Famous Japanese Poets

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 1 
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
(Japanese Short-Story Writer Active During the Taishō Period)
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
6
Birthdate: March 1, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kyōbashi-ku,Tokyo, Japan
Died: July 24, 1927

Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a Japanese writer best remembered for writing more than 150 short stories including In a Grove which inspired the 1950 film Rashōmon. Considered the father of the Japanese short story, Ryunosuke Akutagawa's brief career helped inspire his friend Kan Kikuchi to create Akutagawa Prize, a literary award for new writers, which is named in his honor.

 2 
Basho
(The Most Famous Poet of the Edo Period in Japan)
Basho
6
Birthdate: 1644 AD
Birthplace: Iga Province
Died: November 28, 1694

Basho was a Japanese poet of the Edo period. Regarded as the greatest master of haiku, Basho's poetry is read all over the world; many of his works have been translated into English. Such is his popularity that in 1979 a crater on planet Mercury was named after him by the International Astronomical Union.

 3 
Masako Natsume
(Actor, Model, Poet)
Masako Natsume
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tokyo
Died: September 11, 1985

Masako Natsume was a Japanese actress who achieved worldwide fame after playing Tripitaka in the popular Japanese television series Monkey. Throughout her brief career, Natsume won several awards like the Elan d'or Awards. Masako Natsume remains a household name in Japan; calendars and picture books featuring pictures of Masako Natsume are still popular today.

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 4 
Kenji Miyazawa
(Poet, Novelist, Writer, Teacher, Esperantist, Agronomist, Children's writer)
Kenji Miyazawa
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hanamaki
Died: September 21, 1933
Japanese novelist Kenji Miyazawa was also a poet of children's literature and is one of Japan's most-read and best-loved authors. Some of his major works include Night on the Galactic Railroad, Kaze no Matasaburō, Gauche the Cellist, and The Night of Taneyamagahara.  Many of his children's stories have inspired anime, most notably Night on the Galactic Railroad.
 5 
Daisaku Ikeda
(Poet, Writer)
Daisaku Ikeda
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ōta-ku

Daisaku Ikeda is a Japanese Buddhist educator, author, philosopher, and nuclear disarmament advocate. He is best known for serving as the founding president of the world's largest Buddhist lay organization, Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Daisaku Ikeda has won several international awards like the United Nations Peace Medal, Tagore Peace Award, and Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award.

 6 
Chūya Nakahara
(Poet, Writer, Tanka poet, Translator)
Chūya Nakahara
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Yamaguchi
Died: October 22, 1937

Known as one of Japan’s most impactful bohemian romantic poets, Chūya Nakahara was often compared to French symbolist poets for his fine imagery. Also known as the Japanese Rimbaud, he was influenced by Dadaism, too. He tragically died of meningitis at 30, though his legacy of around 350 poems lives on.

 7 
Natsume Sōseki
(Novelist Best Known Around the World for His Novels: 'Kokoro' and 'Botchan')
Natsume Sōseki
4
Birthdate: February 9, 1867
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ushigome, Chiba, Japan
Died: December 9, 1916

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.

 8 
Sei Shōnagon
(Writer)
Sei Shōnagon
3
Birthdate: 0966 AD
Birthplace: Tohoku Region, Japan
Died: 1025 AD

Tenth-century Japanese writer Sei Shōnagon was patronized by Empress Teishi. The daughter of a scholar/poet, she is best remembered for The Pillow Book, which was a vivid classification of the things and people she saw around her, such as Annoying Things. She was particularly popular for her wit.

 9 
Sugawara Michizane
(Scholar and statesman)
Sugawara Michizane
3
Birthdate: August 1, 0845
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: March 26, 0903

A court scholar, Sugawara Michizane had held various significant posts, such as the governor of Sanuki and the minister of the right. He redefined Chinese literature, particularly Kanshi poetry, but was later exiled to an island for suspected treason. He is revered as the deity of learning and literature, Tenman-Tenjin.

 10 
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.

 11 
Doppo Kunikida
(Japanese Author of Novels and Romantic Poetry During the Meiji Period)
Doppo Kunikida
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chōshi, Chiba, Japan
Died: June 23, 1908
A Japanese author who wrote novels and romantic poetry, Kunikida Doppo belongs to the Meiji period. Noted as one of the inventors of Japanese naturalism, Doppo served in the Sino-Japanese War as a reporter. After war, he published a compilation of poems titled Doppo's Poems. Later, he published a romantic short story titled Musashino followed by Doppo shu and Unmei.
 12 
Kobayashi Issa
(Japanese Poet and Buddhist Priest of the Jōdo Shinshū Known for His Haiku Poems and Journals)
Kobayashi Issa
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1763
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Near Shinano-machi, Shinano Province, Japan
Died: January 5, 1828

Nineteenth-century Japanese haiku poet Kobayashi Issa, or Issa, who had penned more than 20,000 haiku, remains one of the Great Four haiku masters of his country. Known for his simple and lucid language, he mostly wrote about the common man. He is also said to have originated the Japanese I novel.

