Famous Japanese Artists & Painters

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Find out more about the greatest Japanese Painters, including Hokusai, Takeshi Kitano, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Hiroshige.
Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Artists & Painters
 1 
Yayoi Kusama
(Contemporary Artist)
Yayoi Kusama
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama is known for her variety of artforms, including sculpture, installations, paintings, and fashion. She mingles elements such as feminism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism, and expresses her struggle with mental illness through her art. She has also published books and produced an award-winning film. 
 2 
Akira Toriyama
(Japanese Manga Artist)
Akira Toriyama
7
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.

 3 
Junji Ito
(Japanese Horror Mangaka and Writer)
Junji Ito
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: 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. 

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 4 
Masashi Kishimoto
(Manga Artist)
Masashi Kishimoto
6
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. 
 5 
Eiichiro Oda
(Japanese manga artist)
Eiichiro Oda
4
Birthdate: January 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture

Eiichiro Oda is a Japanese manga artist best known as the creator of the series One Piece. The series is both the best-selling manga and the best-selling comic series of all time. He decided to become a manga artist as a child and began working as an assistant manga artist as a teenager, quickly gaining fame and fortune. 

 6 
Katsushika Hokusai
6
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.

 7 
Hirohiko Araki
(Japanese Manga Artist Known for His Long-Running Series ‘JoJo's Bizarre Adventure’)
Hirohiko Araki
4
Birthdate: June 7, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Hirohiko Araki is a Japanese manga artist best known for writing and illustrating the popular manga series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which has sold more than 100 million copies in Japan. Also a responsible citizen, Hirohiko Araki drew artwork depicting the Hiraizumi ruins in an attempt to raise awareness of the reconstruction efforts of the ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 8 
Yoko Ono
(Artist and Musician Who Was an Influential Practitioner of Conceptual & Performance Art)
Yoko Ono
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Birthdate: February 18, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Yoko Ono is a Japanese multimedia artist, peace activist, and singer-songwriter. She came into prominence after marrying John Lennon of the Beatles. She is widely criticized for her unquestionable influence over John Lennon and his music. She is also often blamed for the disbandment of The Beatles. Despite all these criticisms, Yoko Ono continues to go on her merry way.

 9 
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. 

 10 
Takashi Murakami
(Contemporary Artist Who Is the Founder and President of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd)
Takashi Murakami
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist who works in both fine arts media and commercial arts media. He is known for blurring the line between “high” and “low” arts. He is the founder of the art production and artist management company Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. He has collaborated with the fashion brand Louis Vuitton as well. 

 11 
Naoko Takeuchi
(One of the Most Popular Manga Series of All Time)
Naoko Takeuchi
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kofu, Yamanashi, Japan

Japanese manga artist Naoko Takeuchi is best known as the author of Sailor Moon, a multiple-award-winning manga series. She was interested in becoming a manga artist from a young age. However, she studied chemistry in college to please her father. Shortly after graduation, she entered the manga industry and found success in her chosen field within a few years.

 12 
Hiromu Arakawa
(Japanese Manga Artist Best Known for the Manga Series ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’)
Hiromu Arakawa
4
Birthdate: May 8, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Makubetsu, Hokkaido, Japan
Raised on a farm, Hiromu Arakawa realized her potential as a manga artist early in life and thus went to Tokyo to try her luck. The Shogakugan Manga Award-winning artist is now known for her internationally renowned Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, which has given birth to an entire franchise.
 13 
Tite Kubo
(Manga artist)
Tite Kubo
4
Birthdate: June 26, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hiroshima Prefecture

Tite Kubo decided to become a manga artist while studying in his elementary school, publishing several one-shot manga before he published his first series, Zombiepowder, at the age of 21. However, it was his second series, Bleach, which made him internationally known. It was also adapted as a successful television series and film.

 14 
Naoki Urasawa
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan

Award-winning Japanese manga artist Naoki Urasawa is best known for his thriller Monster and the sci-fi 20th Century Boys. Fans love his intricate and psychologically complicated plots. He also teaches at the Nagoya Zokei University and is a skilled rock musician who once performed as Bob Lennon.

 15 
Yoshitaka Amano
(Character designer, Sculptor, Illustrator, Artist, Blogger, Animator, Painter)
Yoshitaka Amano
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1952
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shizuoka

Japanese visual artist and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano is a renowned name in the animation industry. Apart from creating iconic characters such as Gatchaman, he has also illustrated for the video game series Final Fantasy. The Inkpot Award winner has also worked for two Vampire Hunter D movies.

