Famous Japanese People

Famous Japanese People

See a listing of famous Japanese people in the world of art, film, literature, politics and sport plus famous Japanese people from history.

This list of well-known Japanese includes historical figures such as Sakamoto Ryoma, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Lafcadio Hearn.

From the world of art, music, literature and design read biographies of Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusama, Yukio Mishima, Ayumi Hamasaki, Tadao Ando, Issey Miyake, Sakamoto Ryuichi and Taro Okamoto.

Giants of Japanese industry and technology include Konosuke Matsushita and Soichiro Honda. Sports stars' biographies include baseball's Ichiro Suzuki and Sadaharu Oh, golfer Ryo Ishikawa and soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata.

Film directors Akira Kurosawa, Shohei Imamura and more recently anime director Hayao Miyazaki are among the most famous Japanese celebrities known or once known overseas for their movies.

Politians include Junichiro Koizumi and Kakuei Tanaka.

Japanese Historical Figures

William Adams 1564-1620 - the first Englishman in Japan.

Emperor Hirohito 1901-1989 - the Emperor Showa.

Fukuzawa Yukichi 1835-1901 - founder of the prestigious Keio University and the man pictured on the 10,000 yen note.

Honda Tadakatsu 1548-1610 - famous warrior and general for Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Itagaki Taisuke 1837-1919 - Meiji-era politician and civil rights campaigner.

Kato Kiyomasa 1562-1611 - feared general of Hideyoshi and builder of Kumamoto Castle.

Kukai 774-835 - aka Kobo Daishi, polymath founder of Shingon Buddhism.

Lafcadio Hearn 1850-1904 - influential poet and writer on Japan.

Maeda Toshiie 1538-1599 - famous samurai warrior, feudal lord and vassal of Nobunaga.

Oda Nobunaga 1534-1582 - medieval warlord renowned for his cruelty and artistic sense.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi 1536-1598 - second in the trio of the great unifiers of Japan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu 1543-1616 - began the Tokugawa dynasty that was to rule Japan for over 250 years during the Edo Period.

Saigo Takamori 1828-1877 - one of the most famous tragic heroes of Japanese history.

Sakamoto Ryoma 1836-1867 - political activist in the Bakumatsu Period from Kochi, murdered in Kyoto.

Sesshu Toyo 1420-1506 - one of Japan's greatest artists and garden designers.

Yamagata Aritomo 1838-1922 - influential Meiji-era genro and arch-conservative politician.

Statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, a famous Japanese person.
Statue of Sakamoto Ryoma at Katsurahama Beach, Kochi
Kusama Yayoi, a famous Japanese artist.
Yayoi Kusama on the cover of Tokyo's Big Issue

Japanese Artists & Designers

Tadao Ando 1941 - Japan's architect of space and light.

Fumio Asakura 1883-1964 - prolific sculptor known for his fabulous bronzes of people.

Kawai Kanjiro 1890-1966 - ceramic artist an a leader in the mingei (folk art) movement.

Yayoi Kusama 1929- - artist and sculptor.

Suehiro Maruo 1956 - one of Japan's leading ero-guro manga artists.

Issey Miyake 1938 - a pioneering Japanese fashion designer.

Ninomiya Chuhachi 1866-1936 - Japan's aircraft pioneer.

Taro Okamoto 1911-1996 - Art is Magic.

Yoko Ono 1933 - - wife of John Lennon and avant garde musician.

Kenzo Tange 1913-2005 - visionary post-war architect and urban planner.

Unkei 1150-1223 - considered one of the greatest Japanese wood sculptors, famous for his lifelike carvings.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi 1935 - - manga artist accredited as one of the architects of a new kind of realism in manga known as gekiga ("dramatic pictures").

Masao Adachi 1939 - revolutionary, scriptwriter, and director.

Shozin Fukui b. 1961 - rock musician and cyberpunk movie director.

Takahiko Iimura 1937 - experimental movie director most famous for his films in the 1960's and 70's.

Shohei (Shouhei) Imamura 1926-2006 - film writer, producer, and director.

Akira Kurosawa 1910-1998 - Japan's pre-eminent movie director.

Yoshihiko Matsui 1956 - one of Japan's most respected cult directors famous for the classic Noisy Requiem.

Hayao Miyazaki b.1941 - renowned director of such films as Princess Mononoke and Castle in the Sky.

Watanabe Ken b. 1959 - actor famous for his roles in The Last Samurai, Batman Begins and Godzilla.

Business & Industry

Soichiro Honda 1906-1991 - founder of Honda Motor Corporation.

Konosuke Matsushita 1894-1989 - giant of Japanese electronics.

Minoru Mori 1934-2012 - mega-rich international property developer.

Japanese Literature

Osamu Dazai 1909-1948 - one of Japan's most famous 20th century writers.

Lafcadio Hearn 1850-1904 - author of such works as Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan and Kwaidan.

Yukio Mishima 1925-1970 - controversial novelist, effete and rightist.

Music in Japan

Ayumi Hamasaki 1978 - J.Pop diva.

Ryuichi Sakamoto 1952 - musician, actor and record producer.

Toru Takemitsu 1930-1996 - Japanese composer.

Japanese Politics & Politicians

Charles E. Jenkins b. 1940 - US deserter, North Korean captive, now a greeter on Sado Island.

Junichiro Koizumi b.1942 - Prime Minister of Japan 2001-2006

Kakuei Tanaka 1918-1993 - highly effective though tainted politician.

Japanese Sports

Ryo Ishikawa b.1991 - young starlet of Japanese golf.

Masanori Murakami b.1944 - the first Japanese player in the US baseball major leagues.

Hidetoshi Nakata b.1977 - well-traveled Japanese soccer player.

Sadaharu Oh b.1940 - Japan's Babe Ruth.

Ichiro Suzuki b.1973 - the greatest Japanese export to MLB.

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