Famous Japanese Film & Theater Personalities

Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Film & Theater Personalities

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

 1 
Hayao Miyazaki
(One of the Most Accomplished Filmmakers in the History of Animation)
Hayao Miyazaki
7
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 
Pat Morita
(Actor and Comedian Known for His Role as ‘Miyagi’ in ‘The Karate Kid’ Film Series)
Pat Morita
6
Birthdate: June 28, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Isleton, California, United States
Died: November 24, 2005

American actor, voice actor, and comedian, Pat Morita first gained recognition with drama series Happy Days, though it was his inspiring performance as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid film series that really skyrocketed his fame. The Asian-American actor was also known for his TV movie Amos and animated movie Mulan and Mulan II where he voiced the Chinese Emperor.

 3 
Akira Kurosawa
(Japanese Filmmaker Who is Regarded as One of the Most Important & Influential Filmmakers in Film History)
Akira Kurosawa
4
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.

Recommended Lists:
 4 
Hiroyuki Sanada
(Actor & Martial Artist Known for His Role as ‘Genbu’ in the Film ‘Ninja in the Dragon's Den’)
Hiroyuki Sanada
21
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).

 5 
Ken Watanabe
12
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.

 6 
Maria Ozawa
(Adult Film Star, AV idol, Stripper, Actor, Glamour model, Model)
Maria Ozawa
6
Birthdate: January 8, 1986
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hokkaidō

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.

Recommended Lists:
 7 
Mako Iwamatsu
12
Birthdate: December 10, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kobe, Hyogo, 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.

 8 
Rinko Kikuchi
(Actress)
Rinko Kikuchi
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1981
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan

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.

Recommended Lists:
 9 
Kento Yamazaki
7
Birthdate: September 7, 1994
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Itabashi, Tokyo
Japanese actor/model Kento Yamazaki is best known for his performance as L in the series Death Note and as Minato Shindo in Good Doctor, with the latter winning him a Television Drama Academy Award. He also appeared in films such as Orange and previously modeled for Pichi Lemon magazine. 
 10 
Toshiro Mifune
(One of Japan's Greatest Actors Known Actors Who is Known for His Collaboration With Akira Kurosawa)
Toshiro Mifune
7
Birthdate: April 1, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Qingdao, 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.

 11 
Brian Tee
(Best Known for His Role as ‘Dr. Ethan Choi’ in the TV Series ‘Chicago Med’)
Brian Tee
9
Birthdate: March 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Okinawa, 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

 12 
Makoto Shinkai
(Film director, Voice actor, Animator, Screenwriter)
Makoto Shinkai
3
Birthdate: February 9, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Koumi

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.

 13 
Yasujirō Ozu
(Japanese Film Director and Screenwriter)
Yasujirō Ozu
2
Birthdate: December 12, 1903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: 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.

 14 
Masi Oka
(Best Known for His Roles in the TV Series: ‘Heroes’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0’)
Masi Oka
5
Birthdate: December 27, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shibuya, 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.
 15 
Haruma Miura
(Japanese Actor and Singer)
Haruma Miura
11
Birthdate: April 5, 1990
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tsuchiura, Ibaraki, Japan
Died: July 18, 2020

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.

 16 
Ayako Fujitani
(Japanese Writer and Actress)
Ayako Fujitani
3
Birthdate: December 7, 1979
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka, Japan

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.

 17 
Satoshi Kon
(Animator, Film director, Screenwriter, Mangaka)
Satoshi Kon
3
Birthdate: October 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kushiro
Died: August 24, 2010
 18 
Mamoru Miyano
(Japanese Actor and Singer Best Known for His Roles on 'Steins;Gate', 'Durarara!!' and 'Death Note')
Mamoru Miyano
5
Birthdate: June 8, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saitama Prefecture, Japan

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.

