought against his father who was forcefully revived by the Shinobi technique, Edo Tensei (Impure World Reincarnation). Rasa was surprised to see Gaara become Kazekaze and told that what Yashamaru told him was a lie. It was a trial to value Gaara if he could resist the power of the one-tailed beast when he was pushed into a mental breakdown.
Rasa revealed the truth that Karura loved Gaara dearly. The Shield of Sand is her intention to protect her beloved son no matter what. Gaara forgave Rasa and sealed him.
The true meaning of Gaara’s name hasn’t been explained in the NARUTO story. But I think it means “my beloved son” because GA stands for “I,” and A does “love” in Japanese Kanji characters. RA seems to come from his father Rasa’s RA and his mother Karura’s RA. They all use the same Kanji symbol for RA.
What Are Gaara’s Favorite Words?
According to the official fan books of NARUTO, Gaara’s favorite word was JIAI, meaning “love oneself” in Japanese.
After NARUTO arc 2, his favorite word stays JIAI, but what it means has completely changed. This JIAI represents “affection” or “merciful love.”
The pronunciations are the same, but the Kanji combinations aren’t the same and make different meanings. His love was once for only himself, but now it’s for others!
Japanese Samurai Lord Who Fought with the Love Symbol
When it comes to Gaara’s love symbol, I remember a certain Japanese Samurai lord. His name is NAOE KANETSUGU, and he wore a unique helmet that displays the love Kanji symbol. Here’s the picture of the actual helmet, and you can find the same symbol on Gaara’s head.
It’s said the love on the helmet derives from the names of two Japanese Buddhism war gods, AIZEN MYOUO and ATAGO GONGEN. The love Kanji letter appears in the names of both gods. Kanetsugu lived in the era of war and placed the symbol wishing his victory in the wars.
I’m not sure if Masashi Kishimoto, the author of NARUTO knew and paid attention to the fact. However, the Kanji symbol after the war gods deserve Gaara’s character!
If you want to know the full meaning of Gaara’s name based on Kanji characters, check out the link below. It explains what each Kanji symbol represents in detail!