Japanese with common last name Yoda denied Facebook account

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Japanese author/translator Hiroko Yoda was having trouble signing up for a Facebook account. Every time she tried registering with her real full name, she got an error message. She suspected that it might be because of her last name was Yoda, so she tried spelling it slightly differently–Youda, Yohda, Yooda. No problem at all. When she e-mailed FB explaining her situation, she got this reply:

Facebook blocks the registration of a number of names that are frequently abused on the site. The name "Yoda," also being the name of a popular Star Wars character, is on this list of blocked names. I apologize again for the inconvenience. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
Hiroko explains her constant struggle with her last name in a blog post titled Life as Yoda:
I'm a Japanese woman, and my last name really is Yoda. It's a common family name in Japan. "Yoda" the Jedi Master is actually pronounced with a long "o" in Japanese, which makes it different-sounding enough that the connection only becomes apparent when you write out my name in English letters instead of kanji characters... People think I changed my name because I'm a crazy Star Wars fan, or that I'm just kidding around. Even people who know I'm not making it up are always giving me Yoda trinkets and keychains and figures, so I had this little shrine to him going on for a while.
Rumor has it that George Lucas named the Jedi Master after a Japanese film director he met in Tokyo. Still, Hiroko Yoda always triggers a good laugh when she comes stateside and introduces herself to people. Then again, people never forget her name. "I guess it's a double-edged...lightsaber? Ha ha," she says. Image by barron via Flickr (Thanks, Baker!)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

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