Culture Family history
There are 2 million people in Japan with the surname Satō and more than a million for several other names.
There are 2 million people in Japan named Satō, which is the most common surname in the country. Like other popular surnames, including Itō and Katō, it is associated with the once powerful Fujiwara clan— yours in these names is the same kanji (藤) as i fuji Fujiwara. In a complex process, this famous kanji became attached to other characters indicating place names or positions associated with Fujiwara descendants.
Today, Satō is especially common in Akita and Yamagata prefectures. Notables with the name include Satō Eisaku, who was prime minister from 1964 to 1972 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.
Suzuki is the second most common surname with 1.75 million people, originating from an old usage in what is now Wakayama Prefecture. It is considered the most likely origin of the name susukithe word for an ear of rice considered sacred in the Kumano region of present-day Wakayama and Mie prefectures.
It is particularly common in prefectures including Aichi, Shizuoka, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama and Kanagawa. Baseball star Suzuki Ichirō is among the famous people who bear this name.
The third most common surname is Takahashi, with 1.45 million. It appears in the eighth century Nihon Shoki (Chronicle of Japan), but its roots are unclear. As it has a simple literal meaning of “high bridge”, it may have simply been accepted as the name of people living near bridges over ravines and other high places in the vast mountainous terrain of Japan.
Famous people with the surname include manga artist Takahashi Kazuki, an illustrator for Yu-Gi-Oh!
(Originally posted in Japanese: Banner image © Pixta.)
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