Famous Japanese Men

A world power, Japan has long since been one of the leading nations in the world, be it scientifically, technologically, economically, educationally or militarily. And much of the credit for the same goes to famous Japanese men who worked hard to make the country a powerhouse that it is today. Be it Kenzo Tange and his architectural marvel of Hiroshima Peace Center or Emperor Akihito and his humanitarian approach, Momofuku Ando and his invention of instant noodles or Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe and his work, ‘Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids’, Japanese men have greatly contributed in the country’s growth and development.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki.
3
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: January 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bunkyō

Considered one of the most prominent filmmakers in the history of animated films, Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has gained worldwide acclaim as a maker of animated films and a masterful storyteller. Miyazaki has served as an inspiration to several world-renowned animators and directors, including James Cameron and Wes Anderson.

 2 Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki.
1
Famous As: Baseball Outfielder
Birthdate: October 22, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture

Ichiro Suzuki is a Japanese former baseball player who played as an outfielder in top-level professional leagues, including Major League Baseball (MLB). Also a popular player at the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, Suzuki became the first MLB player to be inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

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 3 Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa.
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan
Died: September 6, 1998

Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese filmmaker. Widely considered one of the most influential and important filmmakers of all time, Kurosawa's works opened up Western film markets to the products of the Japanese entertainment industry, enabling other Japanese filmmakers to achieve international recognition. Such is his impact as a filmmaker that he is credited with contributing to the development of Asia.

 4 Yuzuru Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu.
5
Famous As: Figure Skater
Birthdate: December 7, 1994
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sendai

Yuzuru Hanyu is a Japanese figure skater. Considered one of the greatest male figure skaters of all time, Hanyu became only the second figure skaters ever to receive two successive Olympic gold medals; he achieved this feat in 2014 and 2018. He also won the 2020 Four Continents Championships, becoming the only male singles skater to accomplish a Super Slam.

 5 Isoroku Yamamoto

Isoroku Yamamoto.
2
Famous As: Japanese Naval Officer Who Conceived The Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941
Birthdate: April 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan
Died: April 18, 1943
Isoroku Yamamoto was a Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During World War II, he served as the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet and oversaw operations such as the Pearl Harbor attack. He died when his fighter plane was shot down by the U.S. Air Forces

 6 Hirohito

Hirohito.
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Famous As: Former Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: April 29, 1901
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Died: January 7, 1989
Hirohito, or Emperor Showa, the longest-reigning Japanese emperor, reigned from 1926 to 1989 and supported the Axis Powers during World War II. He also served in the Japanese military. He was not prosecuted for war crimes by the U.S. and played a major role in the post-war reconstruction of Japan.

 7 George Miller

George Miller.
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Famous As: YouTube Personality, Humorist, Vlogger
Birthdate: September 18, 1992
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Osaka

George Miller, also known as Joji and Filthy Frank,  is a Japanese singer-songwriter, record producer, author, and comedian. He began his career in the entertainment industry through his many now-defunct YouTube channels. After gaining fame as a social media personality, he retired his channels to focus on his mainstream musical career. He now produces R&B and Trip-Hop music. 

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 8 Akihito

Akihito.
1
Famous As: 125th Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: December 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Akihito served as the 125th emperor of Japan after succeeding his father to the Chrysanthemum Throne. As emperor, he played a crucial role in inspiring people in 2011 when Japan was struck by two major disasters: Fukushima I nuclear crisis and Great East Japan Earthquake. Akihito abdicated the throne in 2019, becoming the first emperor to do so since 1817.

 9 Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III.
2
Famous As: American Football Player
Birthdate: February 12, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Okinawa

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Lee Griffin III, also known as RG3 or RGIII, has also played for the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns. Named the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year, he was also part of the 2013 Pro Bowl. Much of his career has been plagued with injuries.

 10 Hideo Kojima

Hideo Kojima.
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Famous As: Video Game Designer
Birthdate: August 24, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Setagaya
Japanese video-game designer Hideo Kojima is best known for designing Metal Gear for Konami, which led to the Metal Gear series. He also produced the Zone of the Enders series, and wrote and designed Snatcher and Policenauts. He has also won two Guinness records for being the most-followed video-game director.

