Famous Japanese Poets

Find out more about the greatest Japanese Poets, including Yukio Mishima, Takeshi Kitano, Ayumi Hamasaki, Murasaki Shikibu and Lafcadio Hearn.

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

Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Poets

 1 Basho

Basho
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1644 AD
Birthplace: Ueno, Mie
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.

 2 Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki
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Famous As: Singer, Seiyū, Songwriter, Model, Actor, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Lyricist, Poet, Record producer
Birthdate: October 2, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fukuoka

Japanese pop icon Ayumi Hamasaki had started a TV career after moving to Tokyo at 14. She later gained fame with her dance hits and ballads. Also known for her dramatic costumes and videos, The Empress of J-pop has been rendered totally deaf in one ear, owing to a ear infection.

 3 Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima
4
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: January 14, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Yotsuya, Tokyo, Japan
Died: November 25, 1970

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. 

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 4 Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano
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Famous As: Comedian
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.   

 5 Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda
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Famous As: Poet, Writer
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 Saigo Takamori

Saigo Takamori
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Famous As: Samurai, Poet
Birthdate: January 23, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: September 24, 1877

Saigo Takamori was a samurai and he is considered as one of the most influential samurais in Japanese history. He was one of the three great nobles who led the Meiji Restoration. Saigo Takamori lived during the late Edo and early Meiji periods and led the imperial forces at the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. He was dubbed "the true last Samurai" after his death. 

 7 Masako Natsume

Masako Natsume
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Famous As: Actor, Model, Poet
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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 8 Kenji Miyazawa

Kenji Miyazawa
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Famous As: Poet, Novelist, Writer, Teacher, Esperantist, Agronomist, Children's writer
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.

 9 Sei Shōnagon

Sei Shōnagon
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Famous As: Writer
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.

 10 Chūya Nakahara

Chūya Nakahara
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Famous As: Poet, Writer, Tanka poet, Translator
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.

 11 Yoshitoshi

Yoshitoshi
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Famous As: Engraver, Painter, Poet
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.

 12 Kobayashi Issa

Kobayashi Issa
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 15, 1763
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kashiwabara
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 Kunikida Doppo

Kunikida Doppo
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, 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.

 14 Sugawara Michizane

Sugawara Michizane
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Famous As: Scholar and statesman
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.

 15 Matsudaira Katamori

Matsudaira Katamori
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Famous As: Poet
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 Shūji Terayama

Shūji Terayama
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Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Writer, Film director, Photographer, Screenwriter, Actor, Novelist, Tanka poet, Lyricist, Songwriter
Birthdate: December 10, 1935
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hirosaki
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.

 17 Masaoka Shiki

Masaoka Shiki
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 14, 1867
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
Died: September 19, 1902

 18 Yosa Buson

Yosa Buson
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Famous As: Poet
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.

 19 Yosano Akiko

Yosano Akiko
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Famous As: Author
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.

 20 Ryōkan

Ryōkan
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Famous As: Buddhist Monk
Birthdate: November 2, 1758
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Echigo Province, Japan
Died: February 18, 1831

 21 Fujiwara no Teika

Fujiwara no Teika
2
Famous As: Poet
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.

 22 Ishikawa Takuboku

Ishikawa Takuboku
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 20, 1886
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hinoto, Japan
Died: April 13, 1912

 23 Fumiko Hayashi

Fumiko Hayashi
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 24 Ike Taiga

Ike Taiga
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: 1723 AD
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.

 25 Saigyō

Saigyō
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1118 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: March 23, 1190

 26 Kamo no Chōmei

Kamo no Chōmei
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: 1155 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 1216 AD

 27 Inoue Yasushi

Inoue Yasushi
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 6, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan
Died: January 29, 1991

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.

 28 Ozaki Kōyō

Ozaki Kōyō
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Famous As: Author
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.

 29 Kakinomoto no Hitomaro

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0662 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: 0710 AD

 30 Sadakichi Hartmann

Sadakichi Hartmann
2
Famous As: Critic
Birthdate: November 8, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dejima, Nagasaki, Japan
Died: November 22, 1944

 31 Shimazaki Tōson

Shimazaki Tōson
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 25, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Magome, 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.

 32 Ueda Akinari

Ueda Akinari
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 25, 1734
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Died: August 8, 1809

 33 Santōka Taneda

Santōka Taneda
2
Famous As: Poet, Writer, Bhikkhu
Birthdate: December 3, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hōfu
Died: October 11, 1940

 34 Ki no Tsurayuki

Ki no Tsurayuki
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0872 AD
Birthplace: Heian-kyō, Japan
Died: June 30, 0945

 35 Ōtomo no Yakamochi

Ōtomo no Yakamochi
2
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: 0718 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: October 5, 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.

 36 Hagiwara Sakutarō

Hagiwara Sakutarō
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 1, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maebashi, Japan
Died: May 11, 1942

 37 Hakushū Kitahara

Hakushū Kitahara
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 25, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nankan, Kumamoto, Japan
Died: November 2, 1942

 38 Masao Kume

Masao Kume
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: November 23, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: 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.

 39 Saneatsu Mushanokōji

Saneatsu Mushanokōji
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 12, 1885
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: 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.

 40 Kō Machida

Kō Machida
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Famous As: Actor, Novelist, Poet, Writer, Singer, Lyricist
Birthdate: January 15, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sakai City

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.

 41 Kyoshi Takahama

Kyoshi Takahama
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Matsuyama, Japan
Died: April 8, 1959

 42 Satō Haruo

Satō Haruo
1
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 9, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shingu, Japan
Died: May 6, 1964

 43 Jien

Jien
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 17, 1155
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: October 28, 1225

 44 Hajime Kawakami

Hajime Kawakami
1
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: October 20, 1879
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: January 30, 1946

Remembered as one of the first Japanese Marxist theorists, Hajime Kawakami taught economics at the Kyōto Imperial University. His major works include his Japanese translation of Das Kapital. Part of the Japanese Communist Party, he was later arrested and died of malnutrition after being released.

 45 Kamo no Mabuchi

Kamo no Mabuchi
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 24, 1697
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
Died: November 27, 1769

 46 Yamanoue no Okura

Yamanoue no Okura
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0660 AD
Birthplace: -
Died: 0733 AD

 47 Fujiwara no Shunzei

Fujiwara no Shunzei
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Died: December 22, 1204

 48 Hanabusa Itchō

Hanabusa Itchō
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Famous As: Painter
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.

 49 Tani Bunchō

Tani Bunchō
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: October 15, 1763
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: January 6, 1841

Born to a poet, literati painter and poet Tani Bunchō was initially trained in the Kanō school of art. After learning the Hoku-ga, Nan-ga, and Yamato-e traditions, he established the Nanboku gōitsu school of art, stressing on Western principles. His works mostly consisted of landscapes and portraits.

 50 Sōgi

Sōgi
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1421 AD
Birthplace: Japan, Japan
Died: September 1, 1502