List of Japanese Surname Meanings

In Japan, a person's surname, or family name, comes before the given name. Most Japanese surnames are made up of two separate Chinese characters, called kanji. Many of these characters refer to things found in nature, such as geographical features. Japanese surnames often refer to clans or families who resided near such geographical features in ancient times.


The Japanese surname Akiyama means "autumn mountain" (taken from the Japanese "aki" for autumn and "yama" for mountain or hill). It also refers to a Japanese clan that lived during the 16th century in the Sengoku Period and to a village in the town of Yamanashi, which existed until 2005, when it merged with Uenohara.


The Japanese surname Fujimoto means "the base of Mount Fuji" (taken from the Japanese "fuji" for Mount Fuji and "moto" for base). This surname is commonly found in western Japan. People with the surname Fujimoto are usually descended from the Fujiwara clan.


The Japanese surname Fujioka means a person "living near Mount Fuji" (from the Japanese "fuji" for Mount Fuji). It also refers to a city in Gunma, Japan.


The Japanese surname Oshiro means "big castle," from the large castles of the former Okinawan kingdoms. In the United States, this surname ranks 9,791st out of a total of 88,799 Japanese surnames.


The Japanese surname Hashimoto means "base of bridge" (from the Japanese "hashi" for bridge and "moto" for base). Hashimoto also refers to an autoimmune disease in which the body's T-cells attack cells in the thyroid gland. This disease is named after the Japanese doctor who discovered it, Hakaru Hashimoto.


The Japanese surname Takahashi means "small bridge." It also refers to an ancient family of Kyushu island. It is one of the 10 most common surnames in Japan.


The Japanese surname Watanabe means "cross border" (from the Japanese "wata" for cross and "nabe" for bank or border). It is the fifth most common surname in Japan.

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Susan Maphis has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in travel, parenting and education, among other subjects. Her work has been published on various sites, including,,,, and Maphis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from West Chester University.