Japanese: written 秦 also phonetically 羽田 羽太 波田 ハ多 and so forth. It is the name of an ancient clan descended from the family and followers of Yuzuki no Kimi a Korean prince who claimed descent from Qin Shihuangdi Emperor of China (259–210 BC). Many of these followers were skilled silk producers and weavers; they were therefore given the name Hata meaning ‘loom’. Listed in the Shinsen shōjiroku the name is related etymologically to Hattori ‘clothing guild’. Actually the character 秦 pronounced qin (or ch’in) in Chinese has nothing to do with weaving; it means ‘flourishing rice plants’. As the name of the first clan to conquer and unify the rest of China it is the source of the name China. It is likely that the reading hata was arbitrarily applied by the newly literate Japanese to the character qin because the newly arrived weavers claimed Qin clan connections or at least were perceived as being ‘Chinese’. Also sometimes pronounced Hada .
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press