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.
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.
5 Yoko Ono
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10 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.
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.
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.
14 Tite Kubo
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While he initially specialized in judo, Hatsumi Masaaki, the 34th sōke head of the Togakure school of ninpō, later taught students his own brand of ninjutsu. Apart from heading the Bujinkan Organization, he has also advised the martial arts teams of films such as You Only Live Twice.
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.
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.
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.
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 Kuroda Seiki
27 On Kawara
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.
28 Sesshū Tōyō
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.
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.
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.
31 Yosa Buson
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.
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.
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.
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.
35 Tarō Okamoto
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.
36 Itō Jakuchū
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.
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.
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.
39 Ogata Kōrin
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.
40 Shōji Hamada
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
46 Ike Taiga
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.
Along with his wife and collaborator Madeline Gins, artist and architect Shusaku Arakawa designed buildings such as the Bioscleave house, which included surrealist features, such as sand-dune-shaped floors and the lack of doors. His art and his Reversible Destiny Foundation were geared toward increasing human longevity.
48 Kanō Eitoku
Japanese painter of the Azuchi–Momoyama period Kanō Eitoku was the grandson of Kanō Motonobu, the patriarch and founder of the Kanō school of Japanese painting. His works consisted of the signature gold-leaf ground, with birds, trees, and flowers as motifs. Chinese Lions remains one of his best-known folding-screen painting.
While she stunned art lovers with her Electric Dress made of hundreds of painted electric bulbs, avant-garde artist Atsuko Tanaka was part of the Japanese Gutai movement, which made use of objects such as lights, doorbells, and textiles. Her performance art and installations redefined Japanese art.
Born to a bookseller in Sagami Province, Torii Kiyonaga became of the significant figures of the ukiyo-e movement woodblock prints. His works depict exceptionally tall woman drawn in a realistic fashion. He was largely inspired by kabuki actors and courtesans and mastered the nishiki-e and bijin-ga paintings.