 13 
Shūji Terayama
(Japanese Avant-Garde Poet, Dramatist and Writer)
Shūji Terayama
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1935
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan
Died: May 4, 1983
A Japanese avant-garde poet, Shūji Terayama was also a dramatist, writer, film director, and photographer. During his prolific career, he created radio drama, underground theatre, countercultural essays and Japanese New Wave and "expanded" cinema. Besides publishing 200 literary works, Terayama also created over 20 short and full-length films. The Shuji Terayama Museum was opened in 1997 to celebrate his life.
 14 
Yosano Akiko
(One of the Most Infuential and the Most Controversial Post-Classical Woman Poets of Japan)
Yosano Akiko
3
Birthdate: December 7, 1878
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Died: May 29, 1942

Yosano Akiko was a Japanese author, social reformer, poet, pacifist, and feminist. One of the most controversial and popular woman poets of Japan, Yosano was an important exponent of a genre of classical Japanese poetry called Tanka. She also contributed immensely to several publications like Bluestocking.

 15 
Matsudaira Katamori
(Poet)
Matsudaira Katamori
3
Birthdate: February 15, 1836
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edo
Died: December 5, 1893

As the Kyoto shugoshoku, or military governor, Matsudaira Katamori launched a successful campaign against the Hagi extremists. He also made efforts to unite the Imperial Court and the Shogunate and played a major role in Meiji restoration. He surrendered following an attack and became a Shinto priest.

 16 
Yosa Buson
(Japanese Poet and Painter of the Edo Period)
Yosa Buson
3
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.

 17 
Ihara Saikaku
(Japanese Poet and Creator of the 'Floating World')
Ihara Saikaku
3
Birthdate: 1642 AD
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Died: September 9, 1693

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.

 18 
Masaoka Shiki
(Poet)
Masaoka Shiki
3
Birthdate: October 14, 1867
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
Died: September 19, 1902
 19 
Fujiwara no Teika
(Writer, Literary Critic and the Greatest Master of the Waka Poetic Form)
Fujiwara no Teika
2
Birthdate: 1162 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: September 26, 1241

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.

 20 
Saigyō
(Poet)
Saigyō
2
Birthdate: 1118 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: March 23, 1190
 21 
Ishikawa Takuboku
(Poet)
Ishikawa Takuboku
2
Birthdate: February 20, 1886
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hinoto, Japan
Died: April 13, 1912
 22 
Fumiko Hayashi
(Novelist)
Fumiko Hayashi
2
Birthdate: December 31, 1903
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: June 28, 1951

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.

 23 
Kamo no Chōmei
(Author)
Kamo no Chōmei
2
Birthdate: 1155 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 1216 AD
 24 
Ozaki Kōyō
(Japanese Novelist and Poet)
Ozaki Kōyō
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shibadaimon, Tokyo, Japan
Died: October 30, 1903

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.

 25 
Sadakichi Hartmann
(Critic)
Sadakichi Hartmann
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dejima, Nagasaki, Japan
Died: November 22, 1944
 26 
Ueda Akinari
(Author)
Ueda Akinari
2
Birthdate: July 25, 1734
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Died: August 8, 1809
 27 
Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
(Poet)
Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
2
Birthdate: 0662 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 0710 AD
 28 
Ōtomo no Yakamochi
(Japanese Statesman and Waka Poet in the Nara Period)
Ōtomo no Yakamochi
2
Birthdate: April 2, 0718
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Japan
Died: May 1, 0785

Born into the Ōtomo clan, which served as bureaucrats and personal guards of the imperial leaders, Ōtomo no Yakamochi began his political journey as the governor of Etchū. A skilled poet who excelled in waka poetry, he had also co-compiled one of the best works of classical Japanese poems, Man’yōshū.

 29 
Shimazaki Tōson
(Japanese Poet and Novelist)
Shimazaki Tōson
2
Birthdate: March 25, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Magome-juku, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Died: August 22, 1943

Shimazaki Tōson was a Japanese author best remembered for popularizing naturalism in Japanese fiction. He is also credited with co-creating the Meiji Romanticism literary movement in Japan. His book The Broken Commandment was widely regarded as a landmark in Japanese realism. The Broken Commandment is also considered the first Japanese naturalist novel.

