"Obasan" means "Aunt" in Japanese. Motherhood is represented by the titular character of Aya, and the significance of it is shown in the impact of Aya on the main character, Naomi Nakane. Aya is a stoic aunt to Naomi, yet it is clear that she loves her after all. Despite Aya's silent nature, her actions more than demonstrate her love and concern for Naomi. This is demonstrated when it is revealed that Aya hid the truth about Naomi's mother's disfigurement (resulting from the bombs that struck Pearl Harbor). Naomi realizes that Aya was trying to protect her from knowing the truth because of her motherly love; she didn't want Naomi to be hurt. Aya also demonstrates her love for both Naomi and Stephen, most notably when she shoulders the burden of caring for two orphaned children when their parents disappear. She feeds them, clothes them, and gives them a place to live. Therefore, the importance of motherhood is shown in the character of Aya, whose motherly love touches Naomi.