Rare family names

Neat article in The Taipei Times a couple of weeks ago about a man whose hobby is collecting documentary evidence of people with rare family names.

Some of the rare surnames Kuo has collected include Hu (虎, tiger), Yi (蟻, ant), Shui (水, water), Yun (雲, cloud), Suo (鎖, lock), Dan (但, but) and Mai (買, buy).

They also list Yao (要) Pang (逄) and Tse (策)as examples, although his total list consists of over 200. I don’t believe I have ever seen any of these used before, except for Yi (蟻, ant) although I can’t recall where that was.

Yesterday I met a Japanese girl with the family name of 鎹 (Kasugai), which is a kind of metal clamp or staple used for fastening two pieces of wood together in carpentry. Most of the Japanese people around had also never seen the name before, and many (in a group of grad students) couldn’t even read it, and the Chinese guy around also couldn’t.

3 thoughts on “Rare family names”

  1. Kasugai is so much more common as 春日井 or a variant thereof… must be annoying to be asked how your name is read every time when there’s no furigana involved.

  2. I used to process tax checks for a bank that was subcontracted to do so by various local governments. Got lots of awesome names but god dammit they all escape me now.

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