I was out shopping and saw these notepads.  If you can’t read Japanese, can you guess what sorts of things are written on them?

 

 

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Hint:  Only some Japanese people can use them.  My family, for example, would not bother buying one.  Neither would Prime Minster Abe’s family  bother buying one.  Neither would Yoko Ohno.  However, Ichiro Suzuki might buy one.   (It would make a great present for him!)

 

 

Can you figure out what they say?  (Scroll down for answer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are the most common family names in Japan!    My husband’s name is not super common, so our name is not there.

The names are in this order:

Satou, Suzuki, Takahashi, Watanabe, Itou

Katou, Kobayashi, Tanaka, Yoshida, Yamada

Yamaguchi, Nakamura, Sasaki, Yamamoto, Matsumoto

These names are not on my JLPT exam, neverthless I need to know them because they come up with a bit of regularity in Japan.   Quite a lot of people here have one of these names.  Not everybody, of course, but quite a few people.

I remember when I first started teaching English.  I taught in a junior high. One day, I did not have a seating chart, so I just simply called out the name “Suzuki!” hoping some student would raise his or her hand.  (Suzuki is THE most common family name in Japan.)  However, everybody in the class just looked confused and the Japanese teacher said nobody had that name.  LOL  Never tried that trick again.