List of Japanese Surname 200+ Origin and Meanings

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Looking for a list of Japanese surnames? What are the most common Japanese surnames? Do you know the meaning of the main surnames? Why do Japanese people usually have only two names? Why does the Surname come first in Japan? These and other questions will be answered in this article.

The History of Japanese Surnames

Do you know the history of Japanese surnames? Not long ago in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), ordinary people had no surnames. Only people of positions like nobility, artists and heads of regional clans.

Sometimes warriors, doctors, monks and merchants got a surname by buying. Ordinary people were identified by profession or location, merchants used to use their store name as identification or a surname.

Sobrenomes japoneses - como surgiu e quais os mais comuns

how did people differ from each other? 

If in a city 2 people are called Souta, whoever lived on the mountain ended up being called Yamamoto no Souta which literally means Souta of the foot of the mountain 山本 (foot of the mountain). This is another reason why the surname comes before the first name.

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For this reason, Japanese names and surnames end up being simple and having common meanings that identify the personality, family origin, place they lived, their social class and history.

In addition, ideograms help Japanese names to be more complex, allowing for various ways to read an ideogram and write using other ideograms. Not to mention that a name can have several meanings thanks to kanji.

Research shows that there are between 100,000 to 300,000 surnames in Japan, making it one of the countries with the highest number of surnames in the world. This even seems ironic, because the Japanese has few syllables compared to other languages.

Examples of origins of Japanese surnames

As mentioned, many Japanese surnames referred to specific places or characteristics about a particular family, see some popular examples below:

  • Derived from the name of the place - Watanabe, Takahashi, Sasaki, Ishikawa, Hasegawa, Miura, Chiba ..;
  • Derived from topography and landscape - Yamamoto, Yamada, Mori, Ikeda ..;
  • Derived from the orientation or position relationship - Minami, Kita, Tatsumi ..;
  • Derived from occupation - Hattori, Shoji, Tokairin, Inukai, Ukai, Kobun ..;
Sobrenomes japoneses - como surgiu e quais os mais comuns

Myouji - Japanese family name

Japanese surnames or family names are called myouji [名字 or 苗字] sometimes called know [姓]. Formerly the Japanese surname was called naazana [名字], here are some related words that can help increase your Japanese vocabulary:

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JapaneseRomajiMeaning
同姓douseiSame surname
元姓genseiAbout previous, original name
他姓ok I knowAnother surname
異姓I knowDifferent surname
宮号miyagouLast name Imperial
漢姓kanseiChinese surname
名前namaeFirst name
ラストネームrasutoneemu Last Name
家名KameiFamily name, home

Japan's most common surnames

The most common surname in Japan is Satou, more than 1,928,000 people bear this surname. Satou is mainly written with the ideograms [佐藤] which together mean the field of wisteria. Below you can see a list of the 10 most common surnames from all over Japan, the number of people who have that surname and their meaning.

 SurnamePopulationIdeogramMeaning
1Satou 1.928.000佐藤Wisteria field
2Suzuki 1.707.000鈴木Bell Tree
3Takahashi 1.416.000高橋Long Bridge
4Tanaka 1.336.000田中In the middle of the rice field
5Watanabe 1.134.000渡辺 / 渡邊Go over
6Itou 1.080.000伊藤Ise Wisteria
7Yamamoto 1.077.000山本Mountain Person
8Nakamura 1.059.000中村Inside the village
9Kobayashi 1.019.000小林Small forest
10Saitou 980.000斉藤 / 斎藤Affectionate Wisteria.

The first ideogram of the name Saitou (斉) can be used to refer to a meal made by monks and priests. It also conveys an image of purity and shared worship.

It is worth remembering the Japanese names they usually represent their meaning to the contrary. The ideograms can be written in the order Alto (高) Ponte (橋) but they mean Ponte Alta (or long). And we cannot always take the literal meaning of the ideogram.

Sobrenomes japoneses - como surgiu e quais os mais comuns

List with 200 common surnames from Japan

Below we will leave a short list with the 200 most common names in the Japanese language. This list was shared by Studiare Giapponese and is in alphabetical order.

