Japanese clans

Ancient clan names

There are ancient-era clan names called Uji-na (氏名) or Honsei (本姓).

Imperial Clan

Four noble clans

Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘), 4 noble clans of Japan:

Mon of Taira clan

Noble clans

Native clans

Newly created noble clan

Immigrant clans (Toraijin, 渡来人)

According to the book Shinsen Shōjiroku compiled in 815, a total 326 out of 1,182 clans in the Kinai area on Honshū were regarded as people with foreign genealogy. The book specifically mentions 163 were from China, 104 such families from Baekje, 41 from Goguryeo, 9 from Silla, and 9 from Gaya.[1]


Kudarao Shrine
Kudara shrine of the Kudara no Konikishi clan





Family names

From the late ancient era onward, the family name (Myōji/苗字 or 名字) had been commonly used by samurai to denote their family line instead of the name of the ancient clan that the family line belongs to (uji-na/氏名 or honsei/本姓), which was used only in the official records in the Imperial court. Kuge families also had used their family name (Kamei/家名) for the same purpose. Each of samurai families is called "[family name] clan (氏)" as follows and they must not be confused with ancient clan names:

Go-shichi no kiri crest
Mon of Hashiba clan
Mon of Mōri clan
Oda emblem
Mon of Oda clan

Other clans and families

Mitsubishi logo
Logo of Mitsubishi


Sacerdotal clans:


Ryukyuan people are not Yamato people, but the Ryukyu Islands have been part of Japan since 1879.

Hidari gomon
Mon of the Ryukyu Kingdom

Ryukyuan dynasties:

See also


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Saeki was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Nelson, John K. (2000). Enduring Identities: The Guise of Shinto in Contemporary Japan, pp. 67–69.
  3. ^ Cranston, Edwin A. (1998). A Waka Anthology, p. 513.
  4. ^ Grapard, Allan G. (1992). The protocol of the gods, p. 42.


  • Newell, William Hare. (1976). Ancestors., Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-90-279-7859-2; OCLC 2576802
Abe clan

The Abe clan (安倍氏, Abe-shi) was one of the oldest of the major Japanese clans (uji); and the clan retained its prominence during the Sengoku period and the Edo period. The clan's origin is said to be one of the original clans of the Yamato people; they truly gained prominence during the Heian period (794-1185), and experienced a resurgence in the 18th century. Abe is also a very common Japanese surname in modern times, though not everyone with this name is necessarily descended from this clan.

Asakura clan

The Asakura clan (朝倉氏, Asakura-shi) is a Japanese kin group.

Hōjō clan

The Hōjō clan (北条氏, Hōjō shi) in the history of Japan was a family who controlled the hereditary title of shikken (regent) of the Kamakura shogunate between 1203 and 1333. Despite the title, in practice the family wielded actual governmental power during this period compared to both the Kamakura shōguns, or the Imperial Court in Kyoto, whose authority was largely symbolic. The Hōjō are known for fostering Zen Buddhism and for leading the successful opposition to the Mongol invasions of Japan. Resentment at Hōjō rule eventually culminated in the overthrow of the clan and the establishment of the Ashikaga shogunate.

Ichijō family

The Ichijō family (一条家, Ichijō-ke) was a Japanese aristocratic kin group. The Ichijō was a branch of the Fujiwara clan.

Imagawa clan

Imagawa clan (今川氏, Imagawa-uji) was a Japanese noble military clan that claimed descent from the Seiwa Genji by way of the Kawachi Genji. It was a branch of the Minamoto clan by the Ashikaga clan.

Kujō family

Kujō family (九条家, Kujō-ke) was a Japanese aristocratic kin group. The Kujō was a branch of the Fujiwara clan.

Later Hōjō clan

The Later Hōjō clan (後北条氏, Go-Hōjō-shi) was one of the most powerful warrior clans in Japan in the Sengoku period and held domains primarily in the Kantō region.

Mōri clan

The Mōri clan (毛利氏 Mōri-shi) was a Japanese samurai clan descended from Ōe no Hiromoto. The family's most illustrious member, Mōri Motonari, greatly expanded the clan's power in Aki Province. During the Edo period his descendants became daimyō of the Chōshū Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. After the Meiji Restoration with the abolition of the han system and daimyō, the Mōri clan became part of the new nobility.

Nijō family

Nijō family (二条家, Nijō-ke) was a Japanese aristocratic kin group. The Nijō was a branch of the Fujiwara clan.

Oda clan

The Oda clan (織田氏, Oda-shi) was a family of Japanese daimyōs who were to become an important political force in the unification of Japan in the mid-16th century. Though they had the climax of their fame under Oda Nobunaga and fell from the spotlight soon after, several branches of the family continued as daimyō houses until the Meiji Restoration.

Saitō clan

The Saitō clan (斎藤氏, Saitō-shi) was a Japanese samurai kin group from Echizen Province.

