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.
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.
Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese poet and novelist. She is credited with authoring one of the world's first novels, The Tale of Genji. Murasaki's works played a key role in establishing Japanese as a written language and she continues to influence Japanese writers. Over the years, she has also been a popular subject of illustrations and paintings in Japan.
Tsugumi Ohba is a Japanese writer best known for writing the popular manga series Death Note. Ohba, whose real identity is a well-guarded secret, is also known for writing other successful manga series like Bakuman and Platinum End. In 2008, Tsugumi Ohba was honored with the prestigious Eagle Award under Favourite Manga category for Death Note.
Yasunari Kawabata was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose subtly-shaded prose works earned him the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature, making him the first Japanese writer to receive the prestigious award. Yasunari Kawabata played a major role in the translation of Japanese literature into several Western languages including English. His works are still read all over the world.
Lafcadio Hearn was a writer best remembered for writing about Japanese culture. His writings about Japan threw light on the previously unknown but fascinating culture of Japan. It also helped the Western world understand Japanese culture. Many of his stories have been adapted into films and theatrical productions.
Megumi Yokota is a Japanese woman who was among at least 17 Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Yokota was kidnapped by a North Korean agent in 1977. Yokota has been missing for more than 43 years and several Japanese citizens have waged a campaign seeking her return. However, the North Korean government has claimed that she died in captivity.
Kenzaburō Ōe is a Japanese writer whose essays, short stories, and novels deal with social, philosophical, and political issues such as nuclear power, nuclear weapons, existentialism, and social non-conformism. An influential personality in contemporary Japanese literature, Kenzaburō Ōe was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for his works.
Soseki Natsume was a Japanese novelist best remembered for his novels Botchan, Kusamakura, Kokoro, and I Am a Cat. He is credited with influencing other popular writers like Kume Masao and Akutagawa Ryūnosuke. Natsume's works have caught the attention of global readers in the 21st century; since 2001 his books have been translated into 10 languages, including English and Dutch.
Ai Iijima was a Japanese writer, media personality, actress, and activist. She is best remembered for appearing in a softcore porn variety TV show titled Gilgamesh Night. After ending her career as a softcore porn actress, Iijima became associated with campaigns that aimed at educating people about HIV/AIDS.
Tanizaki Jun'ichirō was a Japanese author whose works made him a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964. Widely regarded as one of the most important personalities in modern Japanese literature, Tanizaki's work ranges from the depictions of erotic obsessions to the dynamics of family life in 20th-century Japan. Many of his works have been adapted into films.
Yoshiyuki Tomino is a Japanese novelist, mecha anime creator, director, screenwriter, animator, and songwriter. He is credited with creating a popular Japanese military science fiction media franchise named Gundam. The Gundam franchise, which features giant robots, has given rise to several spin-offs and video games. Gundam is curently viewed as a Japanese cultural icon.
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.
Banana Yoshimoto is a Japanese writer whose debut work Kitchen inspired a couple of film adaptations. Kitchen also earned her the sixth Kaien Newcomers' Literary Prize in 1987. The following year, she received the 16th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature for a novella titled Moonlight Shadow. Her 1989 novel Goodbye Tsugumi inspired the 1990 movie Tugumi.
Reki Kawahara is a Japanese author best known for writing Japanese light novel series, such as Accel World and Sword Art Online. Both the series have been adapted into anime and the Sword Art Online series has been adapted into an animated adventure film titled Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale. Kawahara is also credited with writing The Isolator.
Akiyuki Nosaka was a Japanese novelist, lyricist, and singer. He is best remembered for his children's stories about wars. In 1967, two of his stories namely American Hijiki and Grave of the Fireflies won the prestigious Naoki Prize. Many of his works, including his novel, The Pornographers, and short story, Grave of the Fireflies, have been adapted into films.
Japanese surrealist author Kōbō Abe is remembered for his Kafka-esque style and his bestselling novels such as The Woman in the Dunes. Though he studied medicine, pushed into it by his physician father, he never practiced. The Akutagawa Prize winner was also initially a communist but was later expelled.
Edogawa Ranpo was a Japanese author who played an important role in the progression of Japanese mystery fiction. Ranpo is credited with creating the popular fictional private detective Kogoro Akechi who appears in many of his novels. A number of Ranpo's works have been adapted into films and series. The 1999 film Gemini was inspired by one of Ranpo's stories.
Apart from serving as the governor of Tokyo, Japanese right-wing politician Shintaro Ishihara has also been an accomplished writer. He wrote the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Season of the Sun when he was still in school and later contributed to various plays and screenplays, too.
Widely known by her penname, Natsuo Kirino, celebrated Japanese writer, Mariko Hashioka, began her writing career in her early thirties, earning a degree in law, attending script-writing classes and doing odd jobs before that. When her initial attempt to write romantic novels proved a non-starter she switched to mystery, very soon becoming a leading figure in the Japanese detective fictions.
