Famous Japanese Directors

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 1 
Hayao Miyazaki
(One of the Most Accomplished Filmmakers in the History of Animation)
Hayao Miyazaki
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Birthdate: January 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bunkyo City, Tokyo, Japan

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 
Akira Kurosawa
(Filmmaker)
Akira Kurosawa
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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.

 3 
Yasujiro Ozu
(Director)
Yasujiro Ozu
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Birthdate: December 12, 1903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fukagawa district, Tokyo, Japan
Died: December 12, 1963

Yasujiro Ozu often ran away from school to watch movies at a local theater and later began his career as a camera assistant. He directed both silent films and talkies, including the masterpiece Tokyo Story, and is best remembered for his signature static camera effect and the use of the color red.

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 4 
Osamu Tezuka
(Film director, Film producer, Mangaka, Animator, Physician, Writer, Designer, Screenwriter)
Osamu Tezuka
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Birthdate: November 3, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toyonaka
Died: February 9, 1989

Osamu Tezuka was a Japanese manga artist, cartoonist, animator, and film director. He revolutionized the manga genre in Japan and was lovingly called  "the Godfather of Manga". A prolific artist, he created works for both children and adult-oriented projects. He was the recipient of several awards, including the Winsor McCay Award and the Japan Cartoonists Association Award. 

 5 
Takeshi Kitano
(Comedian)
Takeshi Kitano
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Birthdate: January 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Adachi, Tokyo, Japan

Takeshi Kitano is a Japanese comedian, TV presenter, author, actor, and filmmaker. He gained international fame in the 1970s as one half of the comedy duo Two Beat. He later pursued a solo act and became one of the top comedians in Japan. He then ventured into acting and direction as well. He won the Golden Lion award in 1997.   

 6 
Takashi Miike
(Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter, Actor)
Takashi Miike
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Birthdate: August 24, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yao

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is best known for his masterpieces such as the action-horror Ichi the Killer and the samurai film 13 Assassins. Though he initially wished to be a motorbike racer, he later joined a film school. His films are known for his controversial, violent, and sexually provocative themes.

 7 
Gorō Miyazaki
(Film director, Animator, Screenwriter, Architect)
Gorō Miyazaki
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Birthdate: January 21, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo

Gorō Miyazaki is a Japanese animator, director, and screenwriter. The son of a prominent animator, he consciously decided not to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a landscape architect. Later on, he did enter the film business with the anime epic fantasy film, Tales from Earthsea, his directorial debut. He also served as the screenwriter on this project. 

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 8 
Masaaki Yuasa
(Screenwriter, Animator, Film director)
Masaaki Yuasa
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Birthdate: March 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fukuoka

Masaaki Yuasa is a critically acclaimed Japanese animator, director, and screenwriter. He is the co-founder of Science SARU, a Japanese animation studio. He began his career as an animator before moving into directing. Famous for his idiosyncratic art style, he is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. 

 9 
Isao Takahata
(Director)
Isao Takahata
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Birthdate: October 29, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ise, Mie, Japan
Died: April 5, 2018

Japanese filmmaker Isao Takahata is best known for his collaborations with Hayao Miyazaki, with whom he co-established Studio Ghibli. Born to an academician father, he had initially studied French literature. He is best remembered for his Oscar-nominated film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. His signature plot includes a protagonist on a train.

 10 
Mamoru Hosoda
(Film director, Animator, Screenwriter, Animation director)
Mamoru Hosoda
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Birthdate: September 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kamiichi

Japanese animator Mamoru Hosoda is best known for his Academy Award-nominated film Mirai. An oil painting major, he began his career with Toei Animation and then joined Madhouse, eventually launching his own studio, Studio Chizu. He is known for his signature themes such as family and his collaborations with Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.

 11 
Hironobu Sakaguchi
(Game designer)
Hironobu Sakaguchi
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Birthdate: November 25, 1962
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hitachi, Ibaraki, Japan

Hironobu Sakaguchi is a Japanese writer, video game designer, producer, and director. Sakaguchi is credited with creating the popular anthology science fantasy media franchise Final Fantasy. He is also credited with selling more than 100 million units of video games worldwide. In 2004, Sakaguchi founded an independent video game development studio named Mistwalker Corporation.

 12 
Eiji Tsuburaya
(cinematographer, television producer, film director)
Eiji Tsuburaya
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Birthdate: July 7, 1901
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sukagawa
Died: January 25, 1970

Best known for creating the special effects in the Godzilla series of films, Japanese special-effects director Eiji Tsuburaya had earned the nickname The Father of Tokusatsu. He later formed his own SFX company, which created the Ultra of superhero TV shows. He also nursed a lifelong love for airplanes.

