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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Japanese Family Name - Special Circumstance

As most people are aware, in Japan, the surname - the family name is written and said first, ahead of the given name. But that is NOT what this blog is about.

Allow me to tell you about a special circumstance involving the family name.

As in most cultures, the husband's surname is adopted by the wife upon marriage. It's not always done - my own non-Japanese wife has kept her own surname - and kids often have a hyphenated surname denoting both the mother and father's surnames. Not in the case of my son, but hopefully you know what I mean:
John Fricke marries Lisa Brown. Their son Edward becomes Not Edward Fricke, but Edward Fricke-Brown.

In Japan... there's something a little bit different.

In special instances, the man can change HIS surname to that of his wife's upon marriage.

Wow! Is Japan ahead of the sexist curve?!

The husband can indeed change his surname to the wife's IF the woman has no brothers or sisters AND if the wife's parents give their consent.

The only example of this that I know of is via good friends Matthew and Takako Hall. Takako-chan's father changed his name to that of his brotherless and sisterless wife, to become a Kurita. I know this because he told me so one night at a dinner party at his place where I was lucky enough to get invited to (along with Matthew, of course).

Andrew Joseph


  1. Any special reason he adapted her name? (Not that there is anything wrong with it.)

    1. I believe it's a show of face for him... to show that he is a good man... it helps keep the wife's family name going. Pretty ballsy. I have no idea how women do it anyways... I'm proud of my surname... of who I am... despite the recent run of crap luck I've been having.