 30 
Santōka Taneda
(Poet, Writer, Bhikkhu)
Santōka Taneda
2
Birthdate: December 3, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hōfu
Died: October 11, 1940
 31 
Ki no Tsurayuki
(Writer)
Ki no Tsurayuki
2
Birthdate: 0872 AD
Birthplace: Heian-kyō, Japan
Died: June 30, 0945
 32 
Hagiwara Sakutarō
(Poet)
Hagiwara Sakutarō
2
Birthdate: November 1, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maebashi, Japan
Died: May 11, 1942
 33 
Hakushū Kitahara
(Poet)
Hakushū Kitahara
1
Birthdate: January 25, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nankan, Kumamoto, Japan
Died: November 2, 1942
 34 
Masao Kume
(Japanese Playwright, Novelist and Poet)
Masao Kume
2
Birthdate: November 23, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ueda, Nagano, Japan
Died: March 1, 1952

Masao Kume was a Japanese novelist, playwright, and haiku poet. Kume is credited with founding the People's Arts Movement by joining hands with Mantarō Kubota and Kaoru Osanai. An important figure in Kamakura literary circles, Masao Kume helped found the Kamakura Carnival as well as the Kamakura P.E.N. Club.

 35 
Saneatsu Mushanokōji
(Japanese Novelist, Playwright, Poet and Philosopher)
Saneatsu Mushanokōji
1
Birthdate: May 12, 1885
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kojimachi, Tokyo, Japan
Died: April 9, 1976

Born into an aristocratic family, Saneatsu Mushanokōji was well-educated but left university without graduating, to begin writing instead. He co-founded the journal Shirakaba. A believer of humanistic optimism, he penned novels such as A Happy Man. A skilled painter, too, he was known for his still lifes. He wrote poems, too.

 36 
Kyoshi Takahama
(Poet)
Kyoshi Takahama
1
Birthdate: February 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Matsuyama, Japan
Died: April 8, 1959
 37 
Satō Haruo
(Author)
Satō Haruo
1
Birthdate: April 9, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shingu, Japan
Died: May 6, 1964
 38 
Jien
(Poet)
Jien
1
Birthdate: May 17, 1155
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: October 28, 1225
 39 
Kō Machida
(Japanese Author, Punk Rock Singer and Actor)
Kō Machida
1
Birthdate: January 15, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sakai, Osaka, Japan

Kō Machida is a Japanese author, poet, punk rock singer, and actor. He is credited with forming a band called Inu, which released its debut album Meshi Kuuna in 1981. When the band dissolved shortly after the release of the album, Kō Machida went on to form several other bands and came up with numerous albums.

 40 
Yamanoue no Okura
(Poet)
Yamanoue no Okura
1
Birthdate: 0660 AD
Birthplace: -
Died: 0733 AD
 41 
Fujiwara no Shunzei
(Poet)
Fujiwara no Shunzei
1
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: December 22, 1204
 42 
Hanabusa Itchō
(Japanese Painter, Calligrapher, and Poet)
Hanabusa Itchō
1
Birthdate: 1652 AD
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Died: February 7, 1724

Seventeenth-century Japanese calligrapher and haiku poet Hanabusa Itchō deviated from the Kanō school to focus on humorous topics. Though similar to the ukiyo-e school of wood-block work, his art depicted subjects other than actors and courtesans. He was once exiled for caricaturing the shogun but returned to launch a painting school.

 43 
Kamo no Mabuchi
(Poet)
Kamo no Mabuchi
1
Birthdate: April 24, 1697
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
Died: November 27, 1769
 44 
Sōgi
(Poet)
Sōgi
1
Birthdate: 1421 AD
Birthplace: Japan, Japan
Died: September 1, 1502
 45 
Fujiwara no Tadahira
(Statesman)
Fujiwara no Tadahira
1
Birthdate: 0880 AD
Birthplace: Kyōto, Japan
Died: September 9, 0949
 46 
Makoto Ōoka
(Poet)
Makoto Ōoka
1
Birthdate: February 16, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan
Died: April 5, 2017
 47 
Itō Sachio
(Tanka Poet and Novelist Active During the Meiji Period of Japan)
Itō Sachio
0
Birthdate: September 18, 1864
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sammu, Chiba, Japan
Died: July 30, 1913

Japanese tanka poet of the Meiji period, Itō Kōjirō, better known by his pseudonym Itō Sachio, was also a literary critic and editor and a close disciple of author Masaoka Shiki. His classic love tale The Wild Daisy was later turned into multiple movies. He also popularized the Japanese tea ceremony

 48 
Hiroshi Noma
(Japanese Poet, Novelist and Essayist)
Hiroshi Noma
0
Birthdate: February 23, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nagata Ward, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Died: January 2, 1991

Best known for his war novel Zone of Emptiness, which is now hailed as a classic, Hiroshi Noma was also drawn toward Symbolism in his youth. After graduating in French literature, he was involved in student and labor movements and later also fought in World War II.

 49 
Nijo Yoshimoto
(Poet)
Nijo Yoshimoto
1
Birthdate: 1320 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: July 24, 1388
 50 
Minamoto Shitagō
(Japanese poet)
Minamoto Shitagō
0
Birthdate: 0911 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 0983 AD