 13 
Hirokazu Koreeda
(Director, Producer)
Hirokazu Koreeda
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Birthdate: June 6, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nerima City, Tokyo, Japan

Hirokazu Koreeda is a Japanese film director, producer, and screenwriter. He loved movies from an early age and began his career as an assistant director on documentaries for TV. Eventually, he turned to screenwriting and direction and found tremendous success. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d'Or. 

 14 
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film critic, Journalist, Television director, Actor)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
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Birthdate: July 19, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kōbe

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a Japanese film director and film critic. He is also a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. Interested in filmmaking from a young age,he received his training under prominent film critic Shigehiko Hasumi before beginning his career. He has worked in numerous genres and is best known for his many contributions to the Japanese horror genre. 

 15 
Sion Sono
(actor, poet, novelist, film director, screenwriter)
Sion Sono
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Birthdate: December 20, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toyokawa

Sion Sono is a Japanese filmmaker, writer, and poet best known for the art-house comedy-drama film Love Exposure. He has been called a "stakhanovist filmmaker" by critics. He began his career as a poet and eventually entered cinema. Sex, cynicism, and cinema are common themes in his works. He is considered an auteur for his distinct style of film-making.  

 16 
Mamoru Oshii
(Director of popular anime Ghost in the Shell and Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer)
Mamoru Oshii
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Birthdate: August 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese writer, filmmaker, and television director. Renowned for incorporating philosophical values into his storytelling, Oshii's style of filmmaking has attracted praise from other popular directors like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. Over the years Mamoru Oshii has received nominations for several prestigious awards like the Golden Lion and Palme d'Or.

 17 
Kenji Mizoguchi
(Japanese Film Director and Screenwriter Known for His Long Takes and Mise-en-scène)
Kenji Mizoguchi
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Birthdate: May 16, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hongo, Tokyo, Japan
Died: August 24, 1956

Kenji Mizoguchi was a Japanese film director and screenwriter best known for his romantic fantasy drama film Ugetsu. He earned much acclaim for his style of filmography and stage design. He developed what became his signature "one-scene-one-shot" approach to cinema and is counted amongst the most acclaimed filmmakers in Japanese and world cinema history. 

 18 
Ishirō Honda
(Director)
Ishirō Honda
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Birthdate: May 7, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asahi, Japan
Died: February 28, 1993

Ishirō Honda was a Japanese filmmaker with an extensive career spanning 59 years. Beginning his career as a third assistant director, he went on to make his directorial debut with the short documentary film Ise-Shima. With 44 films to his credit, he is counted amongst the most internationally successful Japanese filmmakers of the 20th century. 

 19 
Shinya Tsukamoto
(Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Film editor)
Shinya Tsukamoto
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Birthdate: January 1, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo

Shinya Tsukamoto is a Japanese film director, producer, editor, screenwriter, production designer, art director, cinematographer, and actor. Best known for his 1989 film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which is widely regarded as the defining movie of the Cyberpunk movement in Japan, Tsukamoto enjoys a considerable cult following and is cited as an influence on famous Western filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino.

 20 
Kinji Fukasaku
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer)
Kinji Fukasaku
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Birthdate: July 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mito
Died: January 12, 2003

Kinji Fukasaku was a Japanese screenwriter and film director best remembered for directing a series of yakuza films, such as Battles Without Honor and Humanity, during the 1970s. Fukasaku's work has served as an inspiration for several Western filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and William Friedkin. Kinji Fukasaku is also one of the most celebrated filmmakers of his generation.

 21 
Yoshiaki Kawajiri
(Creator of Titles Such as Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.)
Yoshiaki Kawajiri
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Birthdate: November 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
 22 
Juzo Itami
(Actor)
Juzo Itami
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Birthdate: May 15, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: December 20, 1997
 23 
Shintaro Katsu
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Birthdate: November 29, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Died: June 21, 1997

Shintaro Katsu was a Japanese singer, actor, and filmmaker. He is remembered for playing important roles in popular film series like the Akumyo series and the Zatoichi series. Katsu's personal life, which included arrests in 1978, 1990, and 1992 for possession of drugs, overshadowed his professional achievements. Fujitora, a character from the manga series One Piece, is based on Katsu.

 24 
Kenzo Takada
(Fashion designer, Founder of Kenzo)
Kenzo Takada
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Birthdate: February 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Himeji, Hyōgo Japan
Died: October 4, 2020
 25 
Kazuaki Kiriya
(Photographer, Film director, Screenwriter, Film editor)
Kazuaki Kiriya
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Birthdate: April 20, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asagiri
 26 
Masaki Kobayashi
(Japanese Film Director and Screenwriter Best Known for His Epic Trilogy 'The Human Condition')
Masaki Kobayashi
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Birthdate: February 14, 1916
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
Died: October 4, 1996

Masaki Kobayashi was a Japanese filmmaker renowned for directing the trilogy The Human Condition. One of the most revered directors of his generation, Kobayashi's works were recognized internationally. In 1963, his film Harakiri was showcased at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize. Kobayashi is also credited with co-founding a directors group called The Four Horsemen Club.

