Toyoda Changed to Toyota: Why the Name Change?

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Review of: Toyoda Changed to Toyota

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On August 20, 2014
Last modified:October 1, 2014


Toyoda Changed to Toyota: Why the Name Change? is a great article that explains why the auto maker changed its name. Read the history and learn of why.

Ever wonder why Toyoda was changed to Toyota?

Most people know that Toyota began as a company that manufactured looms – or, sewing machines. At that time, Toyota was knows as “Toyoda”, named after the founder, Sakichi Toyoda. It wasn’t until much later – 1936 to be exact – that Toyoda changed to Toyota. Most of us know this as fact, but few of us know why the name was changed. Keep reading to learn how.

Various sources tell a different story as to why the name was changed. According to the official Toyota explanation, the name was changed for 2 reasons:

1. Voiceless Consonants aren’t appealing

Apparently, in Japanese, the letter “D” in “Toyoda” is a voiceless consonant. This wasn’t viewed as appealing. A voiced consonant is preferred, so they chose to make it a “T”.

2. Jikaku and Good Luck

Jikaku is the practice of counting strokes in Kanji and Katakana. The number of strokes determine good and bad luck. “Toyota” has 8 strokes versus 10, and 8 is a number in Japan that is associated with good luck and fortune. So, the official record tells us that pretty much sealed the deal: change it from “D” to a “T”.

Toyoda Toyota
Kanji 卞回と回句丹 卞回と回卞丹
Katakana トーヨーダー トーヨーター


But, there are objections to this reason. Some people believe that the number 8 in Japan isn’t a big deal; while in China it is important. It’s hard to verify either of these claims, but is one prevailing objection out there.

There are other accounts of the name change that point to other reasons such appealing to an international audiences and international acceptance.

But, I have another theory.

Reduce Waste in the Toyota Name

Maybe. Just maybe. What if the folks at Toyota fundamentally wanted to reduce the number of strokes, but yet maintain the “Toyoda” name. What if they chose to do that and eliminated 2 strokes – from 10 strokes to 8. What if?

10 strokes to 8 strokes = 20% Reduction in Strokes!

It’s a stretch. But, hey, this is my addition to the folklore that’s currently out there.

Here’s another newsflash item for you. Consider the current Toyota logo. Now look below – did you know that it spells T-O-Y-O-T-A right there in the logo? Yeah, I didn’t either.

toyota logo, lean manufacturing


  1. says

    When I was I in Japan, I heard they changed the name because Mr. Toyoda wanted the company to be distinguished from being just a family enterprise.

    I also heard the 8 stroke story. Today, when asked what a lucky number is, most Japanese say 7 – but I think that is a result of American influence. Back in the 1930s, they likely still thought 8 was lucky, as it is in China.

    I like your theory though- thanks for sharing.

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