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“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.

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