Interesting Meaning of Japanese Automaker Names

Japanese brands occupy a significant share in the automobile market. Although many people use these cars, they are unaware of the meaning of the Japanese car names. For those who are curious to know what do Japanese automaker names mean, here are some popular automobile brand names and their meanings.

1. Nissan

The meaning of the name “Nissan” is perhaps the simplest one. People use Japanese kanji characters to write this name. The first kanji “ni” means “sun”, which also happens to be the first character of what Japanese people call their country – “Nihon”. And the second kanji “sun” means “production”. Therefore, Nissan meaning Japanese is the “product of Japan.”

2. Subaru

Japanese car manufacturer company Subaru writes its name in katakana instead of kanji. Subaru in Japanese means Pleiades (also known as Seven Sisters), which is a star cluster. One may wonder why the Subaru logo has only six stars? It is because of the Japanese tradition that counts only six stars in the Subaru constellation.

3. Honda

The logo of Honda. (Source: Ramon Costa / PxHere)

Since 1959, Honda has been the largest manufacturer of motorcycles worldwide. Currently, it is the second-largest automobile manufacturer in Japan. It derived its name from its founder Soichiro Honda. Whether one writes it in kanji or katakana, the meaning remains the same, i.e., “original field” or “main field”.

4. Mazda

Mazda Motor Corporation gets its name from its founder Jujiro Matsuda. Matsuda is a family name in Japanese with the meaning “field of pines”. However, the company decided to change the brand name from “Matsuda” to “Mazda”, getting inspiration from the Zoroastrian god “Ahura Mazda”.

5. Mitsubishi

The logo of the famous Mitsubishi group with three red diamonds on a white background reflects its meaning. Mitsubishi is a Japanese compound word, consisting of “Mitsu” and “bishi,” respectively meaning “three” and “diamonds”. So, one can conclude that the name Mitsubishi means “three diamonds”.

6. Toyota

Kiichiro Toyoda founded Japan’s largest automaker Toyota Motor Corporation and gave it the name based on his surname. Toyoda means “fertile farm field” in Japanese. The name change took place from Toyoda to Toyota because Toyoda needs ten strokes to write in the katakana alphabet. Number ten indicates a crossroads or indecision, which is a bad sign for a new company. On the other hand, Toyota requires eight strokes and Japanese people consider number eight as good luck.


7. Suzuki

Suzuki is a Japanese surname, and the car brand got its name from the company founder Michio Suzuki. The words “Suzu” and “Ki” mean “Bell Tree.”

8. Lexus

Although Japanese company Toyota owns Lexus now, it has its origin outside Japan. Hence, this name is not even Japanese. Theories say that the name is a mix of “luxury” and “elegance,” or acronym for “luxury exports to the U.S.”.

9. Acura

Acura is the luxury marque of Honda. This name is not a Japanese word at all. Instead, it comes from the Latin word “acu,” meaning mechanical precision.


These are the name meanings of the automakers of Japan. Now, car enthusiasts can find out what the popular Japanese automobile company names mean.