I was looking over the new US Census name frequency lists [via] and noticed that there were no obviously Japanese names in the top 1000.1 In fact, the highest ranked one I could find was “Tanaka” (tied for #4160 with “Cornish”), followed closely by “Nakamura” (#4203), “Sato” at (#4276) and “Yamamoto” at #4289 (tied with “Schoonover”). That’s it for the top 5000. Looking at a list of most common Japanese names: “Suzuki” came in at #6045, “Watanabe” at #6295, “Takahashi” at #6378, “Ito” at #6998, “Saito” at #72492 , “Kobayashi” at #8097, and “Yamaguchi” (not on the top-ten list, but I seem to come across it a lot) at #10273.3

In other news, I just sent off my very minor corrections to the galley proofs of the Japanese-language translation of my Japanese Diasporas chapter. Kudos to the translator, who had to deal with sentences like “Should the quasi-legal warnings of the kokoroegaki or the official gravitas of Hara’s proclamation fail to impress, Yamaguchi emigrants were also required to sign contract-like pledges of good behavior.” and “Though there was some ebb and flow in the sugar plantation workload, it was not the cycle of temperate agriculture to which the Japanese were accustomed.” When I have to write in Japanese, I try very hard to think in Japanese, but when I’m writing in English, the last thing I’m thinking of is translatability. Anyway, it’s quite a thrill to see the work moving towards a new audience.

  1. I might have missed one, but I’ve looked twice. I didn’t count names which could be Japanese, phonetically, but which I’ve never heard used as Japanese names, at least not frequently.  

  2. a three-way tie with “Danforth,” “Florio,” and “Krieg”  

  3. “Dresner,” in case you’re wondering, is ranked #42912 (that’s not a typo: I’m in mid-five-digits), and my extended family accounts for almost two percent of the Dresners in the census.  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.