1. What is the meaning of “CLAMP”?
There are many variations such as CLAMP being a misinterpretation of “clump”, which roughly means “a pile of potatoes”, according to old English-Japanese dictionaries, which could explain the nature of CLAMP’s early doujinshi works that used to be many works from various artists (they were 12 at the time), all “clumped” together.
It also explains why the president of the “CLAMP Campus” is Nokoru Imonoyama and his family funded the school. “Imonoyama” (or, if you break apart: imo no yama) means “a pile of potatoes” (“imo” means potato in Japanese and “yama” means montain/pile).
However, there is a more practical explanation that was revealed recently in the talk between CLAMP’s Nanase Ohkawa and manga artist Kouga Yun that was published in a special release in celebration of Kouga Yun’s 30th Anniversary as professional manga artist:
——I have heard that the origin of the name “CLAMP” is related to Kouga
Ohkawa: It is (laughs). Kouga was supposed to have two spaces at Dream Comic but whether that became one space or she had one space and we needed to increase it to two… I don’t quite remember which, but anyway, it was a bad idea to leave Kouga’s group without another empty table next to them, they would not be able to handle the people. We called ourselves CLAMP to guarantee Kouga an adjacent space at that event. At the time, Kouga’s group was called “CLUB/Y,” so we needed a name that started with “CL” to come before them on the pamphlet, so one of my friends who was there looked it up in a dictionary and gave us the name “CLAMP.”
Kouga: Tables used to be arranged in alphabetical order.
Ohkawa: That they were. They weren’t separated by genre or popularity, so we did it in order to free up a space next to “CLUB/Y.”
Kouga: With “CLA” (laughs).
Ohkawa: It had to be a name that started with anything from “CLA” to “CLU” so we were pretty strict (laughs). So, maybe they thought we wouldn’t publish books; taking the space was our goal. Which genre were you working in then?
Kouga: Just before “Yajou teikoku” it might have been Captain Tsubasa.
At that time, Ohkawa used to work as a staff member of Dream Comic fair.
So, as stated, before the meaning itself, there was a practical reason: they needed to come up with a name that ranged from “CLA” to “CLU” and “CLAMP” was chosen. After that, I think they started to dig deeper into the meaning and explore its possibilities, but the meaning wasn’t the first thing they thought about.
It is also worth mentioning that Ohkawa herself already stated in previous interviews that the name “CLAMP” was not chosen by any of the current 4 members. It was probably a former member or somebody close to them at the time, as stated above by Ohkawa.