Famous Japanese Sportspersons

Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Sportspersons

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

 1 
Ichiro Suzuki
(The First Japanese-born Position Player to be Posted and Signed to an MLB Club)
Ichiro Suzuki
10
Birthdate: October 22, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aichi, Japan

Ichiro Suzuki is a Japanese former baseball player who played as an outfielder in top-level professional leagues, including Major League Baseball (MLB). Also a popular player at the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, Suzuki became the first MLB player to be inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

 2 
Yuzuru Hanyu
(One of the Greatest Figure Skaters in History)
Yuzuru Hanyu
634
Birthdate: December 7, 1994
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sendai, Japan

Yuzuru Hanyu is a Japanese figure skater. Considered one of the greatest male figure skaters of all time, Hanyu became only the second figure skaters ever to receive two successive Olympic gold medals; he achieved this feat in 2014 and 2018. He also won the 2020 Four Continents Championships, becoming the only male singles skater to accomplish a Super Slam.

 3 
Asuka
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Asuka
23
Birthdate: September 26, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

One of the most promising young wrestlers from Japan, Kanako Urai, better known as Asuka and Kana (previously), has been making a name for herself as part of the WWE. Known for her multi-colored hair, she is a Grand Slam Champion, and holds the NXT, Raw, and SmackDown Women’s titles.

 4 
Shinsuke Nakamura
(Professional Wrestler Known for His Time in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW))
Shinsuke Nakamura
10
Birthdate: February 24, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kyōtango, Kyoto, Japan

Shinsuke Nakamura is a Japanese wrestler best known for appearing in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he has won several championships, such as the Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, and SmackDown Tag Team Championship. In 2016, Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine named him the Most Popular Wrestler of the Year. He is also known for his association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Recommended Lists:
 5 
Antonio Inoki
(Japanese Retired Professional Wrestler and Founder of 'New Japan Pro-Wrestling')
Antonio Inoki
6
Birthdate: November 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Yokohama, Japan
Died: October 1, 2022

Once a reputed Japanese martial artist and wrestler, Antonio Inoki grew up in Brazil, where he won several contests of shot put, discus, and javelin. At 17, he went to the Japanese Wrestling Association and was mentored by Rikidōzan. He later established the New Japan Pro Wrestling.

 6 
Kairi Sane
(Japanese Professional Wrestler and Actress Known for Her Work With WWE)
Kairi Sane
23
Birthdate: September 23, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hikari, Yamaguchi, Japan

WWE wrestler and actor Kaori Housako, better known as Kairi Sane, initially represented Japanese women’s wrestling promotion Stardom, as Kairi Hojo, and also won many honors, such as the Artist of Stardom. She is also skilled in yachting, holds a degree in Japanese literature, and has taught Japanese in Cambodia.

Recommended Lists:
 7 
Shohei Ohtani
(Japanese Professional Baseball Pitcher, Designated Hitter and Outfielder)
Shohei Ohtani
8
Birthdate: July 5, 1994
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oshu, Iwate, Japan

Affectionately called Sho Time and the Japanese Babe Ruth, Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani is known for his successful stint with the MLB team Los Angeles Angels. Earlier, while with the Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters, he set the record for the fastest-ever pitch thrown by a Japanese player.

 8 
Hakuhō Shō
(Japanese Retired Sumo Wrestler)
Hakuhō Shō
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1985
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
Recommended Lists:
 9 
Yu Darvish
(Japanese Professional Baseball Pitcher)
Yu Darvish
7
Birthdate: August 16, 1986
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

Born to a Japanese father and an Iranian mother, Sefat Farid Yu Darvish, better known as Yu Darvish, started playing baseball in second grade. Known for his baseball skills and his 6’5” frame, he is a 4-time All-Star and has played for teams such as the Chicago Cubs and the LA Dodgers.

 10 
Mao Asada
(Japanese Former Competitive Figure Skater)
Mao Asada
177
Birthdate: September 25, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Meito Ward, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Height: 5'4" (163 cm)
Recommended Lists:
 11 
Takumi Minamino
(Japanese Professional Footballer Who Plays as an Attacking Midfielder or Winger)
Takumi Minamino
8
Birthdate: January 16, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Izumisano, Japan

Inspired by Brazilian footballer Ronaldo, Takumi Minamino decided to make football his career and joined Cerezo Osaka at age 12. The Japanese football star now plays both for the Japanese national team and Liverpool. He has also had a successful stint at the Austrian club Salzburg.