Often considered an eccentric and superstitious writer, Kyōka Izumi chiefly wrote on fantasy, producing numerous novels, short stories and haiku plays in the backdrop of distinctive and yet supernatural world, using fantasy to criticize many social norms and practices. Initially trained by Ozaki Kōyō, Izumi has produced several masterpieces, including The Holy Man of Mount Kōya and Worship at Yushima.
Remembered for his contribution to the revival of the Japanese literature, Ihara Saikaku was possibly the most popular writer in the entire Tokugawa period. Beginning his career with haikai no renga, depicting contemporary chōnin life through them, he later started writing novels, creating floating world genre of literature; Life of an Amorous Man was his first work of this variety.
Fujiwara no Teika was a Japanese anthologist, literary critic, calligrapher, novelist, scribe, and poet. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Japanese poets of all time, Fujiwara no Teika was very influential during the late-Heian and early-Kamakura periods. Considered the greatest exponent of the waka form, Fujiwara no Teika's ideas dominated classical Japanese poetry for centuries after his death.
One of Japan's most distinguished female authors, Yūko Tsushima wrote mostly about marginalized section of the society, including abandoned women who try to break out of the assigned gender roles, drawing many of the characters from her personal experience as single mother. Winner of numerous national and international awards, her works have been translated into at least 13 languages.
Award-winning Japanese manga-artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi is generally credited for starting the gekiga style of alternative manga in Japan. This style of Japanese comics (name coined by Tatsumi in 1957) features more mature themes, graphic and violence. Noted works of Tatsumi in this style include Black Blizzard, The Push Man and Other Stories and Fallen Words.
Phyllis Ayame Whitney was an American writer best remembered for writing mystery novels. Dubbed the Queen of the American Gothics, Whitney won an Edgar Award for her book The Mystery of the Haunted Pool in 1961. In 1988, she was honored with the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America for her overall contribution.
Kobayashi Takiji was a Japanese author best remembered for his short novel Crab Cannery Ship, which narrates the hardship faced by seamen, fishermen, and cannery workers aboard a cannery ship. Many of his works have been translated into several languages, including English, Spanish, and French among other languages. His death helped throw light on the brutality of the Tokkō police.
Fumiko Hayashi was a Japanese poet and novelist whose works are remembered for their feminist themes. Many of her works, which revolved around troubled relationships and free-spirited women, were adapted into films. Her best-known work Hōrōki was not only adapted into an anime but was also translated into English. Fumiko Hayashi's life inspired a biographical film titled A Wanderer's Notebook.
Sakyo Komatsu was a Japanese writer and screenwriter. Counted among the most popular and influential science fiction writers in Japan, Komatsu is best known for writing such novels as Sayonara Jupiter and Japan Sinks, which were adapted into films. In 1985, he won the prestigious Nihon SF Taisho Award for his work.
Shiga Naoya was a Japanese short story writer and novelist best remembered for his works produced during the Shōwa and Taishō periods of Japan. He is credited with co-founding an influential literary magazine named Shirakaba which was published from 1910 to 1923. He is also credited with popularizing the I Novel literary form.
Ozaki Kōyō was a Japanese poet and author. He is credited with founding a literary magazine called Ken'yūsha which was published widely during Meiji era Japan. Some of his works, such as Tajō Takon and Konjiki Yasha, were serialized for magazines. Ozaki Kōyō is also credited with mentoring students like Izumi Kyōka and Tokuda Shūsei, who became famous authors themselves.
Takeo Arishima was a Japanese short-story writer, novelist, and essayist who worked during the Taishō and late Meiji periods. In addition to being a writer, Takeo Arishima also served as a teacher at his alma mater. Many of his major works, including Aru Onna and Kain no Matsuei, were translated into English by popular authors.
Inoue Yasushi was a Japanese novelist, poet, short story writer, and essayist. Best remembered for writing autobiographical and historical fiction, Yasushi received several prestigious awards including the Akutagawa Prize, Noma Literary Prize, Yomiuri Prize, Kikuchi Kan Prize, and Asahi Prize. Many of his works have been adapted into films, TV series, and stage shows.
Enchi Fumiko was a Japanese writer whose novel, Days of Hunger, earned her the Women's Literature Prize in 1954. One of the most important and popular women writers of the Shōwa era, Enchi also won the Noma Literary Prize for her novel The Waiting Years. Her works were renowned for incorporating elements of eroticism, realism, and fantasy.
Hiroshi Mori is a Japanese engineer and writer best known for writing mystery novels like The Perfect Insider which earned him the prestigious Mephisto Prize in 1996. He has also served as an assistant professor at several institutions like Mie University and Nagoya University.
Kan Kikuchi was a Japanese author who founded a popular publishing company called Bungeishunjū and a successful magazine of the same name. He is also credited with establishing the Naoki and Akutagawa Prize for popular literature as well as the Japan Writer's Association. Kikuchi also served as the head of Daiei Motion Picture Company which was later renamed Kadokawa Pictures.
Nagai Kafū was a Japanese author, essayist, playwright, and diarist. He is credited with depicting the lives of prostitutes, geishas, and cabaret dancers in early 20th-century Tokyo through his works. Many of his works such as Ude Kurabe have been translated into English.