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Japanese family names

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Japanese family names

Postby Kenitai » Sun 09.07.2008 10:49 am

Hi everyone,

Something has been in my mind for some time, something about Japanese family names.
How is het system like; when a female national Japanese gets married with a western male and their children obtaining their surname?

Much like, in most western countries, or atleast where I live (in the Netherlands) where the female partner uses the male's surname after marriage. And when (I believe so) their son gets the father's surname, and the daughter obtaining the mother's surname. If you get me that is...

So how does it work in Japan? The name? Or different?

Much is my concern wether a Japanese daughter obtains their western daddy's family name, or her native Japanese mother's...

Thanks in advance, for any replies to come.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby richvh » Sun 09.07.2008 11:25 am

Oyaji, Mike Cash or Clay could give definitive answers, but to my understanding, in Japan, in general a wife takes her husband's surname, just as in the west, and the children take the family's surname. There are exceptions when the wife's family name is in danger of dying out, when the husband will take the wife's surname.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby becki_kanou » Sun 09.07.2008 12:00 pm

Kenitai wrote:Hi everyone,

Something has been in my mind for some time, something about Japanese family names.
How is het system like; when a female national Japanese gets married with a western male and their children obtaining their surname?

Much like, in most western countries, or atleast where I live (in the Netherlands) where the female partner uses the male's surname after marriage. And when (I believe so) their son gets the father's surname, and the daughter obtaining the mother's surname. If you get me that is...

So how does it work in Japan? The name? Or different?

Much is my concern wether a Japanese daughter obtains their western daddy's family name, or her native Japanese mother's...

Thanks in advance, for any replies to come.


This page has an answer: "Any children born as a result of the marriage will officially take the Japanese national's surname. For example if Miss Suzuki (Japanese) married Mr.Smith (Australian) and adopted her spouse's surname, their child will take the Smith name; however if Miss Suzuki did not change her name, their child would take the Suzuki name. "
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby Kenitai » Sun 09.07.2008 7:01 pm

Thank you very much for the reply. :D I've become a bit wiser now.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby clay » Sun 09.07.2008 9:22 pm

Yep. My wife's name is Yumi Boutwell and our children are Makoto and Megumi Boutwell in Japan. In America (where we are not limited to two names as in Japan), Makoto's middle name is Aoki which is Yumi's maiden name.

There are exceptions when the wife's family name is in danger of dying out, when the husband will take the wife's surname.

Funny story. My brother-in-law who was an Aoki married a lady who was an Aoi. The Aoi's only had that one daughter and needed help with the farm. So my brother-in-law dropped the 'k' and became an Aoi.

His friends made sport of this minor change in name at the wedding reception. They wrote a song/skit just for the occasion.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 09.08.2008 9:50 am

clay wrote:Funny story. My brother-in-law who was an Aoki married a lady who was an Aoi. The Aoi's only had that one daughter and needed help with the farm. So my brother-in-law dropped the 'k' and became an Aoi.

His friends made sport of this minor change in name at the wedding reception. They wrote a song/skit just for the occasion.


An American military friend of mine married a Japanese girl. Her family also had no sons and so, he moved to Japan, renounced his US citizenry and took her family name in order to continue the family name. I understand that in other eras, not so much this one, that a second son or third son would be married into a family that had no sons in order to continue family lines.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby vkladchik » Mon 09.08.2008 11:19 am

clay wrote:Funny story. My brother-in-law who was an Aoki married a lady who was an Aoi. The Aoi's only had that one daughter and needed help with the farm. So my brother-in-law dropped the 'k' and became an Aoi.

Here's another story. When I was living in Japan, a friend of mine whose last name was 高田 married girl whose last name was 下田. People joked that they should both change their last names to 中田.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby vkladchik » Mon 09.08.2008 11:21 am

two_heads_talking wrote:a second son or third son would be married into a family that had no sons in order to continue family lines.

Why would they need a second son or a third son? Wouldn't just one son be enough?
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby becki_kanou » Mon 09.08.2008 11:36 am

vkladchik wrote:
two_heads_talking wrote:a second son or third son would be married into a family that had no sons in order to continue family lines.

Why would they need a second son or a third son? Wouldn't just one son be enough?


I think being in Japan too long has busted my sarcasm detector. Are you serious or making a joke?
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby vkladchik » Mon 09.08.2008 12:04 pm

becki_kanou wrote:I think being in Japan too long has busted my sarcasm detector. Are you serious or making a joke?

No I'm serious. I've never heard of a family taking a second son. You only need one son to continue the family name. Right? Or is there something that I'm missing?
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby richvh » Mon 09.08.2008 12:23 pm

"Second son or third son" doesn't refer to two or three sons marrying into the same family to preserve its name, it's referring to a younger son doing so.
自族の字を続けることというと、長男は充分です。次男か三男が他族の字を取ってもいいです。
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 09.08.2008 1:55 pm

vkladchik wrote:
becki_kanou wrote:I think being in Japan too long has busted my sarcasm detector. Are you serious or making a joke?

No I'm serious. I've never heard of a family taking a second son. You only need one son to continue the family name. Right? Or is there something that I'm missing?


As RichVh pointed out and as it seems I was unclear, 2nd or 3rd son refers to the 2nd born son or 3rd born son. As I am speaking of family lineage, the first born son, would be the line of lineage. If a family did not have a son, they would look to a family that had more than one son and would attempt to marry their daughter to the 2nd born or 3rd born son in order that the family name could be continued.

vkladchik wrote:
two_heads_talking wrote:a second son or third son would be married into a family that had no sons in order to continue family lines.

Why would they need a second son or a third son? Wouldn't just one son be enough?

they key words you missed here or the main emphasis I was working on was ".... would be married into a family that had no sons......" I had thought that was clear, apparently it was not as clear as I had imagined.
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Re: Japanese family names

Postby vkladchik » Mon 09.08.2008 3:35 pm

richvh wrote:"Second son or third son" doesn't refer to two or three sons marrying into the same family to preserve its name, it's referring to a younger son doing so.
自族の字を続けることというと、長男は充分です。次男か三男が他族の字を取ってもいいです。

*smacks forehead* :oops:

I didn't read to the end of the sentence... "into a family that had no sons in order to continue family lines."
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