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.
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.
George Miller, also known as Joji and Filthy Frank, is a Japanese singer-songwriter, record producer, author, and comedian. He began his career in the entertainment industry through his many now-defunct YouTube channels. After gaining fame as a social media personality, he retired his channels to focus on his mainstream musical career. He now produces R&B and Trip-Hop music.
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.
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.
Miyavi is a Japanese singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and record producer. Apart from being an entertainer, Miyavi is also a volunteer at UNHCR; since 2013, he has been visiting several refugee camps across the world. He was made an official UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in November 2017.
Seiyu Award-winning voice actor Rie Kugimiya is best known for her work in anime/manga productions such as Toradora! and Nabari no Ou. Known as the Queen of Tsundere, she is fond of reading in her leisure time. She has also appeared on stage and in video games.
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.
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.
Nobel Prize-winning Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka is known for his contribution to stem cell research. He developed the induced pluripotent stem cell, a stem cell that can be created directly from a somatic cell. He is a professor at Kyoto University’s Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences and has held several senior research positions.
Nobel Prize-winning Japanese physicist Reona Esaki, also known as Leo Esaki, is remembered for his pioneering research on superconductivity. He devised the Esaki diode, or tunnel diode, too. Initially associated with IBM’s research laboratories in the US, he later moved back to Japan and headed scientific institutions.
Best remembered for his Godzilla series of films, among more than 200 other films, which he made with Toho Studios, producer Tanaka Tomoyuki had also produced several films for Akira Kurosawa, including the Academy Award-nominated and Palme d'Or-winning Kagemusha. He was married to Japanese actor Chieko Nakakita.
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.
Den Fujita set up the first McDonald's franchise in Japan and was hugely successful owing to its signature dish, the Japanese-styled Teriyaki McBurger. He also headed companies such as Toys 'R' Us and Softbank, and penned several books on business strategy, too, including the bestseller The Jewish Way of Doing Business.
The founder-president of the Nippon Foundation, Ryōichi Sasakawa was a far-right politician, businessman, and philanthropist. During WWII, he actively supported his country’s war efforts, leading to his imprisonment by the Allied forces after the fall of Japan; but he was released due to lack of evidence. Thereafter, he set up various successful businesses, which include motorboat racing and ship building.
Sakyo Komatsu was a Japanese writer and screenwriter. Counted among the most popular and influential science fiction writers in Japan, Komatsu is best known for writing such novels as Sayonara Jupiter and Japan Sinks, which were adapted into films. In 1985, he won the prestigious Nihon SF Taisho Award for his work.
Risa Sato is a Filipino-Japanese volleyball player who has played as a middle blocker for the Philippines women's national volleyball team. She has also played for the Creamline Cool Smashers, which competes in the Premier Volleyball League.
Award-winning Japanese manga-artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi is generally credited for starting the gekiga style of alternative manga in Japan. This style of Japanese comics (name coined by Tatsumi in 1957) features more mature themes, graphic and violence. Noted works of Tatsumi in this style include Black Blizzard, The Push Man and Other Stories and Fallen Words.
While she stunned art lovers with her Electric Dress made of hundreds of painted electric bulbs, avant-garde artist Atsuko Tanaka was part of the Japanese Gutai movement, which made use of objects such as lights, doorbells, and textiles. Her performance art and installations redefined Japanese art.