"How do you do, my name is Saito Ichiro Sama-no-kami Minamoto-no-Ason Tadayoshi."

We can be grateful to the reformers of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) for cutting Japanese names down to size. Renaming the Japanese people was part and parcel of their overthrow of feudalism. The system currently in use — surname followed by personal name — comes so naturally to us we tend to forget its revolutionary impact. The way the Japanese identify themselves today would have shocked their ancestors.

The Mr. Saito introducing himself above is imaginary, but his name, long enough to overwhelm a modern meishi (business card), was typical in pre-Meiji samurai or upper-class peasant circles. (Yes, contrary to popular supposition, most commoners had full names, sometimes very imposing ones).