The Name Game

69 Popular Japanese Last Names That Will Have You On The Next Flight To Tokyo

どういたしまして (“You’re welcome.”)

by Laura Grainger
Originally Published: 
japanese last names and meaning
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Last names are a great way to connect with our roots. Japanese last names show a particularly strong connection to the country’s breathtaking nature and clan history. In ancient Japan, clans were organized by the Kabane system, which determined each clan’s political and social standing. As clans began to devolve into individual households, the Kabane system went out of use, but the origins of many modern Japanese last names can be traced to it. If you’re searching for the most popular Japanese last names and their meanings you are not alone. According to the latest search data available, this query is searched for nearly 60,500 times a month.

We don’t blame you. Japan is one of the most beautiful and ancient places in the world. It’s also one of the most innovative and has a beyond-the-curve culture. It’s wonderfully futuristic (have you seen Tokyo? It’s like what the year 3000 will look like) but still very connected to its roots and cultural goals and beliefs. In Japan, a strong work ethic, perseverance, and respect for your elders are core values to their society. It is also important to understand and play your role in the family and be able to work successfully in a group and with others.

Japan has style and grace and is one of those rare places that straddle both the future and classical history. Both are absolutely breathtaking, and so are their last names.

Depending on the characters used to spell them, names can have multiple meanings. Here, we’ve compiled a list of popular Japanese last names that breaks down each name’s Japanese spelling and the meaning behind it.

If you’re interested in the last names and meanings of other countries, check out our package on last names from around the world. See how many you recognize: Irish, French, Russian, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, Hawaiian, Jewish, British, and Korean last names, among others.

RELATED: First Names That Come From Last Names

Common Japanese Last Names

1. Abe

Japanese spelling: 阿部, 安倍, 安部, or 阿倍

Meaning: A means peace while be means multiple times.

2. Beppu

Japanese spelling: 別府

Meaning: Separate borough.

3. Kiyama

Japanese spelling: 木山, 喜山

Meaning: Tree mountain.

4. Nakaya

Japanese spelling: 仲谷, 中谷 or 中矢

Meaning: Between the valley, in the center of the valley, or arrow in the center.

5. Aoki

Japanese spelling: 青木

Meaning: Blue tree.

6. Sakai

Japanese spelling: 境

Meaning: Border or territory.

7. Wakabayashi

Japanese spelling: 若林

Meaning: Young forest.

8. Takao

Japanese spelling: 高雄 or 高尾

Meaning: Bulky man or warrior.

9. Shima

Japanese spelling: 志麻 or 志摩

Meaning: Island.

10. Nishikawa

Japanese spelling: 西川

Meaning: Western river.

11. Masaki

Japanese spelling: 真崎

Meaning: Correct or tree.

12. Kato/Katō

Japanese spelling: 加藤

Meaning: Increase and wisteria. Wisteria are blue and purple flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. They are a vining plant and native to China, Korea, and Japan.

13. Hamasaki

Japanese spelling: 浜崎

Meaning: Beach peninsula.

14. Fujii

Japanese spelling: 藤井

Meaning: Well of wisteria.

15. Chiba

Japanese spelling: 千葉

Meaning: Thousand leaves.


16. Aikawa

Japanese spelling: 相河

Meaning: Ai means together or mutual, while kawa means river.

17. Ebina

Japanese spelling: 蝦名

Meaning: Shrimp and distinguished.

18. Goda/Gōda

Japanese spelling: 合田 or 郷田

Meaning: Rice paddy or village rice paddy.

19. Hagimoto

Japanese spelling: 萩本

Meaning: Bush clover and book/present.

20. Sawai

Japanese spelling: 沢井

Meaning: Swamp well.

21. Suzuki

Japanese spelling: 鈴木

Meaning: Bell wood.

22. Kutsuki

Japanese spelling: 朽木

Meaning: Decayed/rotted tree.

23. Doi

Japanese spelling: 土井, 土居, 土肥

Meaning: Earth town, earth residence, or earth fertilizer.

24. Fueki

Japanese spelling: 笛木

Meaning: Wooden flute/pipe.

25. Tachi

Japanese spelling: 舘 or 立

Meaning: Palace or rise.

26. Baishō

Japanese spelling: 倍賞

Meaning: Double prize.

27. Honda

Japanese spelling: 本田, 本多 or 誉田

Meaning: Root rice field, origin rice field, or honor rice field.