 19 
Takeshi Kaneshiro
(Actor and Singer Known for His Films: ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Red Cliff’ and ‘School Days’)
Takeshi Kaneshiro
4
Birthdate: October 11, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Taipei City, Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro was not seen in any major projects after his successful stint in the romantic comedy This Is Not What I Expected, till he announced he was part of the much-delayed Sons of the Neon Night. He is also popular as Samanosuke from the Onimusha video games.

 20 
Samaire Armstrong
(Actress)
Samaire Armstrong
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1980
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 5'5" (165 cm)
 21 
Tadanobu Asano
(Japanese Actor Known for His Films: 'Electric Dragon 80.000 V', 'Ichi the Killer' and 'Battleship')
Tadanobu Asano
4
Birthdate: November 27, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

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.

 22 
Osamu Tezuka
(Film director, Film producer, Mangaka, Animator, Physician, Writer, Designer, Screenwriter)
Osamu Tezuka
4
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. 

 23 
Takeshi Kitano
(Japanese Comedian, Actor and Filmmaker)
Takeshi Kitano
8
Birthdate: January 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Adachi, Tokyo

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.   

 24 
Kiko Mizuhara
(Actress, Model)
Kiko Mizuhara
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas

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.

 25 
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
(Japanese Voice Actor Best Known for Being the Voice of ‘Kirito’ in ‘Sword Art Online’)
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hokkaido, Japan

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.

 26 
Hideaki Anno
(Film director, Animator, Actor, Screenwriter, Film producer, Film actor)
Hideaki Anno
5
Birthdate: May 22, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ube
 27 
Rie Takahashi
(Japanese Voice Actress and Singer)
Rie Takahashi
2
Birthdate: February 27, 1994
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saitama, Japan
Japanese voice actor and singer Rie Takahashi is best known for her work in the anime series Seiyu's Life! She has voiced major characters in video games and anime films and series, such as Megumin in KonoSuba, Takagi in Teasing Master Takagi-san, and Hu Tao in Genshin Impact
 28 
Miyuki Sawashiro
(Voice Actor)
Miyuki Sawashiro
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tokyo
Her voice role as Puchiko in the English version of Leave it to Piyoko made Japanese voice actor Miyuki Sawashiro the first from her country to reprise a Japanese voice role in its English dubbed version. She had started learning English during her time in Pennsylvania in high school.
 29 
Sola Aoi
(Adult Film Star, Actor, Singer, AV idol, Tarento)
Sola Aoi
3
Birthdate: November 11, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo
Scouted by an agent when she was still in high school, Sola Aoi initially became a successful gravure model and later deviated to pornography. Originally named Suzuki Miho, she chose Sola Aoi as her pseudonym, meaning Blue Sky, indicating her favorite color. She later also tried her luck in singing.
 30 
Kana Hanazawa
( Japanese Actress and a Prolific Voice Performer in Anime)
Kana Hanazawa
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

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.

 31 
Natsuki Hanae
(Voice actor known for voicing Tanjiro Kamado in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul)
Natsuki Hanae
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1991
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 32 
Takuya Kimura
(Japanese Actor, Singer and Member of Boy Bands ‘SMAP’)
Takuya Kimura
4
Birthdate: November 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

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.

 33 
Sonny Chiba
(Japanese Actor and Martial Artist Known for His Role in the 1974 Film 'The Street Fighter')
Sonny Chiba
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan
Died: August 19, 2021

Sadao Maeda, better known as Sonny Chiba, was initially a talented gymnast, aspiring to be part of the Japanese Olympic team, though a back injury ended his sports career. Trained in martial arts, he later soared to fame with movies such as The Street Fighter. He died of COVID-19 at age 82.

 34 
Takeru Satoh
(Actor, Singer)
Takeru Satoh
6
Birthdate: March 21, 1989
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Iwatsuki-ku

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.

 35 
Shun Oguri
(Japanese Actor and Voice Actor)
Shun Oguri
5
Birthdate: December 26, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 36 
Hiroshi Kamiya
(Japanese Voice Actor, Singer and Narrator)
Hiroshi Kamiya
5
Birthdate: January 28, 1975
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chiba, Japan

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.