 12 
Kento Momota
(Japanese Badminton Player)
Kento Momota
8
Birthdate: September 1, 1994
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mino, Kagawa, Japan
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
Recommended Lists:
 13 
Sky Brown
(British-Japanese Professional Skateboarder and Surfer)
Sky Brown
11
Birthdate: July 12, 2008
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Miyazaki, Japan
Born to a Japanese mother and a British father, Sky Brown is a self-taught skateboarder who learned the art from YouTube videos. At age 10, she became the world’s youngest professional skateboarder. The Dancing with the Stars: Juniors winner had a near-death experience after a skateboarding accident in 2020.
 14 
Rui Hachimura
(Basketball player Power forwarder)
Rui Hachimura
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toyama, Japan
Height: 6'8" (203 cm)
Recommended Lists:
 15 
Morihei Ueshiba
(Japanese Martial Arts Master and Founder of the Martial Art of ‘Aikido’)
Morihei Ueshiba
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1883
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tanabe, Wakayama, Japan
Died: April 26, 1969

Morihei Ueshiba was a Japanese martial artist. Referred to as the Great Teacher, Ueshiba is credited with founding aikido, a martial art which is now practiced around the world. During the course of his career, Ueshiba set up many dojos, including the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and taught several students, many of whom are celebrated martial artists in their own right.

 16 
Mitsuharu Misawa
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Mitsuharu Misawa
4
Birthdate: June 18, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Koshigaya, Japan
Died: June 13, 2009
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 17 
Nozomi Okuhara
(Japanese Badminton Player)
Nozomi Okuhara
4
Birthdate: March 13, 1995
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ōmachi, Nagano, Japan
Height: 5'1" (155 cm)
 18 
Io Shirai
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Io Shirai
20
Birthdate: May 8, 1990
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Japanese wrestler Masami Odate, better known by her pseudonym, Io Shirai, performs for WWE and is a former NXT Women's Champion. Japanese newspaper Tokyo Sports named her the top female wrestler of the year thrice. She is best known for her trademark moonsaults, springboard dropkicks, and hurricanranas.

Recommended Lists:
 19 
Yuji Nishida
(Japanese Left-Handed Volleyball Player)
Yuji Nishida
4
Birthdate: January 30, 2000
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Inabe, Mie, Japan

Japanese volleyball player Yuji Nishida now represents the Italian club Volley Callipo. Inspired to take up the game by his elder siblings, he joined JTEKT Stings at age 17. He also represented Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Of his numerous awards, one of the most notable is the Japanese V.League MVP.

 20 
Kamui Kobayashi
(Japanese Formula One Driver)
Kamui Kobayashi
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amagasaki, Japan
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 21 
Hana Kimura
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Hana Kimura
5
Birthdate: September 3, 1997
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Died: May 23, 2020
Height: 5'5" (165 cm)
 22 
Mas Oyama
(Founder of ‘Kyokushin Karate')
Mas Oyama
5
Birthdate: June 4, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gimje, Zenra-hoku Prefecture, Korea
Died: April 26, 1994

Legendary Japanese karate master Mas Oyama, who founded Kyokushin Karate, was known by his fans as The God Hand. Known as someone who had fought bears and bulls with his bare hands, he was also an actor and author. Following his death, he was declared a God by a Japanese religion.

 23 
Yoshihiro Akiyama
(Japanese Mixed Martial Artist and Judoka)
Yoshihiro Akiyama
5
Birthdate: July 29, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ikuno Ward, Osaka, Japan
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 24 
Michael Leitch
(Japanese Rugby Union Player Who Plays in the Back Row)
Michael Leitch
3
Birthdate: October 7, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Burwood, Christchurch, New Zealand
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 25 
Kōhei Uchimura
(Japanese Retired Artistic Gymnast)
Kōhei Uchimura
3
Birthdate: January 3, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan
Height: 5'4" (163 cm)
 26 
Tenshin Nasukawa
(Japanese Kickboxer and Mixed Martial Artist)
Tenshin Nasukawa
8
Birthdate: August 18, 1998
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chiba, Japan
Former Rizin bantamweight title-holder Tenshin Nasukawa had begun training in karate at age 5. The Japanese MMA fighter and kickboxer is known for his peculiar style that mingles kickboxing and full-contact karate. He ended up crying after being steamrolled by U.S. boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in a match in Tokyo.
 27 
Kazushi Sakuraba
(Japanese Professional Wrestler and Mixed Martial Artist)
Kazushi Sakuraba
5
Birthdate: July 14, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Shōwa, Akita, Japan
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 28 
Midori Ito
(Figure skater)
Midori Ito
0
Birthdate: August 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Height: 4'9" (145 cm)
 29 
Hidetoshi Nakata
(Japanese Former Professional Footballer Who Played as a Midfielder)
Hidetoshi Nakata
5
Birthdate: January 22, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kofu, Yamanashi, Japan

Considered one of the best Japanese footballers ever, Hidetoshi Nakata is not just a 2-time Olympian but also a 3-time World Cup player. He has also been part of Serie A and Premier League. Known as Gioiellino, or Little Jewel, he is also a fashion icon, known for his quirky and colorful hair-dos.

 30 
Sasaki Kojirō
(Japanese Swordsman)
Sasaki Kojirō
4
Birthdate: 1575 AD
Birthplace: Fukui, Japan
Died: April 13, 1612

Sixteenth-century Japanese swordsman Sasaki Kojirō was known as the Demon of the Western Provinces because of his skill with the nodachi, a sword that demons used. Known for his signature move, Tsubame Gaeshi, he died fighting Miyamoto Musashi, his arch rival, at what is now known as Ganryu island.

