◆TOM FORD / TOM FORD EYEWEAR / TIFFANY ＆ CO.
◆GIORGIO ARMANI / MIKIMOTO
Commonality of Buck-Tick member names
I was thinking that if you’re not Japanese, you might not know how common or rare the various Japanese names are. For Buck-Tick, the names of the band members are fairly common first names and surnames, not really anything unusual happening there. No native speaker should have trouble reading their names. However, the most interesting thing to note is that Hisashi’s kanji is not usually how one would think to read that name, which is how it ended up that on their very first release on an independent label, his name was typo-ed as Kotobuki instead of Hisashi. (To keep that kanji and reading, it is likely to add one more kanji to make Hisashi, much like how Atsushi’s name is 2 kanji.) Our Hisashi Imai is not the only one with that kanji and name reading, but it’s not the default way to read it. This is why when you fill out forms in Japan, you not only write your name’s kanji but you also write down how to read it because you never know what combos a parent came up with.
Some basic info about their surnames, such as how common it is and where in Japan is it most common. Excluding Hokkaido and Tokyo as the majority of people who live in those two places are “immigrants”, so to speak, and not native for several generations. (If you meet someone from those 2 places, ask them where their grandparents are from.) I need you to be able to track your family history in that general area for at least 150-200 years in Japan to call you a native of that region, sorry. (If you can’t claim that you’re the 19th generation descendant of so-and-so, what is your worth?) This sort of tracking is quite easy to do in Japan because we have family registry books that note the genealogy (patriarchal because who needs to remember the names of women) and also serves as a way of establishing citizenship. It’s also fairly common IMHO for the history of a surname to be like, well 1000 years ago this person did something good for the emperor/king so they were granted a gift and the gift was this name and some land. But, I digress. (Trust me, this whole paragraph is hilarious if you’re Japanese with a sense of humor because it’s true.)
Focusing on family names here. No info on their first names as I looked up what were the most common names given to boys in the years the members were born and though their names are common enough, only one of the members have a name in the top 10 most popular boys names for the year they were born. Takashi (same kanji as B-T member; real first name of Toll) was the 9th most common name given to a boy in 1962 (same year as Takashi the drummer). Yutaka gets an honorable mention. Yutaka (same kanji as B-T member) was the 3rd most common name given to a boy in 1962 and 1963; the 6th most common name given to a boy in 1964; the 7th most common name given to a boy in 1965 (Yutaka the bassist was born in 1967). To the rest of the band members, don’t feel so bad as my name isn’t in the top 10 either! And who can even read child names today. It’s crazy, right? (mic check, um, can I get a chuckle?)
What is not so commonly shared and do not expect to ever know this stuff is the family crest. The family crest is VERY specific to the son that you descended from. Japan be like, “We can’t have each of George Foreman’s kids named George AND have the same family crest!” This ain’t no google search thing. This ain’t no ask a librarian. This is in the family genealogical book and the only people who get to see that is family. Sure, there’s crests online. But don’t think that’s your crest or your favorite celebrity crest. That’s just some common crest that made it’s way to a scanner. Also, if you study a craft, it could be that craft is from a “school” that passes on a pseudonym once you’ve mastered the craft, complete with kanji and crest so unless you know the master’s birth name, you’re not even looking in the right direction. Example, one year someone with the same family name and kanji as mine got really famous in Japan and even made international headlines. Like, you’ve probably heard of this person famous. My mom was curious if we’re related (internet says there’s only 5400 of us so maybe) and while she was visiting relatives, happened to find out that we have different family crests, thus she gave up the search and declared we are not related. (She did not want to bother to go back 19 generations or so to the story of the king who passed out names.., see paragraph 2 above.)
On to the names! For reference, all Buck-Tick members are from Gunma prefecture. Japan has a population of 126,476,461 people. The most common surnames are Satō, Suzuki, Takahashi, Tanaka, Itō, Watanabe, Yamamoto, Nakamura, and Kobayashi. Each of those surnames have over 1,000,000 people with that name residing in Japan. What’s a rare surname? Something with either 1 or 4+ kanji. (Except Hayashi.) They exist but. Really rare surnames? Well, those would be the names the Japanese government declared cannot exist anymore so those names tend to exist only outside of Japan. (Happened to one part of my family so I know this shit exists. Only 460 left. How did they get away with it? And how can I get hanko with this?)
Name info source: https://myoji-yurai.net/
literal meaning: cherry blossom-well
This kanji for Sakurai is ranked #106 for most common surnames in Japan. This is the most common kanji for Sakurai. It is commonly found in Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures. (Kanto region) For cities, Takasaki, Gunma and Uonuma, Niigata have the most people named Sakurai. Roughly 172,000 people in the entire nation are named 桜井. In Gunma, almost 5% of Kanna town has this surname. Other famous Sakurais? Argh, someone in The Alfee. Better than that, Ao from Cali≠Gari.
Same name as above, just different cherry blossom kanji (older version). This kanji for Sakurai is ranked #813 for most common surnames in Japan. It is commonly found in Kanagawa, Aichi, and Chiba prefectures (Kanto and Chubu regions) For cities, Takasaki, Gunma and Akashi, Hyogo have the most people named Sakurai. Roughly 23,600 people in the entire nation are named 櫻井. (The people who couldn’t be sussed to simplify their kanji.)
literal meaning: now-well
This kanji for Imai is ranked #75 for most common surname in Japan. This is the most common kanji for Imai. It is commonly found in Kanagawa, Saitama, and Aichi prefectures. (Kanto region) For cities, Gero, Gifu and Ichinomiya, Aichi have the most people named Imai. Roughly 212,000 people in the entire nation are named 今井. In Gunma, 20% of Ueno village has this surname. Other famous Imais? Miki Imai, singer, wife to Tomoyasu Hotei.
literal meaning: star-field
This kanji for Hoshino is ranked #147 for most common surnames in Japan. This is the most common kanji for Hoshino. It is commonly found in Gunma, Saitama, and Kanagawa prefectures (Kanto region). For cities, Kiryu, Gunma and Nagaoka, Niigata have the most people named Hoshino. Roughly 137,000 people in the entire nation are named 星野. In Gunma, almost 36% of Katashina village has this surname. Other famous Hoshinos? Gen Hoshino wrote a song during the pandemic that got very popular and even Hisashi Imai posted a video of him playing along to that song.
This kanji for Higuchi is ranked #132 for most common surnames in Japan. This is the most common kanji for Higuchi. It is commonly found in Fukuoka, Osaka, Niigata, and Kanagawa prefectures (Kansai to Chubu regions) but it’s safe to say it is common throughout all of Japan except for Okinawa. Roughly 146,000 people in the entire nation are named 樋口. In Gunma, there’s roughly 1,000 people named Higuchi in Takasaki and guess where our bassist is from. Other famous Higuchis? How about Yutaka Higuchi the figure skater.
Yagami…the stage name of the drummer. He never writes this in kanji but I imagined that if he did, he would write it as 八神. Or did he write it like that once so that’s why I imagine it that way? Anyway, there’s many possible kanji variations and I was surprised that the most common way to write it is actually 谷上. (For me, I’m like is that Tanuye? Taniue? because I’m Okinawan and we have weird place names.)