Wednesday, September 14, 2005




OR SO I thought as I watched amused for that two-hour 'Special' program about NAMES last night.THE PROGRAM dealt in-depth research on Japanese surnames: from the unusual to the hilarious to the differing pronunciation, blah-blah-blah!

INTERVIEWS were conducted and the program staff went to the pain of going to each site, and some of those involved were even brought right there at the studio. EVEN THE JAPANESE THEMSELVES WERE AMUSED AND SURPRISED THAT SUCH SURNAMES EXISTS!

MEZURASHII MYOJI or UNUSUAL SURNAMES ranged from the hilarious to the yucky type [well, that's as far as WE, Pinoys are concerned!]. Let's take a look at a small town in TOYAMA-Ken:

>1. SAKANA meaning FISH/ISDA: the couple jokingly said that they have small 'sakana' too. It turned out that they have two small twin-girls.

>2. EBI which means SHRIMP/HIPON: and the interviewer had fun calling the old woman "EBI-San [Mrs. Shrimp/Gng. Hipon]". The old Lady apparently didn't mind. After all, she has lived her 80 or-so-years as such. She added she has lived near the fishing port all her life. Talk about fish or is it shrimps... to the sea, huh?

>3. USHI which is Japanese for COW/BAKA: A young wife smilingly answered that there are more like hers living in the town. Imagine that! Kung sa 'Pinas ka, tawag sa iyo, Bb. Baka...o kaya nmn, Bb. BABOY.... yayayay!

>4. DAIKU is the Japanese word for CARPENTER/KARPINTERO: and he makes a special Japanese delicacy made of fish. He makes decors out of that concoction and for that day, he made a house-shaped delicacy, quite true to his name: that of a carpenter! Sa atin, kung baga, tatawagin mo ang panday ng Mang Karpintero. Sounds good nmn, db?

THE SURNAMES were apparently supplied by the DATA CENTER of the country. I am totally amazed at how these were kept and updated. For example, the staff asked for the distribution of a particular surname, the most common, or the most strange. They also have the history of surnames accounted for in their archives.

THERE IS one that most cannot pronounce. It was long and none of those in the audience can decipher HOW TO READ it. I agree. Japanese readings have two types. One comes from the Chinese reading and another the Japanese origin. A combination KANJI would turn out a different reading altogether. Mahirap talaga! Mismong mga Hapon, nahihirapan, paano na lang ang mga Banyagang[?] katulad ko?

ANOTHER UNUSUAL one came up when a man was called and he showed the KANJI [JAPANESE CHARACTER] on how his name look like. Everyone had fun guessing: IT was written as AUGUST 1 if we are to translate it in English. This left me wondering... meron ba sa atin ng apelyidong AGOSTO UNO?

NIPPON is JAPAN in Japanese. The Japanese call their country NIPPON. And it turned out that there is a family in the Japan that answers to that name. NIPPON FAMILY! Great!

THEN THERE is this name bearing the PREFECTURES [KEN] or the equivalent of PROVINCES in our country. Most were surprised to know that there were so many Japanese who sport the various Prefectural Names. This includes YAMAGUCHI, KOCHI, TOYAMA, SHIMANE... and so forth. Can't help but be reminded of a Miss MANILA, a security guard at NAIA with whom I left my baggages when I left something at the carousel and had to go back to retrieve it. Hindi ka man beauty-contest potential, puwede na rin, kasi Ms. manila ka agad! Nice one, huh?!

THERE'S THIS family in the southermost tip of Japan, far down south of Okinawa's small scattered islands. The patriarch who is in his 80's worry so much about the death of his family's surname. You see, he has five daughters. That means his surname wouldn't survive. He is the 11th in a successive generation of KADENOUUJI [his surname]. His married daughters have thus adopted their respective husbands' names. Having earned the distinction of being THE ONLY ONE sporting that name, which, BTW, dates back to the HEIEAN JIDAI [HEIEAN ERA] posed a big problem. This was solved when two of his grandchildren, a boy and a girl in their teens agreed to be "ADOPTED [YOSHI]" by their grandfather. That would solve the problem of continuity. When asked how they feel, the teens replied that they are truly proud of their granddad's surname inspite of the fact that it will take a long way to say it.

I PERSONALLY met a Pinay who was seated beside me on our way to Inang Bayan one December day a few years back. After talking for a while she asked for my name and contact number. I obliged and said: 'YAMAKI' [ YAMA means MOUNTAIN, and KI means TREE]. Then she wrote her name and gave the note to me: FUKIMOTO! I had a hard time restraining myself from giggling.... [sorry po!]

ON ONE occasion, I was driving with some Pinays who went with me on a "Sale" in downtown Hamamatsu. One pointed out a billboard with the words FUTABA. She pronounced it in a way as if she is asking...FUTA...BA? The rest of those seated at the back guffawed and can't help feel sorry for Pinays married to someone with this name.

ON MY way to work, I was caught in a traffic jam along the National Route #150 [Roads here anre numbered. So if you want to know which one was built first, you got to start with #1:that connects Tokyo with Osaka]. Apparently the flow of traffic stopped when an accident of sort happened atop the bridge. So I was left doing nothing except listen to the CD on my car stereo. Then something caught my eye: KAWAWA. There it was: a billboard advertising a motor shop. I asked a relative later whether it was a family name, and he replied in the affirmative. Kawawa-San! Ms. Kawawa! wiz ko yata type yun...

ASO is an ordinary surname in Japan. Sa 'Pinas, ang ASO ay ASO, right? Kapag nasa Japan ka, OKs lang, pero kapag nasa 'Pinas ka, iiwasan ko talaga na matawag ng ganito, noh....kung lang nmn..hehehehe

WHEN I was in College, I had a classmate whose surname was BAGONG GAHASA and G. KUTO from the South. He attended our Pilipino class. Goodness! Kahit ano pa, hindi mo ako mapapakasal sa may ganoong pangalan, anoh! Hindi ko siguro masisikmura yun!


EWAN KO... but one thing I know: it's just a name!

The person within counts more than any sweet-smelling name in the world.

But then......


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