If you met a Japanese person whose’s name was Honda or Kawasaki or Suzuki, you might smirk a little to yourself, naturally thinking of the famous Japanese brand that happens to share their name. (Whenever my wife’s cousin Akira is in town I go drinking with him because damn, his frigging name is Akira.) It works the same way in Japan, too: if you have a name that the Japanese already associate with something famous, they might be amused when they meet you. If your name is Jason or Freddie, for example, Japanese people might think of the killers from the famous Hollywood films, and anyone with the last name of McDonald will likely be asked, “Do you eat a lot of hamburgers?” I’m told that names like Ken and Bob remind Japanese people of the first English textbooks they used back in junior high school, just like Dick and Jane for people of my generation. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry happens to share a family name with the most famous gaijin in the history of Japan, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and when Japanese people see news reports of Perry the candidate they imagine the famous “Black Ships” (kurofune) that forced Japan to open her ports to trade with the outside world and ushered in the era of modern Japan.
Yes, Japan has made “Black Ships” Hello Kitty.