 31 
Satoshi Ishii
(Japanese-Born Judoka, Mixed Martial Artist, Kickboxer and Submission Grappler)
Satoshi Ishii
3
Birthdate: December 19, 1986
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 32 
Shinji Kagawa
(Japanese Professional Footballer Who Plays as a Midfielder)
Shinji Kagawa
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kobe, Japan

Shinji Kagawa is a Japanese footballer who plays as a midfielder. He has the distinction of having played for top-notch European football clubs, such as Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Known for agility on the field, Shinji Kagawa is currently part of the Greek club, PAOK Thessaloniki, after his contract with Spanish team, Zaragoza, was terminated. 

 33 
Takuma Asano
(Japanese Professional Footballer Who Plays as a Winger or a Forward)
Takuma Asano
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1994
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Komono, Mie, Japan
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 34 
Jushin Thunder Liger
(One of the Greatest Junior Heavyweight Wrestlers of All Time)
Jushin Thunder Liger
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Japan

Jushin Thunder Liger is a Japanese retired wrestler and mixed martial artist. He is best known for his association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) where he was an important wrestler from 1984 to 2020. He was also popular in America's WWE stable and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2020.

 35 
Kenta Kobayashi
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Kenta Kobayashi
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1981
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sōka, Saitama, Japan
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 36 
Gichin Funakoshi
(Karateka)
Gichin Funakoshi
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1868
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shuri, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Died: April 26, 1957
 37 
Naoya Inoue
(Japanese Professional Boxer)
Naoya Inoue
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1993
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zama, Kanagawa, Japan
Height: 5'5" (165 cm)
 38 
Hideki Matsui
(Baseball player)
Hideki Matsui
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Neagarimachi, Ishikawa, Japan
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 39 
Tommy Kono
(Japanese-American Weightlifter and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Tommy Kono
3
Birthdate: June 27, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States
Died: April 24, 2016
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 40 
Norifumi Yamamoto
(Japanese Mixed Martial Artist)
Norifumi Yamamoto
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kawasaki, Japan
Died: September 18, 2018

One of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time, MMA fighter and kickboxer Norifumi Yamamoto, nicknamed Kid, had successful stints at Shooto and K-1 Hero's. After revealing his cancer diagnosis on Instagram in August 2018, he succumbed to the disease, at age 41, in September the same year.

 41 
Yoshihiro Tajiri
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Yoshihiro Tajiri
3
Birthdate: September 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tamana, Kumamoto, Japan

Japanese wrestler Yoshihiro Tajiri has been known by many pseudonyms, such as Aquarius and Tigre Blanco. Trained in lucha libre and Japanese wrestling, Tajiri has also amused audiences with his backstage comedy during his association with organizations such as WWE and ECW. He later popularized his signature goatee.

 42 
Kei Nishikori
(Japanese Professional Tennis Player)
Kei Nishikori
6
Birthdate: December 29, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Matsue, Shimane, Japan

Kei Nishikori scripted history when he became the first male Japanese tennis player to make it to the top 40 of the ATP rankings, the second to be in the singles top 5, and the first to make it to a Grand Slam final. He has also won an Olympic bronze.

 43 
Mari Osaka
(Retired Japanese Tennis Player and Fashion Designer)
Mari Osaka
5
Birthdate: April 3, 1996
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka, Japan

Mari Osaka is a Japanese tennis player. In 2014, she made her WTA Tour debut at the Bank of the West Classic, partnering with Marina Shamayko in the doubles event. A few years later, she made her WTA Tour singles debut at the 2019 Miami Open. Her sister, Naomi Osaka, is also a tennis player.

 44 
Takuma Sato
(Japanese Professional Racing Driver)
Takuma Sato
4
Birthdate: January 28, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 5'5" (165 cm)
 45 
Bull Nakano
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Bull Nakano
5
Birthdate: January 8, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kawaguchi, Japan
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 46 
Masahiro Tanaka
(Baseball Player)
Masahiro Tanaka
6
Birthdate: November 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Itami, Hyōgo, Japan
Height: 6'3" (190 cm)
 47 
Aja Kong
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Aja Kong
6
Birthdate: September 25, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Height: 5'5" (165 cm)
 48 
Maya Yoshida
(Japanese Professional Footballer Who Plays as a Centre-Back)
Maya Yoshida
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagasaki, Japan
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 49 
Kazuchika Okada
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Kazuchika Okada
6
Birthdate: November 8, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Anjo, Aichi, Japan
Height: 6'3" (190 cm)
 50 
Masahiko Kimura
(One of the Greatest Judoka of All Time)
Masahiko Kimura
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kumamoto, Japan
Died: April 18, 1993

Considered the best judoka of all time, Masahiko Kimura had begun training in martial arts at age 9. The skilled fighter later lent his name to the reverse ude-garami arm lock which he had used in his win against Hélio Gracie, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu founder. He had also penned his memoir, My Judo.