The rarest Japanese surnames 一番目の日本の珍しい名字
Because not everyone is called Suzuki or Tanaka!
The meaning of Japanese surnames comes from the interpretation of the kanji (Chinese characters) that compose them. These characters are generally associated with places, adjectives, or plants that would have a particular meaning for the clan to which the family belongs. Yet there are exceptions! And some names come from combinations of rather rare kanjis, with unusual pronunciations. This is what the linguist Takanobu Yukio was interested in, who published a book of the list of surnames worn by less than 100 people on the archipelago!
Takanobu Yukio is an associate linguist at the Japanese Family Name Research Center, a Japanese research center focusing on the origin and distribution of surnames in Japan.
For more than 45 years, the researcher consulted hundreds of registers to study more than 13,000 names spread over nearly 127 million people! A colossal study, which led to the publication of the list of 7 least common surnames on the archipelago.
Among them, a majority of names are constructed from the kanjis of the numbers, small originality in the construction of surnames, since the latter are generally reserved for male first names.
- Read also: Japanese surnames
Without further ado, here is the list of the lucky winners!
Names composed with the kanji of the number 1
- 一: " Ninomae"
Among the common readings of the number 1, ichi or hajime are widely used to construct male first names. Ichiro ("first-son"), Ichiko ("first-child"), the number 1 is known to designate the eldest of a sibling. Conversely, it is used very little to construct surnames. And when it is, the kanji of the first digit admits unconventional readings. This is particularly the case with the surname一which is pronounced " Ninomae ", to understand " Ni no Mae ", "before two".
- 一口: " moarai"
When accompanied by the kanji of the mouth, the number 1 would be pronounced " Imoarai ". This surname is mostly present in Kyoto since it comes from a local pronunciation used to speak of the abundant population of the ancient capital of Japan.
- 一 入: " Hitoshio"
The last name found in Nagasaki and Hokkaido in particular, " Hitoshio " consists of the kanjis of the number 1 and the entry which is usually pronounced " iri ". The irregular pronunciation of the last kanji would come here from the looms and would come from the number of times that a piece of fabric has to be soaked in the dye to be dyed (once " Hitoshio ", twice " Futashio", etc.).
九, the last name constructed with the kanji of the number 9
The kanji of the number 9 also has an irregular reading when used as a surname, since it is pronounced here " Ichijiku ". This reading would come from a phrase disai regularly then doctors to comfort their patients: "Disease is only a temporary problem" (病気やけがは一時の苦しみ Byoki are kega wa ku Ichiji No. rushimi ). The phrase can not be expressed without the kanji of the number 9!
十, the last name from the kanji of the number 10
As with the previous numbers, the number 10 also has an irregular reading when used as a surname. Pronounced " Tsunashi " or simply " tsu " or " nashi ", this reading would come from the way objects are counted. Today, we mainly find this surname in Kanagawa prefecture.
六合, the name of the village taken for the family name
Literally 'meeting of 6 areas'', this name is pronounced "Rikugo" and would be historically tied in the name of a village in Gunma. Today, however, it is in Kumamoto on the island of Kyushû that it is most common!
松 七五 三, the name formed by a succession of digits
Last name especially present in Hokkaido, 松 七五 三 is pronounced "Matsushime" and consists of the pine kanji (松) which keeps its current pronunciation, and the succession of the numbers 7 (七), 5 (五) and 3 (三) which has no common pronunciation. The unusual reading of this series of figures would actually have been chosen to bring good luck! It is on this same belief that the tradition of Shichi-go-san was established.