Famous 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.

Find out more about the greatest Japanese Sportspersons, including Yoshihiro Akiyama, Miyamoto Musashi, Ichiro Suzuki, Shinji Okazaki and Shinji Kagawa
Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Sportspersons
 1 
Naomi Osaka
(Japanese Professional Tennis Player and First Asian Player to Hold the Top Ranking in Singles)
Naomi Osaka
53
Birthdate: October 16, 1997
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka made history by being the first player of Asian origin to hold the world number one rank in singles. Osaka made headlines when in 2021, she withdrew from the French Open after refusing to be part of a press conference to protect her mental health.

 2 
Yuzuru Hanyu
(One of the Greatest Figure Skaters in History)
Yuzuru Hanyu
633
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 
Ichiro Suzuki
(The First Japanese-born Position Player to be Posted and Signed to an MLB Club)
Ichiro Suzuki
9
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

 4 
Asuka
(Japanese Professional Wrestler)
Asuka
22
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.

Recommended Lists:
 5 
Shohei Ohtani
(Japanese Professional Baseball Pitcher, Designated Hitter and Outfielder)
Shohei Ohtani
7
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.

 6 
Miyamoto Musashi
(Swordsman & Philosopher)
Miyamoto Musashi
14
Birthdate: March 1, 1584
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harima Province, Japan
Died: May 19, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

Recommended Lists:
 7 
Shinsuke Nakamura
9
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

 8 
Shinji Kagawa
(Footballer)
Shinji Kagawa
8
Birthdate: March 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tarumi-ku, Kobe, Hyōgo

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. 

Recommended Lists:
 9 
Sky Brown
(Skateboarder)
Sky Brown
9
Birthdate: July 12, 2008
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Miyazaki
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.
 10 
Hana Kimura
(Joshi puroresu professional wrestler)
Hana Kimura
4
Birthdate: September 3, 1997
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Died: May 23, 2020
Recommended Lists:
 11 
Yu Darvish
(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.

 12 
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.

Recommended Lists:
 13 
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
(Actor, Martial artist)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
4
Birthdate: September 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Currently a Russian citizen, Japanese actor and martial artist Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa began his training in martial art while in junior school and acting while studying in Duarte High School, California, making his breakthrough as the Eunuch Chang in The Last Emperor. Thereafter he continued to appear in numerous productions, concurrently developing a new form of martial arts called Chun Shin

 14 
Takumi Minamino
(Association football player)
Takumi Minamino
6
Birthdate: January 16, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Izumisano

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.

Recommended Lists:
 15 
Kazuyoshi Miura
(Japanese Professional Football Player Who Plays as a Forward)
Kazuyoshi Miura
6
Birthdate: February 26, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shizuoka, Shizuoka, Japan

Kazuyoshi Miura is a professional Japanese footballer for who age is truly just a number. He is above 50 and continues to be an active player , He holds the global record as the oldest player to score a goal in a professional soccer league. Associated with Yokohama FC, he played for Japan’s national team for a decade, scoring 55 goals from 89 matches.

 16 
Keisuke Honda
(Football player)
Keisuke Honda
5
Birthdate: June 13, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Settsu, Osaka, Japan

Keisuke Honda is a Japanese football player and manager. A versatile player, Honda can play as an attacking midfielder and as a winger. Renowned for his accuracy, dribbling skills, and powerful striking ability, Keisuke Honda helped the Japan national football team win the 2011 Asian Cup, where he was adjudged Player of the Tournament.       

 17 
Mao Asada
(Figure skater)
Mao Asada
177
Birthdate: September 25, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Meito Ward, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
 18 
Kento Momota
(Badminton player)
Kento Momota
8
Birthdate: September 1, 1994
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mino, Kagawa, Japan
Recommended Lists:
 19 
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.

 20 
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

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.

