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History Of Japanese Names

What is in a name? Apparently a whole lot especially for the Japanese, unlike other cultures the Japanese have no middle name, they are usually referred to by their surname or family name, which is followed by their first name or given name.
This rule excludes the names of those in the royal family, especially the Emperor and the crown prince, who do not have surnames but are generally referred to by their titles.

Japanese names are usually coined, from all that surrounds them especially landscapes, male names usually end with “ta” [which means great or thick] and “to” [which means bright or son] Japanese females names usually end with “mi”[beauty] or “ko” [child] Japanese male names also end with -shi or -o.
If there is “ichi” in a Japanese male name, it means that he is the first son and if it is “ji” that means he is a second son.

Japanese names are usually written in “Kanji” “Hiragana” or “Katakana” but there is now a government law, which monitors and restricts the frivolous use of the Kanji to write Japanese names, for example in 1993 a couple tried to name their baby “Akuma” which means devil.

In the past, all Japanese were the property of the Emperor and as such he could name any of his subjects, according to their accomplishments or contributions to his reign, that is why most Japanese names till date reflect the reign of some Emperors.
Also the peasants only had first names as their surnames and this was coined mostly from either their place of birth or descent.
Merchants too were also the same, as their surnames was a reflection of the products the sold or dealt in, farmers were named after their fathers but all this changed after the Meiji restoration, when the government issued a declaration that everyone was now equal and should have their own individual surnames.

A name means a lot because it is your identity, this is how it was for the Japanese in feudal times and even more. A person’s name was their identity as well as a reflection of their status in the society, whether you were the emperor, a merchant, samurai, peasant or even a slave, one knew who you were and could even recount your history just by your name.
But before the feudal times, clan names was the trend as people were known or identified just by the clans they came from, such as Minamoto no Yoritomo, which means Yoritomo of the Minamoto clan, the “no” inbetween the names means “of”

In Japan [especially not within the family], most names cannot be written or spoken without some sort of honorific [title] attached to it, outside of the family people are always called either by their family names or by their profession, such as “sensei” which means teacher, most times its even a combination of both.

Older family members call the younger ones by their given names but it’s the other way round for them because a younger family member, would always call an elder family member either by a name or title, such as kaasan which means “mother” or nichaan which means “big brother”
Also family members or close friends, usually don’t call each other by their first names but its a mixture of their surname with a title.

In Japan, “throwing a name away” means when a person is addressed without adding the suffix “san” to a person’s name, the Japanese feel it is rude not to do so because “san” is roughly translated as Mr., Mrs., Master or Mistress.

Japanese names can seem confusing, especially when its written in English because its Romanized and therefore written in reverse, this you would agree conflicts with the real names of others who now have the same names as those that were Romanized.
Also this is good news for those who yearn for Japanese citizenship, as in the past it was a rule to adopt Japanese names before getting Japanese citizenship but now the Japanese Government has eased up on this a little, so all you need do is change your present name, as in write your name in Kanji or Katakana and that is it! You’ve just gotten your Japanese citizenship, but don’t forget that all other relevant criteria must be met as well.

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