 11 Oda Nobunaga

Oda Nobunaga.
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Famous As: 16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord
Birthdate: June 23, 1534
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nagoya Castle, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Died: June 21, 1582
Oda Nobunaga was a 16th-century Japanese leader of the Sengoku period. Known as the “Great Unifier" of Japan, he overthrew Ashikaga Yoshiaki and dissolved the Ashikaga Shogunate. He also crushed the Ikkō-ikki rebels and conquered Honshu. He was later ambushed and forced to commit “seppuku,” a form of ritual suicide.

 12 Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto.
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Famous As: Video Game Designer, Artist
Birthdate: November 16, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sonobe
Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto is the man behind games such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. He has been the general manager and senior MD at Nintendo and now serves as its representative director and creative fellow. He avoids appearing on TV or giving autographs.

 13 Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami.
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 12, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has authored bestselling works such as Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore, which explore the genres of surrealism and magic realism. He has also translated works by J. D. Salinger and Raymond Carver. He has been named to Time 100 and has won numerous awards.

 14 Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu.
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: January 31, 1543
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Okazaki Castle, Mikawa (now Okazaki, Japan)
Died: June 1, 1616

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He is considered one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan. He was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, a minor local warlord. He grew up to be an ambitious young man with exemplary leadership qualities and eventually founded the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. 

 15 Hiroyuki Sanada

Hiroyuki Sanada.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 12, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Hiroyuki Sanada gained prominence when he starred alongside Tom Cruise, in The Last Samurai. It opened the gates of Hollywood for him which was followed by various television shows and films. He bagged in the Japanese Academy Award for Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai).

 16 Shinsuke Nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura.
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Famous As: Japanese Pro Wrestler & MMA
Birthdate: February 24, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mineyama, Kyoto, Japan

Shinsuke Nakamura is a Japanese wrestler best known for appearing in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he has won several championships, such as the Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, and SmackDown Tag Team Championship. In 2016, Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine named him the Most Popular Wrestler of the Year. He is also known for his association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling

 17 Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata.
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Famous As: Former President & CEO of Nintendo
Birthdate: December 6, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sapporo
Died: July 11, 2015
Former Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata had started developing games while in school. He was the first Nintendo president not related to the Yamauchi family and revolutionized the gaming industry by focusing on a blue ocean strategy and introducing products such as the DS dual-screen console and targeting non-gamers.

 18 Grant Imahara

Grant Imahara
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Famous As: Electrical engineer
Birthdate: October 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

Grant Masaru Imahara, a Japanese-American electrical engineer, roboticist, television host and actor, began his career at Lucasfilm, where he got involved with several big budget films including Star War franchise. Later, he joined MythBusters as a member of Build Tea and was well-known for his contribution in it. His other important works include White Rabbit Project, BattleBots, Star Trek Continues etc.

 19 Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo.
3
Famous As: 27th Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: December 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kōjimachi, Tokyo, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

Hideki Tojo headed the Imperial Japanese Army and was the Japanese minister of war, apart from being Japan’s prime minister from 1941 to 1944. His tenure witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor. After Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, Tojo was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death.

 20 Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi.
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Famous As: Swordsman & Warrior
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: June 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

 21 Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 21, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Koide, Japan

While tragic hero characters shot him to fame, the Japanese actor is recognized by global audience for his roles in The Last Samurai and Godzilla. Having started his career as a stage actor, Ken Watanabe is known for playing Samurai roles in Japanese films. He was also cast in the lead role in The King and I staged on Broadway.

 22 Shinzō Abe

Shinzō Abe.
2
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: September 21, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo

Shinzō Abe is a Japanese politician who became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Japan after serving as prime minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2020. Aged 52 at the time of assuming office as the prime minister, Abe is also the youngest Japanese post-war prime minister.

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 23 Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama.
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Famous As: Japanese Manga Artist
Birthdate: April 5, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

Akira Toriyama is a Japanese character designer and manga artist. The creator of one of the most popular manga series of all time, Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama is widely considered one of the most influential artists to have changed the history of manga; his creation Dragon Ball is often cited as a source of inspiration by several manga artists.

 24 Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani.
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Famous As: Baseball Player
Birthdate: July 5, 1994
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Affectionately called Sho Time and the Japanese Babe Ruth, Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani is known for his successful stint with the MLB team Los Angeles Angels. Earlier, while with the Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters, he set the record for the fastest-ever pitch thrown by a Japanese player.

 25 Naruhito

Naruhito.
1
Famous As: Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: February 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo

Naruhito, the 126th emperor of Japan and the only living monarch to use the title “Emperor,” ascended the throne after his father Akihito’s abdication in 2019. Devoted to efforts of water conservation, Naruhito has also been part of the International Olympic Committee. He plays both the violin and the viola.

 26 Hiroo Onoda

Hiroo Onoda.
1
Famous As: Imperial Japanese Army Intelligence officer
Birthdate: March 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kainan, Wakayama, Empire of Japan
Died: January 16, 2014
Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese intelligence officer who had served in World War II and was the penultimate Japanese soldier to surrender. He hid in the Philippines for 29 years, unable to figure out the war had ended, until he was officially relieved from duty. He later wrote an autobiography.

 27 Mark Dacascos

Mark Dacascos
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 26, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

 28 Emperor Meiji

Emperor Meiji.
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Famous As: Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: November 3, 1852
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, Kyoto, Yamashiro Province, Japan
Died: July 30, 1912

Emperor Meiji of Japan presided over the all-round revolutionary transformation of his empire which emerged as a strong force on the global scene during his reign. His policies and actions led to Japan’s rapid growth and ended its isolation from the rest of the world. One of the noted changes during rule was the abolition of special privileges of samurais.

 29 Junji Ito

Junji Ito.
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Famous As: Manga artist
Birthdate: July 31, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nakatsugawa, Gifu, Japan

Junji Ito is a Japanese manga artist known for his horror manga series, such as Tomie, Uzumaki, and Gyo. Tomie has been adapted into a series of Japanese films, while Uzumaki was adapted into a 2000 film of the same name. In 2019, Junji Ito was honored with an Eisner Award for his work. 

 30 Tsutomu Miyazaki

Tsutomu Miyazaki.
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Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: August 21, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Itsukaichi
Died: June 17, 2008
Japanese serial killer, rapist, and cannibal Tsutomu Miyazaki, better known as the Otaku Murderer or the Little Girl Murderer, kidnapped and killed four girls, from ages 4 to 7, and then dismembered the bodies and indulged in necrophilia. He was convicted in 1997 and hanged to death in 2008.

 31 Mutsuhiro Watanabe

Mutsuhiro Watanabe.
5
Famous As: Imperial Japanese Army Corporal
Birthdate: January 18, 1918
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Japan
Died: April 1, 2003

Mutsuhiro Watanabe was an Imperial Japanese Army soldier in World War II. Following Japan’s defeat, he was classified a war criminal for his mistreatment of prisoners of war (POWs) by the US Occupation authorities. However, the US authorities could not capture him. In his later years, he became an insurance salesman and grew wealthy.

 32 Masashi Kishimoto

Masashi Kishimoto.
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Famous As: Manga Artist
Birthdate: November 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nagi, Okayama Prefecture
Japanese manga artist Masashi Kishimoto is best known for creating the manga series Naruto for the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. The series eventually led to several anime, video games, and movies, such as Boruto: Naruto the Movie and The Last: Naruto the Movie, supervised by Kishimoto. 

 33 Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
2
Famous As: Japanese Samurai
Birthdate: March 17, 1537
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Died: September 18, 1598

Japanese samurai and daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi of the Sengoku period, also known as the second Great Unifier of Japan, became the Chancellor of the Realm (Daijō-daijin) and Imperial Regent (kampaku). He constructed the Osaka Castle, banned slavery, and established the Tokugawa class system and the Council of Five Elders.

 34 Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa.
1
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: March 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tarumi-ku, Kobe, Hyōgo

Shinji Kagawa is a Japanese footballer who plays as a midfielder. He has the distinction of having played for top-notch European football clubs, such as Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Known for agility on the field, Shinji Kagawa is currently part of the Greek club, PAOK Thessaloniki, after his contract with Spanish team, Zaragoza, was terminated. 

 35 Issei Sagawa

Issei Sagawa.
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Famous As: Public orator
Birthdate: April 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kobe, Hyogo, Japan

Issei Sagawa is a Japanese murderer, necrophile, and cannibal. He garnered international attention when he murdered, mutilated, cannibalized, and raped Renée Hartevelt's corpse for several days in Paris in 1981. Although he was arrested, Sagawa was released two years later after being found legally insane. Issei Sagawa has been the subject of many documentary films.

