Wednesday, September 14, 2005


THE TOPIC is so vast one cannot discuss it in one sitting or one entry. So here goes another one....

THE MOST COMMON NAMES among the Japanese is YAMADA, TANAKA, NAKATA and lots more. But the number one in the list is SUZUKI. People bearing this name are scattered all over the Land of the Rising Sun. But the largest concentration is found in HAMAMATSU in Central Japan, which, btw, is beside the city where I live. This is in SHIZUOKA-KEN, the birthplace of SUZUKI Car Plant. It is also where the main plant of YAMAHA and HONDA are situated.

THERE IS this joke among the Japanese that if you happen to stop by Hamamatsu Station, just shout the name "SUZUKI" and almost everyone would respond with "HAI?" [YES?] ...meaning, almost all of the residents bear the name Suzuki. This holds true even in my small class of 6. Two girls who attend the same English Class answer to the name SUZUKI YUKA. The 'strange' thing is that they were both born on the same day, same year. I have resorted to calling them YUKA1 and YUKA2 to separate one from the other. The same is true with other common surnames.

FIRST NAMES HERE are often well-thought of. Some even consult experts who determines the right name for the child. They believe that by giving the child a good name it will ensure that person's good fortune and happiness. The names are determined by the number of strokes each name written in KANJI is done.

MOST NAMES have meaning, or goes together with the surnames. For example, my father is named YAMAKI TORANOUSKE. TORA being a TIGER, which makes his name mean STRONG, and his surname which I discussed earlier means YAMA=MOUNTAIN, and KI=TREE. So if we decipher his name, he would be A STRONG TIGER IN THE MOUNTAIN AMONG THE TREES. Fantastic, isn't it? He sure is proud of his name. He may be strong, but he isn't as wild as a tiger. He was such a soft-hearted and caring person.

IN CASES where the only child is a girl [or several girls], the problem of succession comes into the picture. In this case, the husband is enjoined to "adopt" the name of the wife, thus making him change his name to that of his wife's. In the western world and those of ours, this runs contrary to common practice. But this is allowed here to preserve the name that has long been in the family for generations. One shining example is that of TANAKA MAKIKO, a Niigata-Ken lawmaker whose father, the late Prime Minister TANAKA KAKUEI has brought Japan to its peak in the last vestiges of the past century. She married Naoki who was adopted into Makiko's family.

ABE may sound Kapampangan, but this one is a surname here. Unlike it's Pampango meaning which means "KAIBIGAN" here, it's plain apelyido lamang.

BOYS HAVE have varied names. Here is a list of first names I have encountered in class, or elsewhere: MITSUHIRO, YUDAI[grandeur, magnificent], TAIKI[genius/air/atmosphere], HIDEO[ intelligent, brainy], KATSUO[ winner], YUTAKA* [ABUNDANT, RICH, AMPLE,PLENTIFUL]. I like the last one best: it's meaning is good.

GIRLS however have great names as well..... AIKO[ AI-means LOVE// KO means CHILD], MIDORI [GREEN,VERDANT], MAYUMI, NAOKO, and more. ETSUKO means JOY, DELIGHT... which describes the feeling my parents had when I was born, hence the name.


We were given names in Japanese names, too. But we didn't care using them while attending schools in MetroManila. We were happy using our names there. Now it's a bit different here. The old folks want to imbue that YAMATO in me, hence they call me the way they like. COOL, ei?


HONESTLY? I don't mind. After all, I have used my Christian name longer than I can remember. And I always respond to that name with gusto.

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