 16 
Hiroshige
(painter)
Hiroshige
4
Birthdate: 1797 AD
Birthplace: Edo
Died: October 12, 1858

Best known for his landscape series like The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō and One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, Hiroshige was a well-known ukiyo-e master, whose death marked the decline of this genre of art.  His works, which were generally characterized by subtle use of graded colors and multiple impressions, were source of inspiration to many 19-century European painters.

 17 
Takeshi Kitano
(Comedian)
Takeshi Kitano
4
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.   

 18 
Rumiko Takahashi
(Japanese manga artist)
Rumiko Takahashi
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Niigata, Niigata Prefecture

Rumiko Takahashi is a Japanese manga artist counted among the country’s best-known and wealthiest manga artists. She began her career in the late 1970s and has created numerous commercially successful works. In 2019, she received the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, becoming the second woman to win the prize. She has been inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame.  

 19 
Utagawa Kuniyoshi
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1798
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: April 14, 1861

Nineteenth-century Japanese painter and printmaker Utagawa Kuniyoshi was one of the major figures behind the ukiyo-e style of woodwork. Born to a silk-dyer, he had started as a print designer. While he initially specialized in warrior prints, he later also worked on landscapes, such as the series Famous Sights of Edo.

 20 
Tsuguharu Foujita
(Japanese–French Painter and Printmaker)
Tsuguharu Foujita
3
Birthdate: November 27, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: January 29, 1968

Tsuguharu Foujita was a Japanese expatriate painter, known for his nude paintings, portraits, city scenes and painting of cats. Moving to Paris at the age of 25, he made friends with many aspiring artists including Picasso and Matisse, shortly becoming famous for his Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy. He turned to more religious subjects towards the end of his lucrative career.  

 21 
Utamaro
(painter)
Utamaro
3
Birthdate: 1753 AD
Birthplace: Edo
Died: 1806 AD

One of the most renowned ukiyo-e woodblock artists of Japan, Utamaro is remembered mostly for his portraits of women, such as The Seven Beauties of the Gay Quarters. However, after painting Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wives and mistresses, he was punished for insulting the military leader, leading to the end of his career.

 22 
Hajime Sorayama
(Artist, Illustrator, Painter)
Hajime Sorayama
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Imabari

Japanese illustrator and artist Hajime Sorayama is best known for his innovative creations, such as life-size eroticized robots. While he was initially interested in Greek and English literature, his love for drawing sexualized characters took over later. He has also designed album covers for Aerosmith and worked on Sony’s AIBO.

 23 
Kuroda Seiki
(Painter)
Kuroda Seiki
3
Birthdate: August 9, 1866
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: July 15, 1924
An aristocrat, Kuroda Seiki was sent to Paris by his father to study law but began studying painting soon after. His nudes Sentiment, Impression, and Wisdom mingled Japanese and Western art. His best-known painting, Lakeside, depicts his wife, Teruko, dressed in a kimono and sitting by a lake in Hakone.
 24 
Suehiro Maruo
(Artist, Illustrator, Mangaka, Painter)
Suehiro Maruo
3
Birthdate: January 28, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nagasaki
Manga artist Suehiro Maruo worked as a bookbinder after dropping out of senior high school. He soon began working for erotic magazines and contributed to the manga series Ribon no Kishi. He later adopted a signature style of depicting grotesque violence and sex. His work Midori was translated into Italian. 
 25 
Yoshitomo Nara
(Artist, Painter, Sculptor, Photographer)
Yoshitomo Nara
3
Birthdate: December 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hirosaki

After graduating from Aichi University, Yoshitomo Nara studied in Düsseldorf. Most of paintings and sculptures, such as Light My Fire, depict children in various moods. In works such as Nachtwandern, he was also seen mingling Japanese and Western cultures. He has also experimented with stuffed animals and plywood.

 26 
Yoshitoshi
(Engraver, Painter, Poet)
Yoshitoshi
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1839
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edo
Died: June 9, 1892

One of the greatest ukiyo-e woodblock artists of Japan, Yoshitoshi depicted everything from folklore and kabuki subjects to ghost stories through his works. A student of Kuniyoshi, he suffered immense mental trauma during the Meiji Restoration. He later worked as Taiso but spent his final years in an asylum.