 21 
Yuji Nishida
(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.

 22 
Rui Hachimura
(Basketball player Power forwarder)
Rui Hachimura
1
Birthdate: February 8, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toyama, Japan
 23 
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.
 24 
Kota Ibushi
(Japanese Professional Wrestler and Martial Artist)
Kota Ibushi
4
Birthdate: May 21, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aira, Kagoshima, Japan

Japanese martial artist and wrestler Kota Ibushi stunned his fans when he rejected an offer from All Elite Wrestling, choosing to remain with New Japan Pro-Wrestling instead, as he did not wish to move to the U.S. for good. The IWGP World Heavyweight Champion had initially ditched karate for wrestling.

 25 
Sasaki Kojirō
(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.

 26 
Kazuchika Okada
(Wrestler)
Kazuchika Okada
6
Birthdate: November 8, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Anjo, Aichi, Japan
 27 
Nozomi Okuhara
(Badminton player)
Nozomi Okuhara
4
Birthdate: March 13, 1995
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ōmachi, Nagano, Japan
 28 
Shinji Okazaki
(Association football player)
Shinji Okazaki
7
Birthdate: April 16, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Takarazuka
 29 
Hiroshi Tanahashi
(One of the Greatest Professional Wrestlers of All Time)
Hiroshi Tanahashi
4
Birthdate: November 13, 1976
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ogaki, Gifu, Japan

Hiroshi Tanahashi is a Japanese professional wrestler, widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. He is the current NEVER Openweight Champion at  New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW). He is one of the most decorated wrestlers in New Japan's history with eight reigns as IWGP Heavyweight Champion and three reigns as IWGP Tag Team Champion. 

 30 
Yoshihiro Akiyama
(Mixed martial artist)
Yoshihiro Akiyama
5
Birthdate: July 29, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ikuno Ward, Osaka, Japan
 31 
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.

 32 
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.

 33 
Takuma Asano
(Footballer)
Takuma Asano
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1994
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Komono, Mie Prefecture
 34 
Yoshihiro Tajiri
(Japanese Professional Wrestler and Promoter)
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.

Sadako Sasaki
4
Birthdate: January 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kusunoki, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: October 25, 1955

At age 2, Sadako Sasaki survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, being just 2km away from the bombing site. However, years later, she developed leukemia, as an aftermath of the bombing. While in hospital, battling the terminal disease, she folded over 1,000 origami cranes, in the hope of getting better.

 36 
Hideki Matsui
(Baseball player)
Hideki Matsui
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Neagarimachi, Ishikawa, Japan
 37 
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.

 38 
Naoya Inoue
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1993
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zama, Kanagawa, Japan
 39 
Hakuhō Shō
(Retired Sumo Wrestler)
Hakuhō Shō
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1985
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
 40 
Takuma Sato
(Racecar driver)
Takuma Sato
4
Birthdate: January 28, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
 41 
Tetsuya Naito
(Wrestler)
Tetsuya Naito
3
Birthdate: June 22, 1982
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Adachi City, Tokyo, Japan
 42 
Minoru Suzuki
(Professional wrestler)
Minoru Suzuki
3
Birthdate: June 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nishi Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
 43 
Masahiro Tanaka
(Baseball Player)
Masahiro Tanaka
6
Birthdate: November 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Itami, Hyōgo, Japan
 44 
Yuto Nagatomo
(Association football player)
Yuto Nagatomo
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saijo
 45 
Jigoro Kano
(International sports pioneer who founded the martial art of judo and was the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee.)
Jigoro Kano
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1860
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hyogo, Japan
Died: May 4, 1938

Legendary Japanese athlete Jigoro Kano is remembered as the founder of judo. A fine educator, he had also had a 23-year stint as the principal of 2 schools, which later became the University of Tsukuba. He was also the first Asian to be part of the International Olympic Committee.

 46 
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.

 47 
Gichin Funakoshi
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1868
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shuri, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Died: April 26, 1957
 48 
Keiichi Tsuchiya
(Racecar driver)
Keiichi Tsuchiya
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tōmi
 49 
Mitsuharu Misawa
3
Birthdate: June 18, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Koshigaya, Japan
Died: June 13, 2009
 50 
Maya Yoshida
(Association football player)
Maya Yoshida
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagasaki