After years of embarrassment, Oji-sama Akaike finally has a new name.

On the last day of February, Japanese Twitter user @akaike_hardtype turned 18, and he got a very special present. It didn’t come from a family member or friend, though. This present came from the municipal government of Kofu, the capital city of Yamanashi Prefecture.

See, Akaike is indeed @akaike_hardtype’s family name, but his given name obviously isn’t “Hardtype.” Somehow, the name his parents gave him was even more awkward: Oji-sama, which means “his lordship the prince” in Japanese.

To clarify, oji itself is the Japanese word for “prince,” which would be an embarrassing enough name to have in the first place. But Akaike’s legal name, Oji-sama, included the extra-deferential honorific “-sama.” That meant that, for example, when he got letters in the mail, they were addressed to “Oji-sama-sama.”

The story of how Akaike got saddled with that name is a sad one too. When he was born, his mom decided to name him Oji-sama despite his dad’s objection to the extremely flowery name. His parents later divorced, and Akaike grew up being laughed at when he had to introduce himself, and also dealing with the stigma that he must be an eccentric attention-seeker or have some sort of superiority complex because of his aristocratic name.

Finally, he decided that he’d had enough, and submitted an application to legally change his name, on the basis that it was unusual enough to be affecting his quality of life. On March 5, he got a response from the Kofu Family Court system, approving his request to cast off Oji-sama, and so he’s now Hajime Akaike.

“Yessss!!!!! Got permission to change my name!!!!!!!!” tweeted Akaike excitedly, along with a snapshot of his paperwork.

Akaike says that he’s now largely estranged from his mother, who remarried following her divorce from his father and has subsequently left her second husband. However, they have at least enough contact that she knows about his name change, and is upset that he’s gotten rid of the moniker she chose for him. His father, on the other hand, is happy to accept his son’s desire for a less ostentatious name, as are many online commenters, who offered congratulations and comments such as:

“Congratulations, and nice to meet you, Hajime!”
“What a moving story. You really had to fight hard for this.”
“Wait, you mom didn’t just name you ‘Prince,’ but ‘His Lordship, the Prince?’”
“We don’t know each other, but I also grew up in Yamanashi, and I’d heard stories about you [because of your name] since elementary school, so I’m glad you were able to change your name to one you want instead.”

At the same time, Akaike isn’t so upset over his previous name that he’s going to force friends to stop using it, as he told at least one pre-existing Twitter acquaintance “You can keep calling me Oji if you like.” He also points out that individuals can petition to change their name from the age of 15 in Japan (where legal adulthood begins at 20), and that while he’s apparently the first person in Yamanashi to be granted permission due to his given name being embarrassing, now that there’s a legal precedent, it should be easier for others to do the same.

Oh, and as for the meaning of his new name, Hajime? Written with the kanji 肇, it means “beginning,” with a secondary meaning of “correction.” Sounds like the perfect choice for someone who didn’t like the name that was forced on him as a child, and wants to make a fresh start as he enters adulthood.

Source: Twitter/@akaike_hardtype via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s glad his then-seven-year-old brother, who named him, picked out a normal-sounding name.