 37 
Isao Takahata
(Japanese Director, Screenwriter and Producer Who was the Co-founder of Studio 'Ghibli')
Isao Takahata
3
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.

 38 
Sessue Hayakawa
(Actor, Novelist, Screenwriter, Film director)
Sessue Hayakawa
5
Birthdate: June 10, 1889
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chiba
Died: November 23, 1973

Sessue Hayakawa was a Japanese actor who became a popular Hollywood star during the silent film era. He was the first Asian actor to achieve stardom in Europe and the United States of America. Renowned for portraying sexually dominant villains, Sessue Hayakawa became a heartthrob among American women; he was also one of Hollywood's first male sex symbols.

 39 
Koyuki
(Actress, Model)
Koyuki
2
Birthdate: December 18, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture

Koyuki is a Japanese actress and model best known for her portrayal of Hiromi Ishizaki in the 2005 film Always: Sunset on Third Street, for which she received a nomination for Best Actress at the 29th Japan Academy Film Prize in 2006. Over the course of her career, Koyuki has also won awards, such as the Nikkan Sports Film Award.

 40 
Takahiro Sakurai
(Voice Actor)
Takahiro Sakurai
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Okazaki, Japan
 41 
Takashi Miike
(Japanese Film Director, Producer and Screenwriter)
Takashi Miike
6
Birthdate: August 24, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yao, Osaka, Japan

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.

 42 
Tao Okamoto
(Actress)
Tao Okamoto
3
Birthdate: May 22, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chiba, Japan
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 43 
Ayane Sakura
(Japanese Voice Actress Known for Her Manga Series: ‘Non Non Biyori’, ‘Boarding School Juliet’ and ‘My Hero Academia’)
Ayane Sakura
2
Birthdate: January 29, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan
Japanese voice actor Ayane Sakura soared to fame with her voice work in manga and anime projects such as Is the Order a Rabbit? and My Hero Academia. The Seiyu Award-winning artist has earned the nickname Ayaneru because of her love for sleeping in her spare time.
 44 
Tomokazu Sugita
(Japanese Voice Actor and Author)
Tomokazu Sugita
3
Birthdate: October 11, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saitama, Japan
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 45 
Maaya Sakamoto
(Actress)
Maaya Sakamoto
2
Birthdate: March 31, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Itabashi City, Tokyo, Japan

One of the best-known Japanese voice actors, Maaya Sakamoto soared to fame with her performances as Kiyomi Takada in Death Note and Lunamaria Hawke in Gundam Seed Destiny. She is also a successful singer and a sociology major. She has also dubbed for films such as the Star Wars trilogy.

 46 
Rie Kugimiya
(Japanese Voice Actress Best Known for Her Voice Performances in Anime 'Fullmetal Alchemist’ Series)
Rie Kugimiya
3
Birthdate: May 30, 1979
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

Seiyu Award-winning voice actor Rie Kugimiya is best known for her work in anime/manga productions such as Toradora! and Nabari no Ou. Known as the Queen of Tsundere, she is fond of reading in her leisure time. She has also appeared on stage and in video games.

 47 
Mamoru Hosoda
(Japanese Film Director and Animator)
Mamoru Hosoda
2
Birthdate: September 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kamiichi, Toyama, Japan

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.

 48 
Junichi Suwabe
(Voice actor)
Junichi Suwabe
6
Birthdate: March 29, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 49 
Masaaki Yuasa
(Japanese Director, Screenwriter and Animator)
Masaaki Yuasa
2
Birthdate: March 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan

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. 

 50 
Kaito Ishikawa
(Japanese Voice Actor Who Voiced ‘Nero’ in ‘Devil May Cry’ and ‘Genos’ in ‘One Punch Man’)
Kaito Ishikawa
2
Birthdate: October 13, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Initially, when Kaito Ishikawa decided to become a voice actor, his parents were against him, which made him fund his own voice-acting training through part-time jobs. The Seiyu Award-winning voice actor is known for his work in video games, films, and anime/manga series, such One Punch Man and Tokyo Ghoul.