Suzuki (鈴木) is the second most common family name
). There are prominent Suzukis all over modern Japanese history: people like baseball star Ichiro Suzuki
, prime ministers Suzuki Kantaro
and Suzuki Zenko
, and Zen
master Shunryu Suzuki
. However, you don't see many Suzukis in Japanese history until the late 1800's. There's a reason for this.
The name consists of the characters for "bell" (suzu) and "tree" (ki). After the opening of Japan in the mid-1850's, commoners began to adopt family names at the urging of the government. Of course, most people had no clue what to use for their family name, so they tended to see what their neighbors were doing.
Suzuki became a popular last name because it referred to a staple of Japanese agricultural life. In the olden days of rice farming, the farmer would place a long stick in the middle of the paddy, with a pair of jingle bells on top (a Shinto thing that I don't understand too well, myself). So, many families in the countryside adopted the name to refer to their livelihood (or just because they thought it sounded cool).
As a result, there are now a ton of Suzukis in Japan, coming from a wide array of bloodlines that don't necessarily meet.
Source: Talking about Japan
, Kodansha, 2000. ISBN 4770025688