 27 
Kan Mukai
(Japanese Director, Screenwriter and Cinematographer Known for His Pioneering Work in the 'Pink Film' Genre)
Kan Mukai
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Birthdate: October 16, 1937
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dalian, China
Died: June 9, 2008

Known as a pioneering filmmaker of the Japanese pink films, Kan Mukai had initially dropped out of an economics course to follow his passion of filmmaking. He helped launched the careers of many performers, such as the Roman Porno star Kazuko Shirakawa. He eventually lost his battle with cancer.

 28 
Seijun Suzuki
(Film director, Television director, Actor, Writer, Screenwriter)
Seijun Suzuki
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Birthdate: May 24, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nihonbashi
Died: February 13, 2017
 29 
Takashi Shimizu
(Film producer, Film director, Screenwriter, Writer)
Takashi Shimizu
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Birthdate: July 27, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Maebashi
 30 
Ryuhei Kitamura
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer)
Ryuhei Kitamura
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Birthdate: May 30, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ōsaka
 31 
Shinji Higuchi
(Screenwriter, Film director, Animator)
Shinji Higuchi
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Birthdate: September 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo
 32 
Hideo Nakata
(Film director)
Hideo Nakata
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Birthdate: July 19, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Okayama, Japan
 33 
Shunji Iwai
(Screenwriter, Film director, Film editor, Film producer, Composer, Lyricist)
Shunji Iwai
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Birthdate: January 24, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sendai
 34 
Nobuhiko Obayashi
(Film director)
Nobuhiko Obayashi
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Birthdate: January 9, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Higashitsuchidocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan
Died: April 10, 2020
 35 
Naomi Kawase
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film editor, Film producer, Cinematographer)
Naomi Kawase
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Birthdate: May 30, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nara
 36 
Ichikawa Kon
(Film Director)
Ichikawa Kon
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Birthdate: November 20, 1915
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ise, Japan
Died: February 13, 2008
 37 
Mikio Naruse
(Film director, Writer, Film producer, Screenwriter)
Mikio Naruse
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Birthdate: August 20, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tokyo
Died: July 2, 1969
 38 
Kaneto Shindo
(Film Director)
Kaneto Shindo
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Birthdate: April 22, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saeki District, Hiroshima, Japan
Died: May 29, 2012

Best known for his iconic movies such as The Naked Island and Children of Hiroshima, Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo initially wanted to be a screenwriter. Part of the Japanese navy during World War II, he later often used themes of war and social realism in his films.

 39 
Shoji Kawamori
(Anime Creator Known for Creating the 'Macross' Mecha Anime Franchise and the 'Diaclone' Toyline)
Shoji Kawamori
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Birthdate: February 20, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toyama City, Japan
 40 
Rintaro
(Film producer, Screenwriter, Film director)
Rintaro
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Birthdate: January 22, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo
 41 
Osamu Dezaki
(Film director, Screenwriter)
Osamu Dezaki
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Birthdate: November 18, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan
Died: April 17, 2011
 42 
Shohei Imamura
(Film director)
Shohei Imamura
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Birthdate: September 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: May 30, 2006
 43 
David Sakurai
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Birthdate: July 19, 1979
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark

Born to a Japanese father and a Danish mother, David Sakurai moved from Denmark to Japan at 18, to train in acting. After working in small-time films such as Tokyo G.P., he moved back to Denmark, and worked in films such as Liza, The Fox-Fairy and in series such as Iron Fist.

 44 
Nagisa Oshima
(One of the Foremost Directors Within the 'Japanese New Wave')
Nagisa Oshima
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Birthdate: March 31, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tamano, Okayama, Japan
Died: January 15, 2013
 45 
Hiroshi Teshigahara
(Film director, Sculptor, Potter)
Hiroshi Teshigahara
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Birthdate: January 28, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo
Died: April 14, 2001
 46 
Kōji Wakamatsu
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer)
Kōji Wakamatsu
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Birthdate: April 1, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wakuya
Died: October 17, 2012
 47 
Keisuke Kinoshita
(Film Director)
Keisuke Kinoshita
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Birthdate: December 5, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
Died: December 30, 1998
 48 
Kinuyo Tanaka
(Actress, Film director)
Kinuyo Tanaka
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Birthdate: November 29, 1909
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: March 21, 1977
 49 
Yōjirō Takita
(Film director)
Yōjirō Takita
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Birthdate: December 4, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Takaoka, Toyama, Japan
 50 
Teinosuke Kinugasa
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Birthdate: January 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kameyama, Japan
Died: February 26, 1982
Find out more about the greatest Japanese film Directors, including Hayao Miyazaki, Akira Kurosawa, Osamu Tezuka, Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike.