IMG_5897

Whereas a lot of last names in English come from professions, such as Smith, Hunter, and Baker, you don’t find a lot of work-related ones in Japan. Generally, Japanese family names have some sort of connection to the natural environment, such as Ogawa (“Small River”), Yamada (“Mountain Field”), or Takeoka (“Bamboo Hill”).

You could debate whether or not this is the result of a deep-rooted Japanese respect for nature, or simply that for centuries the feudal system forced the vast majority of the population into agriculture. Regardless of the reason, there’s no denying the linguistic phenomenon, as proven by the signatures on this invoice from what appears to be the most ecologically oriented company in Japan, at least in terms of names.

Instead of signing their names on documents, Japanese businesspeople usually stamp their personal seal onto the paper. In this invoice, for example, each of those red circles indicates a different person, with his or her last name inside.

MH 1

If you haven’t spent much time studying Japanese, you might be rubbing your eyes and thinking, “My God is that a tough language. All those names look the same!” And in this case, you’d have a point, as almost all of those kanji characters contain this little guy.

MH 2

By itself, that’s the kanji ki, meaning tree. Double it up, though, and you get hayashi, which is the family name stamped in the top right.

MH 3

Stick the kanji 小, meaning “small,” in front, and you get Kobayashi, another common name which also shows up on the invoice.

MH 4

And finally, if you put three ki trees in a triangle formation, you get Mori, which means “forest” and is, you guessed it, the last name stamped on the document.

MH 5

On the day this invoice went out, their coworkers Morita (“Forest Field”), Morimoto (“From the Forest”), Takabayashi (“High Woods”), and Kihara (“Field of Trees”) must have been sick at home. We hope they all feel better and are back soon in the office, which we’re assuming is completely packed with potted plants.

Source: Hamster Sokuho
Top image: Hamster Sokuho
Insert images: RocketNews24, Hamster Sokuho (edited by RocketNews24)