Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo gained fame with her bestselling books on organizing, such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which have been translated into languages such as Italian, Korean, French, and German. She also earned an Emmy nomination for her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
Daughter of Hollywood actor Steven Seagal and Japanese aikido specialist Miyako Fujitani, Ayako Fujitani appeared as a lead actor in Man from Reno. A skilled writer, she has also released several books, both fiction and non-fiction. She has also directed a short play and performed as part of a band.
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.
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.
Osamu Dazai was a Japanese author widely regarded as one of the leading writers of fiction of 20th-century Japan. Most of his popular works, such as No Longer Human and The Setting Sun, are regarded as modern-day classics in Japan. Several years after his death, Osamu Dazai continues to be celebrated in Japan, although he is relatively unknown elsewhere.
Masaru Emoto was a Japanese author, businessman, and pseudo-scientist. He is best remembered for his New York Times bestseller book The Hidden Messages in Water in which he claimed that thought can influence the molecular structure of water. He also served as the president emeritus of a non-profit organization called International Water For Life Foundation.
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.
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.
Sessue Hayakawa was a Japanese actor who became a popular Hollywood star during the silent film era. He was the first Asian actor to achieve stardom in Europe and the United States of America. Renowned for portraying sexually dominant villains, Sessue Hayakawa became a heartthrob among American women; he was also one of Hollywood's first male sex symbols.
Jiro Horikoshi was a Japanese engineer who played an important role during the Second World War, serving as the chief engineer of several Japanese fighter aircraft, including the famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Jiro Horikoshi's life and career inspired a fictionalized biographical animated film titled The Wind Rises which was directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
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.
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.
14 Tsugumi Ohba
Tsugumi Ohba is a Japanese writer best known for writing the popular manga series Death Note. Ohba, whose real identity is a well-guarded secret, is also known for writing other successful manga series like Bakuman and Platinum End. In 2008, Tsugumi Ohba was honored with the prestigious Eagle Award under Favourite Manga category for Death Note.
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.
Hironobu Sakaguchi is a Japanese writer, video game designer, producer, and director. Sakaguchi is credited with creating the popular anthology science fantasy media franchise Final Fantasy. He is also credited with selling more than 100 million units of video games worldwide. In 2004, Sakaguchi founded an independent video game development studio named Mistwalker Corporation.
Yasunari Kawabata was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose subtly-shaded prose works earned him the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature, making him the first Japanese writer to receive the prestigious award. Yasunari Kawabata played a major role in the translation of Japanese literature into several Western languages including English. His works are still read all over the world.
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.
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.
Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese poet and novelist. She is credited with authoring one of the world's first novels, The Tale of Genji. Murasaki's works played a key role in establishing Japanese as a written language and she continues to influence Japanese writers. Over the years, she has also been a popular subject of illustrations and paintings in Japan.
21 Mamoru Oshii
Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese writer, filmmaker, and television director. Renowned for incorporating philosophical values into his storytelling, Oshii's style of filmmaking has attracted praise from other popular directors like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. Over the years Mamoru Oshii has received nominations for several prestigious awards like the Golden Lion and Palme d'Or.
Megumi Yokota is a Japanese woman who was among at least 17 Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Yokota was kidnapped by a North Korean agent in 1977. Yokota has been missing for more than 43 years and several Japanese citizens have waged a campaign seeking her return. However, the North Korean government has claimed that she died in captivity.
23 Mas Oyama
24 Kenzaburō Ōe
Kenzaburō Ōe is a Japanese writer whose essays, short stories, and novels deal with social, philosophical, and political issues such as nuclear power, nuclear weapons, existentialism, and social non-conformism. An influential personality in contemporary Japanese literature, Kenzaburō Ōe was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for his works.
Edogawa Ranpo was a Japanese author who played an important role in the progression of Japanese mystery fiction. Ranpo is credited with creating the popular fictional private detective Kogoro Akechi who appears in many of his novels. A number of Ranpo's works have been adapted into films and series. The 1999 film Gemini was inspired by one of Ranpo's stories.
29 Shūsaku Endō
Tanizaki Jun'ichirō was a Japanese author whose works made him a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964. Widely regarded as one of the most important personalities in modern Japanese literature, Tanizaki's work ranges from the depictions of erotic obsessions to the dynamics of family life in 20th-century Japan. Many of his works have been adapted into films.
32 Kōbō Abe
Japanese surrealist author Kōbō Abe is remembered for his Kafka-esque style and his bestselling novels such as The Woman in the Dunes. Though he studied medicine, pushed into it by his physician father, he never practiced. The Akutagawa Prize winner was also initially a communist but was later expelled.
33 Ai Iijima
Ai Iijima was a Japanese writer, media personality, actress, and activist. She is best remembered for appearing in a softcore porn variety TV show titled Gilgamesh Night. After ending her career as a softcore porn actress, Iijima became associated with campaigns that aimed at educating people about HIV/AIDS.
Reki Kawahara is a Japanese author best known for writing Japanese light novel series, such as Accel World and Sword Art Online. Both the series have been adapted into anime and the Sword Art Online series has been adapted into an animated adventure film titled Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale. Kawahara is also credited with writing The Isolator.
Banana Yoshimoto is a Japanese writer whose debut work Kitchen inspired a couple of film adaptations. Kitchen also earned her the sixth Kaien Newcomers' Literary Prize in 1987. The following year, she received the 16th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature for a novella titled Moonlight Shadow. Her 1989 novel Goodbye Tsugumi inspired the 1990 movie Tugumi.
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.
Akiyuki Nosaka was a Japanese novelist, lyricist, and singer. He is best remembered for his children's stories about wars. In 1967, two of his stories namely American Hijiki and Grave of the Fireflies won the prestigious Naoki Prize. Many of his works, including his novel, The Pornographers, and short story, Grave of the Fireflies, have been adapted into films.
45 Sei Shōnagon
46 Juzo Itami
47 Ōkawa Shūmei
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.
Apart from serving as the governor of Tokyo, Japanese right-wing politician Shintaro Ishihara has also been an accomplished writer. He wrote the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Season of the Sun when he was still in school and later contributed to various plays and screenplays, too.