Watanabe (渡辺, “ferryside”) is the fifth most common Japanese surname.
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:
Watanabe Hajime of the Mori clan at the battles of Gassan-Toda (1540), Miyajima (1555) and Moji (1561).
Watanabe Moritsuna (1542–1620) who joined Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1557, at the battles of Anegawa (1570), Mikatagahara (1573) and Nagashino (1575).
In the context of the Japanese economy, Mrs. Watanabe is a generic name for housewives who deal in foreign exchange.
3 Other groups
4 See also
Akeno Watanabe (voice actress)
Atsushi Watanabe (politician)
Akira Watanabe (National President of the Scout Association of Japan from 1974–2003)
Emi Watanabe (Olympic figure skater)
Gedde Watanabe (A.K.A. Gary Watanabe, actor)
Graham Watanabe (U.S. Olympic Snowboarder)
Greg Watanabe (actor)
Hamako Watanabe (singer)
Hiroshi Watanabe (animator)
Hiroshi Watanabe (photographer)
Ippei Watanabe (football player)
Ippei Watanabe (swimmer)
Jiro Watanabe (boxer)
José Watanabe (Peruvian poet)
Junya Watanabe (fashion designer)
Katsuaki Watanabe (President of Toyota Motor Corporation)
Kazuki Watanabe (disambiguation)
Kazumi Watanabe (musician)
Kazuro Watanabe (astronomer)
Ken Watanabe (actor)
Kenji Watanabe (breaststroke swimmer)