KanjiRomajiMeaning
阿部AbePleasant Group
秋山AkiyamaAutumn Mountain
安藤WalkedQuiet Wisteria
青木AokiGreen Tree
青山AoyamaBlue / green mountain
新井荒井AraiNew Well New Residence
荒木ArakiWild Tree
浅野淺野AsanoShallow Plain
馬場NannyRiding Land
千葉ChibaA thousand sheets
遠藤EndouAway from Wisteria
藤井FujiiWisteria Well
藤本FujimotoOrigin of Wisteria
藤田FujitaWisteria Plantation
藤原FujiwaraWisteria Field
福田FukudaLucky Rice
福井FukuiGood Luck Well
福島FukushimaBoa Sorte Island
古川FurukawaOld River
後藤GotouBehind Wisteria
萩原HagiwaraPlain of Clovers
浜田HamadaBeach rice field
HaraField
原田HaradaField Plantation
長谷川HasegawaLong river flowing through the valley
橋本HashimotoBridge Base / Origin
服部HattoriAlliance Clothes
早川HayakawaRio Rápido
HayashiGrove
樋口HiguchiWater spout
平井HiraiWell Placid
平野HiranoFlat Field
平田HirataPacific Rice Field
広瀬廣瀬HiroseWide and shallow
本田HondaOriginal rice field
本間HonmaName of a clan that ruled Sado province
HoriMoat
星野HoshinoStar Field
市川IchikawaCity river
五十嵐IgarashiFifty Storms
飯田IidaCooked Rice Husk
池田IkedaLake Plantation
今井ImaiCurrent Well
井上InoueOver the Well
石橋IshibashiStone Bridge
石田IshidaStony Plantation
石原IshiharaRocky Plain
石井IshiiStone Well
石川IshikawaStony River
伊藤ItouIse Wisteria (Mie City)
岩本IwamotoRock Base
岩崎IwasakiCliff End
岩田IwataRocky Rice Plantation
鎌田KamataSickle Rice Field
金子KanekoLucky Son
片山KatayamaSingle Mountain
加藤KatouWisteria of Kaga (Old name of Ishikawa)
川口KawaguchiRiver Entrance
川上KawakamiAbove the river
川村KawamuraRiver Village
川波KawanamiRiver wave
川崎KawasakiEnd of the River
菊地菊池KikuchiChrysanthemum LandChrysanthemum Pond
木村KimuraPopulated with Trees
木下KinoshitaUnder the Tree
北村KitamuraNorthern Village
小林KobayashiSmall Grove
小池KoikeSmall lake
小島KojimaLittle island
小松KomatsuSmall pine tree
近藤KondouNear Wisteria
小西KonishiLittle West
河野Kouno (Kawano)River with plain
小山KoyamaLittle Mountain
久保KuboSlope terrain
久保田KubotaRice paddy with unevenness
工藤KudouSkillful Wisteria
熊谷KumagaiBear Valley
栗原KuriharaCastanheiras Plain
黒田KurodaBlack Rice Plantation
前田MaedaIn front of the rice field
丸山MaruyamaRound Mountain
増田MasudaExpanded Plantation
松原MatsubaraPlain of the Pines
松田MatsudaRice paddy with pine
松井MatsuiPine Well
松本MatsumotoPine Base
松村MatsumuraPinheiros Village
松尾MatsuoPine Tail
松岡MatsuokaHill of Pines
松下MatsushitaUnder the pine tree
松浦MatsuuraPinheiros Bay
MinamiSouth
三浦MiuraThree Bays
三宅MiyakeThree Houses
宮本MiyamotoOrigin of the Temple / Palace
宮田MiyataShrine rice plantation
宮崎MiyazakiEnd of Temple / Palace
水野MizunoWater Field
望月MochizukiFull moon
MoriGrove
森本MorimotoBase of the Forest
森田MoritaPlantation in the Woods
村上Murakamiover the village
村田MurataVillage Plantation
長井永井NagaiGood long forever
長田永田NagataLong rice field
内藤NaitouInterior Wisteria
中川NakagawaCentral River
中島NakajimaNakashimaCentral Island
中村NakamuraMiddle of the village
中西NakanishiMidwest
