Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Japanese Names

Traditionally the family name or 'myoji' comes first and the personal name or 'namae' last. Middle names are not used nowadays but up until the C19th, people might have several of these to describe their occupation or characteristics. Only noble families had surnames and only the males could pass them on but when the Meiji government came to power after the fall of the Edo Shogunate in 1853, it was decided that everybody should have one. The royal family has no family name and women marrying into it lose theirs.

The bushi or samurai families tended to use certain names for their sons and this continues today.

eldest son Ichiro (mod.-ichi or -kazu suffix)
second son Jiro, Chojiro (ji suffix)
third son Saburo, Kanzaburo (zo suffix 3rd son)
fourth son Shiro, Heishiro
fifth son Goro, Daigoro

Common Male Name Elements

aki Be emon hide hisa ie
ji Kane katsu kuni masa mitsu
mochi Mori mune naga nobu nori
sada Sane shige suke tada taka
toki Tomo toshi tsugu tsuna uji
yasu Yori yoshi zo    

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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