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Japanese surnames


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Does anyone know why Japanese don't have sinicized surnames like Korea and Vietnam do? For example Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese use the surname 李. But Japanese uses mostly use native words for surnames like Takahashi (高橋) and Watanabe (渡邊、渡辺)and never use common sinicized surnames like 李, 王, and 楊.

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I wonder why they didn't adopt Chinese surnames. Maybe it's because most Japanese adopted surnames during the Meiji Era when Chinese influence was dwindling and they were adopting western traditions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but during the Meiji Era, Japan and China didn't get along. So that may be an explanation for why most surnames use native Japanese words in surnames as opposed to On'yomi names.

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I wonder why they didn't adopt Chinese surnames.

People'd feel more natural, more inclined to adopt something that is in fashion, that comes from the dominant culture of the time, something that they feel would enhance their social status (For the present time, think of people from other culture adopting Western names. It's the same reason for Korean, Vietnamese to adopt Chinese names at the time they did.)

Such a time when Chinese culture was an equivalent of Western culture had long gone when Japanese people had by law to adopt surnames (19th century), what would you think that would prompt them to adopt Chinese names? Nothing really, especially if one remembers that China was going through a very humiliating phase in her history, being bullied from all directions! So, the natural and convenient thing for the Japanese to do then is to adopt Japanese words and phrases which refer to their professions, locations, characteristics, etc as surnames (for this reason, many Japanese names seem to be fairly descriptive).

Anyway, this is my take (but I also believe that even a monkey can sometimes fall off the tree! :D)

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