中野NakanoCentral Field
中田NakataNakadaCentral rice paddy
中山NakayamaInside the Mountain
成田NaritaRice Field Formation
西田NishidaWest rice paddy
西川NishikawaRio do Oeste
西村NishimuraWestern Village
西山NishiyamaWest Mountain
西沢NishizawaSwamp of the West
野田NodaRice field in the field
野口NoguchiField Entrance
野村NomuraVillage of Campo
小田OdaSmall Rice Plantation
小川Ogawasmall river
岡田OkadaColina Rice
岡本OkamotoBase of the Hill
岡崎OkazakiCape Hill
奥村OkumuraIsolated Village
小野OnoSmall Field
大橋OohashiGreat Bridge
大石OoishiLarge Stone
大久保OokuboLarge hollow
大森OomoriBig help
大西OonishiGreat West
大野OonoGreat Plain
大沢大澤OosawaGreat Swamp
大島OoshimaBig Island
太田OotaFertile Rice Field
大谷OotaniGreat Valley
大塚OotsukaGreat Ancient Tomb
尾崎OzakiCable end
小沢小澤OzawaSmall Swamp
斎藤齋藤SaitouAffectionate Wisteria
斎藤 / 齋藤SaitouAffectionate Wisteria
酒井SakaiSake pit
坂本SakamotoBottom of the descent
桜井櫻井SakuraiCherry well
佐野SanoSmall Field
佐々木SasakiSupport Tree
佐藤SatouWisteria Field
沢田SawadaSwamp Rice Plantation
関 / 關SekiBarrier / Gate
柴田ShibataStickwood Plantation
島田ShimadaIsland Plantation
清水ShimizuPure water
篠原ShinoharaBamboo grass plain
菅原SugawaraJunça Field
杉本SugimotoOrigin of Cedar
杉山SugiyamaCedar Mountain
須藤SutouSudouMandatory Wisteria
鈴木SuzukiBells tree
田口TaguchiEntrance to the Rice Field
高田TakadaTakataHigh Plantation
高木TakagiTall Tree
高橋TakahashiHigh bridge
高野TakanoCampo Alto
高山TakayamaHigh mountain
武田TakedaWarrior rice paddy
竹内TakeuchiInside Bambuzal
田村TamuraPopulated with rice field
田辺田邊TanabeNext to the rice plantation
田中TanakaMiddle of rice field
谷口TaniguchiOpening of the Valley
土屋TsuchiyaClay House
TsujiCrossroads (Crossroads)
内田UchidaInside the Plantation
内山UchiyamaMountain inland
上田UedaUetaTop / top planting
上野UenoOver the Plain
和田WadaHarmonious Plantation
渡辺WatanabeCross by the edge
山田YamadaMountain Rice Field
山口YamaguchiOpening to the Mountain
山本YamamotoMountain base
山中YamanakaMountain Center
山下YamashitaUnder the Mountain
山内YamauchiInside the Mountain
山崎YamazakiYamasakiMountain End
矢野YanoEighth Field
安田YasudaCheap Rice Paddies
横田YokotaRice Field Next
横山YokoyamaBeside the Mountain
吉田YoshidaAuspicious Plantation
吉川YoshikawaAuspicious River
吉村YoshimuraAuspicious Village
吉岡YoshiokaAuspicious Hill

How can I find out the meaning of my name?

We recommend taking an online dictionary like jisho and research the various meanings of each ideogram and try to create a relationship between the 2. Remember that Japanese names can have different pronunciations and ideograms, so don't get attached to a list without knowing how to spell your name.

If you want to go deeper into Japanese names, we recommend a JBC Japanese Names Dictionary (click for details). Let's leave a video explaining how you can discover for yourself the meaning of Japanese names:

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