 27 
Kazuo Koike
(Screenwriter, Writer, Comics artist)
Kazuo Koike
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Daisen, Akita, Japan
Died: April 17, 2019
 28 
Sharaku
(Print Designer)
Sharaku
3
Birthdate: 1794 AD
Birthplace: Edo, Japan
 29 
On Kawara
(Painter)
On Kawara
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kariya
Died: July 10, 2014

On Kawara stunned art lovers with his paintings of dismembered bodies in the mid-1950s. The Japanese conceptual artist is best known for his Today series, or Date series, which contained over 2,000 paintings created in more than 100 cities. Following extensive tours across Europe, he eventually settled in New York.

 30 
Sesshū Tōyō
(One of the Greatest Painters in Japanese History)
Sesshū Tōyō
3
Birthdate: 1420 AD
Birthplace: Bitchū, Ashikaga shogunate, Japan
Died: August 26, 1506

Born into a samurai family, Sesshū Tōyō grew up to be a master painter of the Muromachi period. He excelled in monochrome ink and wash painting, also known as sumi-e. His works depicted Buddhist scenes and nature. Long Scroll of Landscapes remains one of his best-known paintings.

 31 
Kunisada
(Japanese Portrait Painter)
Kunisada
3
Birthdate: 1786 AD
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: January 12, 1865

Kunisada was one of the most successful ukiyo-e woodblock artists of Japan. He is best remembered for his portraits of actors and erotic depictions of women. The Hours of the Yoshiwara and Shunga remain some of his best-known works. He had also illustrated for Nise murasaki inaka genji.

 32 
Akira Yoshizawa
(Origamist)
Akira Yoshizawa
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kaminokawa, Tochigi, Japan
Died: March 14, 2005

Legendary Japanese origamist Akira Yoshizawa had authored around 18 books and created over 50,000 models in his lifetime. He went from selling tsukudani to winning the Order of the Rising Sun. He had chanced upon origami while teaching geometry to his subordinates at the factory where he worked.

 33 
Hishikawa Moronobu
2
Birthdate: 1618 AD
Birthplace: Kyonan, Chiba, Japan
Died: July 25, 1694

Japanese artist Hishikawa Moronobu is noted for popularizing the ukiyo-e genre of woodblock prints and paintings during the late 17th century. He is credited for producing the first ukiyo-e woodblock prints. A prolific illustrator, Moronobu worked in different genres and developed a unique style of portraying female beauties. He produced over 100 illustrated books and single-sheet images.

 34 
Yosa Buson
(Japanese Poet and Painter of the Edo Period)
Yosa Buson
2
Birthdate: 1716 AD
Birthplace: Settsu Province, Japan
Died: January 17, 1784

Though born into an affluent Japanese family, Yosa Buson renounced his wealth and traveled far and wide to master painting and the art of haiku. His poetic experiments included mingling Chinese and Japanese poetry. He played a major role in popularizing the Nan-ga style of Japanese painting.

 35 
Mitsuteru Yokoyama
2
Birthdate: June 18, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kōbe, Japan
Died: April 15, 2004

Japanese manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama is best known for writing and illustrating the manga Tetsujin 28-gō, which was adapted into several anime television series and films and is credited for featuring the first humanoid giant robot that is controlled by an operator through remote control. Other works of Yokoyama include manga series like Giant Robo, Babel II and Princess Comet.

 36 
Keiji Nakazawa
(Comic artist)
Keiji Nakazawa
0
Birthdate: March 14, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Naka-ku, Hiroshima, Japan
Died: December 19, 2012
 37 
Itō Jakuchū
(Painter)
Itō Jakuchū
2
Birthdate: March 1, 1716
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kyōto, Japan
Died: October 27, 1800

Japanese painter Itō Jakuchū of the mid-Edo period is best-recognised for his paintings that traditionally featured Japanese subjects, especially his detailed and lifelike paintings of chickens and other birds. A reputed artist of the Kyoto art community, Jakuchū received several personal commissions as well as commissions for painting panels or screens for different Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan.

 38 
Tarō Okamoto
(Sculptor, Painter, Artist, Writer, Photographer, Potter)
Tarō Okamoto
2
Birthdate: February 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kawasaki
Died: January 7, 1996

Japanese muralist, sculptor, and painter Tarō Okamoto is best remembered for his avant-garde art. He had studied at the Panthéon Sorbonne and was also known as the Japanese Picasso for his fascination with Pablo Picasso. His works, such as The Law of the Jungle, depicted monstrous creatures.

