20 Common Okinawan Family Names

Okinawa Family Names

Here are the most common Okinawan family names to check out!

Unveiling Okinawan identity! Dive into the world of common Okinawan family names. We’ll explore their origins, unique pronunciations, and what they reveal about Okinawa’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Most Common Okinawan Last Names

Uechi 上地

If the family is of Okinawan descent, “Uechi” most likely refers to the Uechi-Ryū style of karate. This traditional martial art was founded by Master Kanryo Uechi in the early 20th century and is known for its powerful strikes and unique techniques.

It can also mean “small rice field”.

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 It could also be a toponymic name, meaning it originated from a place called Uechi in Okinawa.

While less common, “Uechi” could also be a Japanese family name with various meanings depending on the kanji characters used. Some potential meanings include “distant pond,” “branch pond,” or “inner pond.”

In rare cases, “Uechi” could also be a family name from another country or region with its own unique meaning.

Higa 比嘉 

“Higa” is probably the most common Okinawa family name. It refers to the direction east. It is believed in Okinawa that the kingdom of God is in the east, hence the east direction is considered sacred. So “Higa” is often used as a family name.

Okinawan Family Names

Yamashiro 山城

This Okinawa family name is based on Yamashiro, which is a place in Uruma City in Okinawa. The name also contains the kanji for mountain. Yamashiro is one of the most common Okinawa family names.

Taira 平良

There are many different stories that revolve around this surname. One of them is that “Taira” is named after a place from the Ryukyu period. Another one is that the name is a character from the local dialect that means flat and. However, there is no way of being certain that these are true.


Tamashiro, Tamaki 玉城

Also referred to as Tamaki sometimes, Tamashiro is named after a place from the Ryukyu kingdom. It means a valuable and precious piece of stone. 

Kinjō 金城

Previously called kane-gusuku, Kinjo is quite common in Okinawa. Gusuku means castle and 金 means gold. The name is a beautiful representation of something valuable.

okinawan first names,

Uehara 上原

Originally called “I-baru”, Uehara is named after a place that went by the same name in the Ryukyu period. The name literally means a field in the higher part of town. 

Ōshiro 大城

The name “Oshiro” means big castle. It is very common for names in Okinawa to have “城” in them, which means castle. This is because, during the Ryukyu period, Okinawa was home to many castle ruins. It is believed that people took their names from places that had these ruins. 

Arakaki, Aragaki, Shinoaki 新垣

Like most other Okinawa surnames, this name is based on the Arakaki Village, from the Ryukyu kingdom. It contains the kanji which represents new and fence. 

Shimabukuro, Shimabuku 島袋

This is another name based on a place from the Ryukyu kingdom. Shimabukuro is the more common pronunciation used for this surname and 島 means island and 袋 means bag. 

Miyagi 宮城

The previous name used was Nā-gusuku, but now Miyagi is common. It is based on the name of a place from the Ryukyu kingdom. 宮 means a large house where a person of high status resides.

Most Common Okinawa Family Names

Gushiken 具志堅

This is a surname that is common among the bureaucrat families of Okinawa. It means strong-willed. It is believed that many families that carry this surname moved to Hawaii, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and California. 

Hagihara 萩原

Hagihwara is common in Tokyo as well as in Okinawa. It means Japanese clover field and is also pronounced as Hagiwara.

Kaneko 金児

This family name can be found in Okinawa as well as in Tokyo. It means golden child, in reference to gold and iron ore dust that is found in streams.

Kita 木田, 喜多

The meaning of this family changes with its various written forms. Some of its popular meanings are ‘north field of trees’ and ‘many happiness’. Kita is often heard of in western Japan and Okinawa.

female okinawa names

Nakayama 中山

Like the previous family name, Nakayama is common in Okinawa and western Japan. It means central mountain.

Nishimura 西村

It means western village. This family name is common in northeastern Japan and Okinawa.

Nomura 野村, 埜村

Commonly found in western Japan and Okinawa, this surname means ‘village in the field’, ‘field village’, or ‘wilderness village’. 

Omori 大盛

Omori means a large grove and is frequently seen in eastern Japan and Okinawa.

Takayama 高山

Named after a city in the mountains of Hida, this family name means high mountains. It is often seen in Okinawa and western Japan.

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