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Watanabe (渡辺, "ferryside") is the fifth most common Japanese surname.[1]

The first to be named Watanabe were the samurai clan founded by Watanabe no Tsuna (953-1025), a descendant of the Emperor Saga. Tsuna established the Watanabe branch of Saga Minamoto clan, taking the family name from his residential area Watanabe, Settsu Province. He was companion in arms to Minamoto no Yorimitsu (944–1021), and famous for his military exploits in a number of tales and legends. Dominating Settsu Province as a focal area of maritime transportation in medieval Japan, the Watanabe family spread its influence widely. Their descendants settled in other areas, including Kyushu. Besides the mainstream of Watanabe, Matsura in Hizen Province, later daimyō of Hirado Domain, were the most famous and flourished branch.

Several samurai clans claimed a genealogical relation to the above Watanabe family. They included Watanabe of Hakata and Watanabe of Ōmura. The Watanabe of Hakata were daimyō of Hakata Domain (Izumi Province) until the Meiji Restoration (1868). The Watanabe clan of Ōmura (Hizen Province) and the Watanabe clan of the Suwa (Shinano Province) were ranked among the Peers after 1868.

During the 16th century wars, the following Watanabe samurai distinguished themselves:

In the context of the Japanese economy, Mrs. Watanabe is a generic name for housewives who deal in foreign exchange.[2]



Other groups[edit]

  • The Watanabes, hit group of Tokyo-based international Indie/acoustic band

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Names". Japanverse. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Forex Power of Mrs. Watanabe". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 October 2013.