 39 
Yasumasa Morimura
2
Birthdate: June 11, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ōsaka, Japan

Japanese appropriation artist Yasumasa Morimura, who showcases his works primarily in international solo-exhibitions, is most noted for creating large-scale self-portraits that are often superimposed on images of figures from history and art history like Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and self-portraits of Frida Kahlo. Doublonnage (Marcel), the signature photograph of Morimura, features him as Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Sélavy.

 40 
Kawanabe Kyōsai
2
Birthdate: May 18, 1831
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Koga, Japan
Died: April 26, 1889

Also known as The Painting Demon, caricaturist and painter Kawanabe Kyōsai is credited with creating what is now known as the first manga magazine, Eshinbun Nipponchi. His works were largely inspired by Japanese folklore and culture. He was often arrested by the shogunate for his rebellious works.

 41 
Ogata Kōrin
(Japanese Landscape Illustrator, Lacquerer, Painter, and Textile Designer)
Ogata Kōrin
2
Birthdate: 1658 AD
Birthplace: Kyōto, Japan
Died: June 2, 1716

Best known for his paintings on folding screens, ceramic figures, writing boxes, and fans, Ogata Kōrin rejuvenated the Rinpa school of Japanese art. Apart from painting, he also specialized in textile designing and lacquerwork. Though born to a wealthy calligrapher, he later lost his riches due to his extravagance.

 42 
Hasegawa Tōhaku
2
Birthdate: 1539 AD
Birthplace: Nanao, Japan
Died: March 19, 1610

Hasegawa Tōhaku, one of the significant figures of the Azuchi-Momoyama period, is remembered for pioneering the Hasegawa school of painting. His Pine Trees is a celebrated piece of art. He specialized in painting panels, folding screens, and doors, such as the landscape painted on the doors of the Daikoku Temple.

 43 
Shōji Hamada
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1894
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kawasaki, Japan
Died: January 5, 1978

Japanese potter Shōji Hamada, a prominent figure of the mingei folk-art movement, revitalized pottery-making in Mashiko turning it into a world-renowned pottery-centre. He remained instrumental in developing the mingei concept with Yanagi Sōetsu and a group of craftsmen, and also coined the term along with Yanagi and Kawai Kanjirō. The Japanese government designated Hamada a Living National Treasure in 1955.

 44 
Tatsuo Yoshida
(Animator)
Tatsuo Yoshida
0
Birthdate: March 6, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: September 5, 1977
 45 
Yoshihiro Tatsumi
(Japanese Manga Artist Known for Starting the 'Gekiga Style' of Alternative Manga in Japan)
Yoshihiro Tatsumi
2
Birthdate: June 10, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Japan
Died: March 7, 2015

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.

 46 
Yasuo Kuniyoshi
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Okayama, Japan
Died: May 14, 1953

Born in Japan, Yasuo Kuniyoshi moved to the U.S. to avoid military school and began studying painting in Los Angeles and New York instead. His works such as I’m Tired depict women. He was the first living artist to earn a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

 47 
Sōtatsu
(Artist)
Sōtatsu
2
Birthdate: 1570 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: 1640 AD

Sōtatsu is best remembered for mingling the Japanese scroll painting tradition, Yamato-e, with the screen painting of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. His works were known for their elaborate use of color, especially gold and silver. He is credited with pioneering the Rinpa school of art, along with Hon'ami Kōetsu.

 48 
Yoshida Kenkō
2
Birthdate: 1283 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 1350 AD

Best known for his Tsurezuregusa, or Essays in Idleness, Yoshida Kenkō was a Japanese poet and author of the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. Following the death of emperor Go-Uda, he became a Buddhist monk but never abandoned society. His works mostly expressed his sadness at the loss of society’s glory.

 49 
Yokoyama Taikan
2
Birthdate: September 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mito, Ibaraki, Japan
Died: February 26, 1958

Sakai Hidemaro, better known by his pseudonym, Yokoyama Taikan, redefined Japanese art along with his artist friend Hishida Shunsō. Both he and Shunsō pioneered the Nihonga technique, which focused on colors rather than the traditional technique of line drawing. Cherry Blossoms and Mountain Path remain two of his best works.

 50 
Ike no Taiga
(Japanese Painter)
Ike no Taiga
2
Birthdate: June 6, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: May 30, 1776

Ike Taiga pioneered the bunjin-ga style of Japanese painting, along with Yosa Buson. Born to a farmer in Kyoto, he studied calligraphy and was inspired by the Nan-ga school of Chinese art. He was a master of landscapes and portraits such as the screen painting The Western Lake.