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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Born to a Japanese mother and a French-Canadian father, Maria Ozawa was raised in Japan and began her career in adult films at age 19. Also known as Miyabi, she has worked on Japanese TV shows and has also worked as a model. She is also known as an AV Idol.
Mark Dacascos is an actor, trained martial artist, and TV personality. He is proficient in the Wun Hop Kuen Do style of martial arts and has won several karate and kung fu championships. As an actor, he is best known for his role in the action-horror film Brotherhood of the Wolf. He is married to actress Julie Condra.
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.
Rinko Kikuchi is a Japanese actress who received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Chieko Wataya in the 2006 psychological drama film Babel. Rinko is the first Japanese actress to receive an Oscar nomination in five decades. Her work in Babel also earned her several awards, such as Gotham Awards and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award.
11 Haruma Miura
Once a popular child actor, Haruma Miura stormed the Japanese film scene after an impactful performance as Hiro in Koizora. He had also tried his luck in singing and had starred in series such as Last Cinderella. He shocked his fans by committing suicide by hanging at age 30.
Glenn Howerton is an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. Howerton is known for playing important roles in TV series like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, A.P. Bio, and That '80s Show. He has also appeared in popular movies like Must Love Dogs, Crank, and Everything Must Go.
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.
Japanese author, poet, and playwright Yukio Mishima is counted amongst the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. His best-known works feature a fusion of traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles. He was the founder of the Tatenokai, an unarmed private militia dedicated to traditional Japanese values. He was considered controversial due to his political activities.
Best known for his animated film Your Name, which became the third-highest-grossing anime movie in history, animator and manga artist Makoto Shinkai had initially studied Japanese literature. His Weathering with You was Japan’s official submission for Best International Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. He is also dubbed The New Miyazaki.
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.
18 Yasujiro Ozu
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.
Japanese actor Tadanobu Satō, better known as Tadanobu Asano, had begun his acting career at 16, with the show Kimpachi Sensei, at his father’s insistence. He later gained critical acclaim with roles in films such as Maborosi and Fried Dragon Fish. He has also sung for the band Mach 1.67.
20 Brian Tee
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.
Daughter of Hollywood actor Steven Seagal and Japanese aikido specialist Miyako Fujitani, Ayako Fujitani appeared as a lead actor in Man from Reno. A skilled writer, she has also released several books, both fiction and non-fiction. She has also directed a short play and performed as part of a band.
22 Satoshi Kon
23 Masi Oka
Born to a Korean-Japanese mother and an American father, Kiko Mizuhara plunged into modeling after winning a Seventeen Japan contest. After winning hearts in the Japanese modeling circuit, she became a Chanel ambassador. Her designs, made in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, have been worn by artists such as Beyoncé.
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.
26 Osamu Tezuka
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.
Best known for his award-winning voice role of Light Yagami in the manga series Death Note, Mamoru Miyano is an anime artist who has also released singles such as Kuon and Discovery. The artist, who is also known as Mamo, or Mamo-chan, is also a skilled harmonica/harp player.
29 Sola Aoi
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is a Japanese singer and voice actor from Hokkaido. Best known for voicing popular animated characters like Kazuto Kirigaya, Sorata Kanda, Arata Kasuga, and Masamune Izumi, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka holds the Guinness World Record for the most unique sound bites produced by a voice actor.
31 James Iha
Japanese voice actor Nobuhiko Okamoto is best known for his award-winning performances in anime series such as A Certain Magical Index and Persona: Trinity Soul. He is also a certified shogi player and has participated in several shogi events. He has also tried his luck in singing.
34 Tao Okamoto
Once a reputed Japanese martial artist and wrestler, Antonio Inoki grew up in Brazil, where he won several contests of shot put, discus, and javelin. At 17, he went to the Japanese Wrestling Association and was mentored by Rikidōzan. He later established the New Japan Pro Wrestling.
36 Hideaki Anno
37 Kairi Sane
WWE wrestler and actor Kaori Housako, better known as Kairi Sane, initially represented Japanese women’s wrestling promotion Stardom, as Kairi Hojo, and also won many honors, such as the Artist of Stardom. She is also skilled in yachting, holds a degree in Japanese literature, and has taught Japanese in Cambodia.
Born in Japan, to a Korean-Japanese mother and an African-American father, Merle Dandridge grew up in Nebraska and later gained a scholarship to study theater. She is known for Broadway musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and series such as Greenleaf. She has also appeared in the video-game series Half-Life 2.
40 Sada Abe
Takuya Kimura is a Japanese actor, radio personality, and singer. He is best known for his association with SMAP, one of East Asia's best-selling boy bands. After starting his career as a singer, Kimura found considerable success as an actor, which catapulted him to stardom and turned him into a Japanese icon. His acting skills have earned him several awards.
Japanese pop icon Ayumi Hamasaki had started a TV career after moving to Tokyo at 14. She later gained fame with her dance hits and ballads. Also known for her dramatic costumes and videos, The Empress of J-pop has been rendered totally deaf in one ear, owing to a ear infection.
Tokyo-born Rila Fukushima initially wished to be a model agent but ended up being one of Japan’s most popular models, walking the ramp for Louis Vuitton and gracing magazines such as Vogue Japan. She later appeared in The Wolverine and the series Arrow and Gunshi Kanbei.
Best known as an anime voice actor, Kana Hanazawa began her career at 14, voicing Holly Mad-thane in Last Exile. She was also seen as a child actor in programs such as Yappari Sanma Daisensei. Known by many nicknames such as KanaHana and Zaa-san, she has also released several albums.
Initially a karate enthusiast, Hiroshi Kamiya later deviated to theater and eventually became one of the most successful anime artists in Japan. He is best known as Trafalgar Law from One Piece and has also co-hosted the radio show Dear Girl: Stories. He often collaborates with director Akiyuki Shinbo.
48 Takeru Satoh
Scouted while still in high school, Takeru Satoh is best known as Ryotaro Nogami from the Kamen Rider Den-O franchise. He had earlier worked as a child actor and was also skilled in baseball and martial arts. He has also starred in the live-action movie Rurouni Kenshin, based on a popular manga.
Best known as the creator of the game series Super Smash Bros. and Kirby, Masahiro Sakurai initially worked for HAL Laboratory but quit it later and began his own company, Sora, as he wasn’t too keen on the sequels HAL was creating. His diagnosis of calcific tendinitis posed a threat to his career.