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Hirokazu Tanaka: One Name, Many Different People

Hirokazu Tanaka [ja] was 25 years old when he stumbled upon a news clipping that another Hirokazu Tanaka was drafted as a professional baseball player in 1994. This announcement, in which a prominent baseball manager read the shared name aloud, made the long-time baseball fan feel like a dream had come true.

Since then, he embarked on a journey to find other people named Hirokazu Tanaka, learning about the different lives of people sharing the same name. The coincidence continues to fascinate him and bother him. Once, he almost failed to have a loan application approved because the bank was not able to distinguish him from another Hirokazu Tanaka who had bad credit history and the same birthday.

Image of some Hirokazu Tanaka,

Image of some Hirokazu Tanaka, screenshot from http://www.tanakahirokazu.com/

Through the Internet, Hirokazu Tanaka continued to meet other Hirokazu Tanakas. After 20 years, there are 104 Hirokazu Tanakas recorded by the organizer of this Hirokazu Tanaka movement [ja]. Fourteen Hirokazu Tanakas with completely different job titles ranging from apple farmer, graphic designer, composer, and engineer, appear in the book titled “Mr. Hirokazu Tanaka” [ja], literally, a compilation of Hirokazu Tanakas. 

Organizer Hirokazu Tanaka continues to meet more Hirokazu Tanakas, hoping one day to beat the number of people named “Jim Smith“, one of the most common name in English speaking countries.

Tanaka is Japan's fourth most common last name. As far as the author of this post knows, she is not related to organizer Hirokazu Tanaka.

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