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Four Names

I wrote about a Swedish guest in my last posting, and I heard from him later that he had completed the pilgrimage! Also, his scroll will be sent to his place in Sweden by post, so he can travel home without having to carry it with him.

In my last posting, I mainly wrote about history, but this time I'm writing about his names.

I've previously written about Thai and Korean guests' names, which taught me that in those countries women can keep their maiden name after they get married.

This Swede, on the other hand, has four names.

Most Japanese people have two names: family name and his/her own name.

He has his first name, middle name, and two surnames. When I asked about this, he said that they're his mother's surname and his father's. On hearing that, I remembered Spanish speaking countries' names. In those countries, they keep both their mother's surname and their father's surname until they get married, so they have three names including their first name, four names if they have a middle name. For example, Picasso the painter has numerous number of names for some reason. I wonder how many...

However, when I said 'Oh, just like Spanish?', his reply was 'No'.

The fact that one of the names was his mother's surname and one of the others was his father's surname was the same as Spanish, but he has both of their names because they are not married! And in Sweden, it's not unusual to live together or have kids and raise them without getting married, he explained as if nothing special. I really liked to hear this because I had always been skeptical about the system of marriage myself. Nice one, Sweden! It's OK if you get married or live together without. It seemed like they respect free will of individuals.





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