28. Ishioka

Japanese spelling: 石岡

Meaning: Stone mount/stone hill.

29. Kikumoto

Japanese spelling: 菊本

Meaning: Chrysanthemum book.

30. Okazaki

Japanese spelling: 岡崎

Meaning: Split rock.

31. Ito

Japanese spelling: 伊藤

Meaning: This, or that one.

32. Saito

Japanese spelling: 斉藤

Meaning: Purity and worship.

33. Tanaka

Japanese spelling: 田中

Meaning: Center of the rice paddy.

34. Yamamoto

Japanese spelling: 山本

Meaning: Base of the mountain.

35. Yamaguchi

Japanese spelling: 山口

Meaning: The mouth of the mountain.

36. Yoshino

Japanese spelling: 吉野

Meaning: Lucky field.

37. Yogi

Japanese spelling: ヨギ

Meaning: Person who practices yoga.

38. Yoshikawa

Japanese spelling: 吉川

Meaning: Lucky river.

39. Abiko

Japanese spelling: アビコ

Meaning: My grandson.

40. Agawa

Japanese spelling: 誘拐された

Meaning: The corner of a river or a stream.

41. Bando

Japanese spelling: 発表

Meaning: East of the slope.

42. Sato

Japanese spelling: 佐藤

Meaning: Sugar.

43. Takahashi

Japanese spelling: 高橋

Meaning: High bridge.

44. Watanabe

Japanese spelling: 渡辺

Meaning: Patryonic name derived from the Watanabe clan.

45. Kobayashi

Japanese spelling: 小林

Meaning: Small forest.

46. Ando

Japanese spelling: 安藤 or 安東

Meaning: Peaceful wisteria, peaceful east or pacify the east.

47. Ageda

Japanese spelling: 上田

Meaning: Upper rice field.

48. Baba

Japanese spelling: ばば

Meaning: Horse-riding ground or race track.

49. Bushida

Japanese spelling: ぶしだ

Meaning: A Samurai, warrior, or warrior way.

50. Chikafuji

Japanese spelling: ちかふじ

Meaning: Near the wisteria.

51. Chinen

Japanese spelling: 知念

Meaning: Feelings or a thousand years.

52. Daigo

Japanese spelling: 大吾

Meaning: Great realization or enlightenment.

53. Eguchi

Japanese spelling: 江口

Meaning: The mouth of the river.

54. Endo/Endoh/Endou

Japanese spelling: 遠藤

Meaning: A distant wisteria.

55. Fukuda

Japanese spelling: 福田

Meaning: Lucky rice field, blessed rice paddy, or hope.

56. Fukushima

Japanese spelling: 福島

Meaning: Fortune or blessed island.

57. Furukawa

Japanese spelling: 古川 or 古河

Meaning: Old river.

58. Gato

Japanese spelling: ガト

Meaning: Behind wisteria.

59. Nakamura

Japanese spelling: 中村

Meaning: Middle village.

60. Yoshida

Japanese spelling: 吉田

Meaning: Lucky ricefield.

61. Yamada

Japanese spelling: 山田

Meaning: Mountain field or mountain rice paddy.

62. Sasaki

Japanese spelling: 佐々木

Meaning: Assistant, help.

63. Matsumoto

Japanese spelling: 松本

Meaning: Base of the pine tree.

64. Inoue

Japanese spelling: 井上

Meaning: Above a well.

65. Kimura

Japanese spelling: 木村

Meaning: Tree village.

66. Arai

Japanese spelling: 新井

Meaning: New residence.

67. Sugimoto

Japanese spelling: 杉本

Meaning: One who lives beneath the cedars.

68. Fukumoto

Japanese spelling: 福本

Meaning: Blessed origin.

69. Furuta

Japanese spelling: フルタ

Meaning: Old rice paddy.

Japanese Proverbs

Each culture has its own sayings. In addition to what you can learn from Japanese names, there’s a wealth of wisdom you can pick up from Japanese phrases as well.

  • “One’s act, one’s profit.”
  • “Ten men, ten colors.”
  • “Wake from death and return to life.”
  • “Pulling water to my own rice paddy.”
  • “Evil cause, evil effect.”
  • “The nail that sticks out is struck.”
  • “Dumplings over flowers.”
  • “Not knowing is Buddha.”
  • “It’s easier to give birth than to think about it.”

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