Soga clan

The Soga clan (Japanese: 蘇我氏, Hepburn: Soga uji) was one of the most powerful clans of the Asuka period of the early Japanese state—the Yamato polity—and played a major role in the spread of Buddhism. Through the 5th and 7th centuries, the Soga monopolized the kabane or hereditary rank of Great Omi and was the first of many families to dominate the Imperial House of Japan by influencing the order of succession and government policy.

The last Soga predates any historical work in Japan, and very little is known about its earliest members.

Taira clan

Taira clan (平氏, Hei-shi) was a major Japanese clan of samurai.

In reference to Japanese history, along with Minamoto, Taira was a hereditary clan name bestowed by the emperors of the Heian period to certain ex-members of the imperial family when they became subjects. The Taira clan is often referred to as Heishi (平氏, "Taira clan") or Heike (平家, "House of Taira"), using the character's Chinese reading hei.

Offshoots of the imperial dynasty, some grandsons of Emperor Kanmu were first given the name Taira in 825 or later. Afterwards, descendants of Emperor Ninmyō, Emperor Montoku, and Emperor Kōkō were also given the surname. The specific hereditary lines from these emperors are referred to by the emperor's posthumous name followed by Heishi, e.g. Kanmu Heishi.

The Taira were one of the four important clans that dominated Japanese politics during the Heian period (794–1185) – the others were the Fujiwara clan, the Tachibana clan and the Minamoto clan.

The Kanmu Heishi line, founded in 889 by Taira no Takamochi (a great-grandson of the 50th Kanmu tennō, reigned 781–806), proved to be the strongest and most dominant line during the late Heian period with Taira no Kiyomori eventually forming the first samurai-dominated government in the history of Japan. A great-grandson of Heishi Takamochi, Taira no Korihira, moved to Ise Province (now part of Mie Prefecture) and established a major daimyō dynasty.

Masamori's son, Taira no Tadamori, became a loyal supporter of the abdicated Emperor Shirakawa, which enabled the Taira fortunes to grow. Taira no Kiyomori, son and heir of Tadamori, rose to the position of daijō daijin (great minister of state) following his victories in the Hōgen Disturbance (1156) and the Heiji Rebellion (1160). Kiyomori managed to enthrone his infant grandson as Emperor Antoku in 1180, an act which led to the Genpei War (1180–85), the Taira-Minamoto War. Kiyomori's sons, the last of the head family of the Kammu Heishi line, were eventually defeated by the 6 armies of Minamoto no Yoritomo at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the last battle of the Genpei War. This story is told in the early Japanese epic, The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari).

This Kammu Heishi had many branch families, including the Hōjō, Chiba, Miura, Tajiri and Hatakeyama.

Another Kammu Heishi: Takamune-ō (804–867), the eldest son of Kazurahara-Shinnō (786–853) and a grandson of Emperor Kammu, received the kabane of Taira no Ason in 825. Thus there were two Kammu Heishi families, one descended from Takamune and the other from his nephew, Takamochi (son of Prince Takami).

The Oda clan in the time of Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582) claimed descent from the Taira, by Taira no Chikazane, a grandson of Taira no Shigemori (1138–1179).

Takatsukasa family

Takatsukasa clan (鷹司家, Takutsukasa-ke) was a Japanese aristocratic kin group. The Takatsukasa was a branch of the Fujiwara clan.

Takeda clan

The Takeda clan (武田氏, Takeda-shi) was a Japanese clan active from the late Heian period until the late 16th century. The clan was historically based in Kai Province in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture. The clan was known for their honorable actions under the rule of Takeda Shingen, one of the most famous rulers of the period.

Tokugawa clan

The Tokugawa clan (徳川氏、德川氏, Tokugawa-shi or Tokugawa-uji) was a powerful daimyō family of Japan. They nominally descended from Emperor Seiwa (850–880) and were a branch of the Minamoto clan (Seiwa Genji) by the Nitta clan. The early history of this clan remains a mystery. Members of the clan ruled Japan as shōguns from 1603 to 1867.

Toyotomi clan

The Toyotomi clan (豊臣氏, Toyotomi-shi) was a Japanese clan that ruled over Japan before the Edo period.

Uesugi clan

The Uesugi clan (上杉氏, Uesugi-shi) was a Japanese samurai clan, descended from the Fujiwara clan and particularly notable for their power in the Muromachi and Sengoku periods (roughly 14th through 17th centuries).The clan was split into three branch families, the Ōgigayatsu, Inukake and Yamanouchi Uesugi, which boasted considerable influence. The Uesugi are perhaps best known for Uesugi Kenshin (1530–1578), originally from the Nagao clan, one of Sengoku's more prominent warlords. The family name is sometimes rendered as Uyesugi, but this is representative of historical kana usage; the "ye" spelling is no longer used in Japanese.

In the Edo period, the Uesugi were identified as one of the tozama or outsider clans, in contrast with the fudai or insider daimyō clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa clan.

Yasuda clan

The Yasuda clan was a Japanese samurai kin group in the Sengoku period and Edo period.

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