Top 10 Japanese Family Names that Foreigners Find Cool

  • このエントリーをはてなブックマークに追加

How does Japanese sound like in foreigners’ ears?

Speaking of Japanese family names, what came up to your mind first? Toyoda, Honda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi… (all brands names lol)

This article, I’m going to introduce the Japanese family names that foreigners find cool based on the discussion on a popular Japan forum – Wa-pedia. (mostly westerners)

p/s If you are a Japanese, get yourself ready for the “cool Japanese names” because many of them are just too common in Japan that you may find it hard to believe.

1. Tanaka たなか

Surprisingly the most popular family name for foreigners seemsto be Tanaka. In Japan, Tanaka is the 4th most common family name. (source: I remember the first Japanese name I learned from my Japanese textbook was Tanaka too lol. Congratulations to the 200,000 Tanaka san in Japan!

Many foreigners think Tanaka is the most common family name in Japan but the most common name in Japan is actually “Sato” 佐藤. However, Tanaka still seems to have more impact than Sato.

2. Yamada やまだ

Following the 2nd popular Japanese family name is Yamada. It is ranked 12th most common name, and has around 130,000 population in Japan. Is it somehow influenced by the Yamada Denki (ヤマダ電機, one of the largest consumer electronics retailer chains in Japan) and the Ghibli movies “となりの山田さん」?

3. Inoue いのうえ

Inoue has 90,000 population, ranked 16th most common family name in Japan. The reason why it is popular among foreigners is still a mystery.

4. Murakami むらかみ

Ranked 34th most common name, 60,000 population in Japan. It seems that foreigners love the sound “Kami”. Is it because of the influence of “Kamikaze”?

5. Yagami やがみ

This name also has a sound similar to “Kami”. 矢神さん、矢神さん、八神さん… The Kanji character “神” seems to be many foreigners’ favorite.

6. Yamaguchi やまぐち

Ranked 14th most common name, 100,000 population in Japan. Many foreigners seem to love the sound “Ya” too.

7. Nakamura なかむら

Ranked 8th most common name, 160,000 population in Japan. The family name starts with “Naka” seems to be popular too. なかじま、なかはら、なかもと and etc.

8. Kurosawa くろさわ

This should be given credit to the famous film director Akira Kurosawa. However, the population of this family name is surprisingly rare in Japan. There is only 2,855 people in the entire country.

9. Nakagawa なかがわ

52th most common name, 50,000 population. “Naka” sound family name is popular.

10. Terao てらお

In the thread of the forum, there were some people talking about this name and it led to a hot discussion. Some voices said it sounds good.


There are many other different opinions about cool Japanese names. Of course the choices differ from person to person. What I wrote here was merely based on the discussion on the famous Japan forum.

In conclusion, the names with “Ya”, “Sawa / Zawa”, “Kami”, “Naka” sounds seem to be foreigners favorite. What Japanese names do you find cool? Share your opinion with us in the comment section 🙂

A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.