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Meaning of the Kanji
First, let's break down the kanji:
Readings: ソウ; ショウ; あい-
Meaning: inter-; mutual; together
Meaning: rod; stick; pole
Origin of the Word
Translation, Vocabulary, & Notes
The word "Aibou" means a companion, a person with whom one does something together. In the Edo period (1603-1868), when carrying a basket with a shoulder pole, the pole was carried by two people, and the people who carried it together were called "aibou”. This came to mean a colleague to work with, a friend to do something with.
A popular detective show (season 21 just started!) is called 相棒 and stars 水谷 豊 who acts like an English gentleman (英国紳士) and his first 相棒, 亀山薫 returns this season after a ten year absence.
In the manga/anime Disastrous Life of Saiki K, one of the characters (Nendou) always calls Saiki 「相棒」. They aren't friends. They are "partners."