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This article contains spoilers from the Light Novel, Anime or the Manga! If you have not read/watched then please do not continue on. You've been warned!
Kino was born in the Land of Adults with the name of a flower. She dislikes it as it resembles that of an insult (i.e., nekura meaning dark-mooded) which resulted in her often being teased.Though not outright stated, it is implied that it is "Sakura" - a bright red flower found just beyond the borders of her home country. When Sakura was eleven years old, she met a man named Kino who was a traveler and needed somewhere to stay. She offers to let him stay at her parents' hotel, which he gladly accepts. During his stay in the country, he finds a broken motorrad (German word for motorcycle) frame and restores it. He asks her what she thinks they should name it, and she asked him in return what he called his previous motorrad. He told her "Hermes", and the two of them decide to name the newly repaired motorrad Hermes as well.
He soon discovers from her that in the Land of Adults, children undergo a medical operation on their twelfth birthday that transitions their lives from children to adults, destined to complete a single task with a smile no matter how arduous or boring the work. Kino responds that in other countries, adults are able to shape their lives in accordance to their own liking. That evening, Sakura ponders upon Kino's statement and wonders whether or not she is required to undergo the operation. The next morning, on her twelfth birthday, Sakura asks her parents if she could bypass the operation.
Her parents immediately turn hostile, along with the entire town, for bringing up such taboo. Her father grabs a knife, ready to kill the "mistake" he had made. Kino takes the knife intended for Sakura, mortally wounding himself in the process. At that moment, Hermes becomes alive and suggests to Sakura that she should ride him in order to escape and survive.
She quickly escapes the town with the help of Hermes, and renames herself after the man that had saved her. With their new names, the new Hermes and the new Kino start their own journey.