Why do the Toyota car company and the Toyoda family that founded it have different names? It’s not because of transliteration magic exactly: it’s because the company changed the characters that form its name in order to have a luckier number of brush strokes, and aid in their quest for world vehicular domination. Or something.
The Washington Post spoke to some Japanese language experts in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Writing “Toyoda” in Japanese requires 10 brush strokes, explains John R. Malott, president of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, but writing “Toyota” requires eight.
While “8” is considered an auspicious number, “10” is not, said Malott, who visited with the company during his years as a State Department official. “Ten” consists of two strokes crossed against each other and resembles the “plus” symbol, or even a crossroads or an uncertain path. Not a good omen for a company.
“It’s a very Japanese way of thinking,” Malott said.
Why the car company is named Toyota, not Toyoda [Washington Post]