Our reporter reveals his real name, but the bigger shock comes after.

Mr. Sato, SoraNews24’s ace Japanese-language reporter, is a man of mystery. Between his pole dancing skills, unexpectedly handsome looks, and twin brother, he never runs out of ways to surprise us.

But today, Mr. Sato gave us the biggest shock of all, when he told us:

“Actually, my last name isn’t Sato.”

Wait…what?!? At first, we thought we’d misheard him. After all, we only listen to about half of what he says, since sometimes when words are coming out of his mouth he’s trying to convince us to blast our testicles with cooling spray. So we asked him to repeat himself, and sure enough, he told us again “My last name isn’t Sato.”

Not pictured: Mr. Sato?

Thoroughly confused, we pulled out his original application to work for SoraNews24, which he submitted ten years ago, and written across the top was “Hidenori Sato.” But while that was accurate at the time, the situation has changed, as our reporter expanded on the revelation by telling us “The truth is my last name hasn’t been Sato since three years ago.”

To prove it, he pulled out his current driver’s license, and true to his word, the kanji characters for “Sato” (佐藤) aren’t anywhere to be found on the card.

So the question is, if Mr. Sato isn’t Mr. Sato, then just who is he?

He’s Mr. Yamashina.

▼ Hidenori Yamashina / 山科英典

But…why?!? Did he change his name as part of an attempt to cheat the fatal curse that was placed on him when he entered Japan’s “cave of death?” Did getting his bush trimmed at a fancy Tokyo salon have him feeling like such a new man that he needed a new name? Is it part of a strategy to circumvent his soft blacklisting at iPhone launch day events in Japan?

While we’d have believed any of those, Mr. Sato/Yamashina’s reason is actually so simple it’s shocking:

“I got married three years ago, and I decided to take my wife’s last name.”

Usually, marriages in Japan work like they do in the west, with the wife taking her husband’s surname. However, the opposite isn’t unheard of, especially if the woman getting married has no brothers and she and her parents want to keep their family name going for another generation.

As we mentioned above, our reporter already has a brother, and with Sato being the most common last name in Japan, he figured one less person in that club wouldn’t make a significant difference (though sadly, this means that his wife is not known as Mrs. Sato).

And so, since three years ago, he’s been Hidenori Yamashina in his private life. As a matter of fact, when he takes part in the All Japan Pole Dancing Championships this weekend, he’ll be competing under the name Yamashina as well.

In his professional life, though, online and in the office, he’s still Mr. Sato, and to be honest, after years of being known as “that weird dude from SoraNews24,” he’s really not all that hung up on names anyway. Because if a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, would a Sato by any other moniker shine any less crazily?

We think not.

Photos ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where his wife appreciates having his last name because it’s easy to write in katakana.

[ Read in Japanese ]