Seven Seas

The most common surname in Miyakojima


Hello Miyakojima Fan!


The number of surnames in Miyakojima is not very large, and only about 100 are listed in the telephone directory.


As many of them are derived from regional names, you can easily tell that they have roots in Miyakojima just by hearing their surnames.


According to the telephone directory, the most common surname in Miyakojima is Shimoji, the second most common is Sunagawa, and the third is Taira.


Let’s take a look at the origin of these three particularly common family names.


(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima
(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima


The most famous person in the history of Miyakojima is probably Nakasone Tuyumya.


In the early 15th century, when the Ryukyu Dynasty was established, he was the first person to be recognized by the Ryukyu Kingdom as the “Chief of Miyakojima.

Nakasone Tuyumya established the central government, Kuramoto.
It was later divided into three administrative divisions, and they are located in Hirara, Shimoji, and Sunagawa.

This three-headed government system continued until the Meiji era (1868-1912), when the new administrative division, “the prefecture”  was established.


These three administrative divisions, Hirara, Shimoji and Sunagawa were called “Magiri”.
Under this Magiri, there is a “village”.


Magiri is Okinawa Prefecture’s own unit of administrative division, which is almost the same as the current municipal division.


In the Meiji era, people started to have their family name.

Then, people from the Hirara Magiri often took the family name “Hirara”.


Nowadays, all the surname is read as “Taira” with the same Chinese character.
It may because all the regional name in Okinawa mainland is read as “Taira”, instead of “Hirara” and they wanted to adjust the Naha standard.


(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima
(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima


The same as Hirara Magiri, the surnames of people from Sunagawa Magiri are often “Sunakawa” or “Sunagawa” and about 60% of the village in Aza-Sunagawa have the Sunagawa surname.


(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima
(C) SevenSeasMiyakojima


The most common surname in Miyakojima is “Shimoji”

When people started to have the surnames, it is said that general people cousulted with the village officials and deceide whether they should called “Shimoji-san” because they lived in “Shimoji-magiri” or “Kawamitsu-san” because they lived in “Kawamitsu-village.


The reason why there are so many people with the surnames Taira, Shimoji, and Sunagawa is because Miyakojima was divided into these three Magiri, the administrative district.


According to a telephone directory survey, the Shimoji surname accounts for about 10% of the total population of Miyakojima, the Sunagawa surname 9.6%, and the Taira surname 6%.

When I mention about Mr. Shimoji to somebody, they may ask, “Which Mr. Shimoji? ”
And it is easily understtood when you are called “Shimoji-san” at the hospital, many people say “Yes!”


KOKO will explain more about the culture and history of Miyakojima with a full day eco-tour.

A group-chartered English Eco-Tour in Miyakojima

English Eco-Tour

Experienced interpreter will introduce you the history and the culture of Miyakojima, by visiting historical sites, caves, and mangrove area.
Discover Miyakojima from a new perspective !
(We will not enter the sea with this program.)

  • Perfect for families or groups traveling together

  • Can experience an extraordinary Miyakojima unlike any other


KOKO (EnglishGuide)

This article is written by KOKO, an experienced and well-trained ecotourism coordinator. After worked at U.S. securities firm, obtained diving and kayak instructor license. Had worked as an intern of eco-tour guide in Australia, and worked as an nature guide in Palau. ......... English tour guided by KOKO : A Full Day Eco-Tour [ Click HERE for detail ]