 36 Mako Iwamatsu

Mako Iwamatsu.
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 10, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kobe, Japan
Died: July 21, 2006

Japanese-American actor Makoto Iwamatsu, or Mako, is remembered for his Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated role of Po-Han in The Sand Pebbles. He also appeared in Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, and Seven Years in Tibet. He delivered a Tony-nominated performance in Pacific Overtures and co-founded East West Players.

 37 Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish
2
Famous As: Baseball player
Birthdate: August 16, 1986
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ōsaka

 38 Keisuke Honda

Keisuke Honda.
1
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: June 13, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Settsu, Osaka Prefecture

Keisuke Honda is a Japanese football player and manager. A versatile player, Honda can play as an attacking midfielder and as a winger. Renowned for his accuracy, dribbling skills, and powerful striking ability, Keisuke Honda helped the Japan national football team win the 2011 Asian Cup, where he was adjudged Player of the Tournament.       

 39 Haruma Miura

Haruma Miura
2
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Voice actor, Child actor
Birthdate: April 5, 1990
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tsuchiura

 40 Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori
0
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: December 29, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Matsue, Shimane, Japan

 41 Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai.
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: October 31, 1760
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edo, Tokyo, Japan
Died: May 10, 1849

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese printmaker, ukiyo-e painter, and artist of the Edo period. He is best known as the creator of the monumental Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of landscape prints, which includes the iconic print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. He is credited with transforming the ukiyo-e art form to include a much broader style of art.

 42 Tenshin Nasukawa

Tenshin Nasukawa.
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Famous As: Kickboxer
Birthdate: August 18, 1998
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Matsudo
Former Rizin bantamweight title-holder Tenshin Nasukawa had begun training in karate at age 5. The Japanese MMA fighter and kickboxer is known for his peculiar style that mingles kickboxing and full-contact karate. He ended up crying after being steamrolled by U.S. boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in a match in Tokyo.

 43 Brian Tee

Brian Tee.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Brian Tee is a Japanese American actor. He is best known for playing Dr. Ethan Choi in the popular medical drama TV series, Chicago Med. Tee has reprised his role as Ethan in spin-off series, such as Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. He has also appeared in popular films like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Jurassic World

 44 Richard T. Jones

Richard T. Jones.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 16, 1972
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

Richard T. Jones is an American actor known for playing important roles in films like Full Court Miracle, The Wood, and Why Did I Get Married? Apart from being an actor, Richard T. Jones is also a preacher/minister and often appears in Christian drama films, such as A Question of Faith.

 45 Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 1, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Qingdao, Shandong, Republic of China
Died: December 24, 1997

Toshiro Mifune was a Japanese actor best known for his collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa. The two worked together for 16 films, most of which are considered cinema classics. In 1986, Mifune was honored with the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. In 2016, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 46 Masayoshi Son

Masayoshi Son.
1
Famous As: Founder of SoftBank
Birthdate: August 11, 1957
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tosu, Saga Prefecture, Japan

Masayoshi Son is a Japanese technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and investor. He is credited with founding SoftBank, a popular Japanese holding company, for which he also serves as the chief executive officer. One of the richest men in Japan, Son has pledged to donate $120 million to support the victims affected by the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku.

 47 Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon
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Famous As: Animator, Film director, Screenwriter, Mangaka
Birthdate: October 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kushiro
Died: August 24, 2010

 48 Masi Oka

Masi Oka.
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 27, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Masi Oka soared to fame with his Emmy-nominated and Saturn Award-winning role of Hiro Nakamura in the superhero series Heroes. The Hawaii Five-0 star is a black belt in Japanese fencing and an avid chess player. He is also multilingual and has been a translator at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

 49 Satoshi Tajiri

Satoshi Tajiri
1
Famous As: Video game designer
Birthdate: August 28, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo

 50 Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara.
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Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: January 1, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kozuchi Town (now Mino, Gifu Prefecture), Japan
Died: July 31, 1986

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat best remembered for helping thousands of Jews flee Europe during the Second World War. He did so by issuing transit visas to the Jews, enabling them to travel through Japanese territory. Sugihara helped the Jews despite knowing that he was risking the lives of his family and his job. 

What’s more, Japanese men have made their presence felt in science as well, with a long list of Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Physiology and so on. Their technological contributions in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering, industrial robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals are second to none. It is for their contribution that Japan has become a leading nation in scientific research, technology, machinery and biomedical research. To know in details about the life and works of famous Japanese men, read this section.