My family name, “Toyao” (鳥屋尾), happens to be one of “quite many” unique names in Japan; according to one Internet account, there are about 500 people with this family name. I have come to understand that the name is found mostly in two specific areas: one in Shimane Prefecture where my father came from, and another in Mie Prefecture. Since I have no idea of how Toyaos in both areas are inter-related (I have no relatives in Mie Prefecture), I would like to call this a missing link.
One uncle of mine has taken an interest in searching for our family roots ever since he became retired and went back to his hometown in Shimane Prefecture. From him, I get information now and then: I’ve learnt about two mountains and a village, all named “Toyao”, which you can find on a map.
In 2008, I took my family and went to the city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture to attend an engagement ceremony for my younger son and his fiancé who came from Kanazawa. While we were there, we managed to visit the village called Toyao. Let me explain a little bit about the visit.
From the city center, it’s about 20kms due north east. Demographic information is as follows: 27 households with 83 people (as of June, 2012). It has the typical landscape for what you would find in a remote place: sparsely located houses, farm lands, surrounding forests.
The photo shows a bus stop sign（鳥屋尾）
and my family.
A road-side sign showing （鳥屋尾, but pronounced as Toriyao ).
My younger son, Kenji, is on the right (the tallest).
Surprisingly enough, there is a similar-looking village called “Kyouzu”(興津) only a few minutes drive from the village of Toyao; Kyouzu is the family name of my son’s fiance!
A road-side sign (興津).
So, we have found a close relationship between Toyao and Kyouzu in terms of both family names and names of places: definitely not a missing link. (Coming back to my uncle’s search, what has come up is more information on different Toyaos: simply put more missing links!)