Top Three Japanese Family Names Quiz (名字)

By Donnie | Articles

I was at work the other day, I was looking at some of my students’ name tags. I am really trying to study more kanji and I thought that I might be able read some of the name tags I was seeing. Needless to say, I didn’t do so well, I struggled to figure out the exact readings of many of the names I was looking at. So I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me and my kanji studies 🙁 .

However 🙂 , while I was botching the readings for the names, and having students correct me, I noticed that some of the family names (miyoji (みょうじ or 名字) in Japanese) were similar. So I started to think about what popular Japanese family names. I asked about ten teachers at work along with about ten former AEON students and I was surprised to hear that the vast majority listed three names in particular as the most popular Japanese names. So I have a little quiz for you today.

In the following list, which three Japanese names do you think are most popular here in east Japan?

Which ones do you think nearly every one of the Japanese staff/students that I surveyed said?

Please feel free to leave your answers in the comments section below. I will post the answers the Japanese Last Names Quiz tomorrow.

Special Japan Guy Quiz Rule: Before you go probing the web for answers, try to do this quiz using just what’s in your head. Don’t worry about internet research just yet, just comment on what three you think they are.


TO the staff and AEON students who helped me with this quiz. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Donald Ash

P.S.-I hear the popularity of last names may vary a bit as you head to the western side of Japan, and in Okinawa, the popular names would be totally different.

P.S.-When the teachers & students flipped the question around on me, I had a hard time thinking of the most popular American names. I said Smith, Brown, Green, or Smith, Brown, Anderson. Any ideas of the three most common American names? Try thinking of them without doing internet research first. I did my research afterwards and my answers are a little off, but it was fun!! I’ll post these in a p.s. tomorrow as well.

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  • Robb J.

    Awesome quiz!:)

    I read the title of this post and guessed “Yamada” before I even saw the options. So, I’m going to stick with that…and add “Tanaka.” And, it’s not on your list, but I feel like almost every teacher at our school had the last name “Sensei”, so that’s my third.

    • 森名 出日人

      I would say 山本(yamamoto) 高橋(takahashi) and 山田(yamada)
      by the way Robb, sensei is just a polite way to say teacher, that’s why every teacher at your school had the name followed by sensei i.e. Ash sensei means teacher ash.

  • Robb J.

    Oh cheah…and for the American names: Smith, Johnson, and…Miller?

  • Anthony

    Yamada, Tanaka, Takahashi. Final Answer.

  • Josha Shibata

    BTW my father (Japanese first generation) believes the answer is Suzuki, Tanaka and Saito.

  • Yuri Ryuu

    It’s Takahashi, Suzuki, Saito.

  • よみき好き


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