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Top 50 Most Popular Japanese Actors Of All Time

Shivam ParasharShivam-Posted July 27, 2022


Most Popular Japanese Actors Of All Time

 

We are all duly aware of the fact that both manga and anime are essential to Japanese culture and entertainment.

 

Since they have been given an unprecedented amount of room to flourish domestically, it is not surprising to observe then that they have managed to make a mark across the globe over the past few years as well.

 

Having said that, even though Japanese motion pictures and film stars may not be considered too mainstream within the global cinematic landscape yet, there certainly have been a lot many competent entertainers who have gone on to become household names within the country.

 

Courtesy of their participation in projects that received widespread international recognition, some of them have even caught the attention of the audience in western countries.

 

Before we continue with our thorough compilation of Japan's most popular figures from within the entertainment industry, we would like to notify our readers that - in addition to acting - our story also includes a handful of multi-talented personalities who have excelled at performing other cinematic duties.

 

Therefore, be prepared to find an exciting mix of contemporary and seasoned screen performers who have each demonstrated their respective cinematic skills in one form or another.

 

Also, do not be surprised to chance upon some of Japan's most popular voice actors in our piece for some of them have, indeed, been the voice behind several spectacular characters.

 

 

50. Yutaka Takenouchi

 

Yutaka Takenouchi

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 2, 1971
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 179 centimeters
Debut Year 1995
Debut TV Show Hoshi no kinka

 

Yutaka Takenouchi, who was first seen playing a part in the 1995 television series Hoshi no kinka, soon started doing a lot of commercials after having won a prestigious modeling contest.

 

Even though he has a calm screen image to adhere to, the slightly goofy roles that he has sometimes gone on to play have suited him as well.

 

That said, one of Takenouchi's better-known performances saw him portraying an authoritarian judge in the drama Ichikei no Karasu.

 

 

49. Kento Hayashi

 

Kento Hayashi

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 6, 1990
Place of Birth Ōtsu City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan
Height 173 centimeters
Debut Year 2007
Debut Film The Battery

 

Kento Hayashi, who made his acting debut in the motion picture The Battery in 2007, has participated in more than 30 projects thus far.

 

A good-looking actor with a likable screen presence, he was rewarded for his performance in the made-for-TV dramas Hold Me Back and Ossan’s Love, respectively.

 

Hayashi is also the star of the recently released feature film, titled Inubu. His cinematic future seems to be on the right track as of now.

 

 

48. Ryosuke Yamada

 

Ryosuke Yamada

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 9, 1993
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 164 centimeters
Debut Year 2006
Debut Television Film Tantei Gakuen Q

 

Also a singer from the group Hey! Say! JUMP, Ryosuke Yamada ventured into acting with the release of the television movie Tantei Gakuen Q in 2006.

 

His character play in the aforementioned series established him as a teen idol in no time. Known for his roles in projects such as Kindaichi Case Files, Assassination Classroom, and Grasshopper, Yamada was the first teenage male singer in over thirty-three years to have a number-one debut single.

 

 

47. Shota Sometani

 

Shota Sometani

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth September 3, 1992
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 172 centimeters
Debut Year 2001
Debut TV Show The Monday Night Mystery Theater

 

You might be surprised to learn that even though he is yet to turn 30, Shota Sometani has already participated in 100 film and television projects.

 

He is known for playing the role of the protagonist in feature films such as Himizu and Parasyte. For his adroit character projection in Himizu, the young actor went on to receive the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor at the Venice Film Festival in 2011.

 

 

46. Sho Kosugi

 

Sho Kosugi

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 17, 1948
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 184 centimeters
Debut Year 1974
Debut Film The Godfather Part II

 

Sho Kosugi may have turned out to be a prominent film figure during the 1980s but he started his professional acting career by playing a handful of uncredited roles in movies.

 

The former All Japan Karate Champion starred in a trilogy of martial arts ninja films during the 1980s and, thus, emerged as one of the most prominent figures whose contributions helped in establishing ninjas in popular culture.

 

Kosugi even used to run a group of martial arts acting schools when he was permanently staying in Japan.

 

 

45. Tatsuya Fujiwara

 

Tatsuya Fujiwara

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 15, 1982
Place of Birth Chichibu, Japan
Height 178 centimeters
Debut Year 1997
Debut TV Show Sore ga kotae da!

 

Tatsuya Fujiwara, who was first seen in the television series Sore ga kotae da! in 1997, is best known for playing the significant character of Shuya Nanahara in the Battle Royale films.

 

When it comes to his theatrical projects, he is known for collaborating with Yukio Ninagawa, who is considered by many to be one of Japan's most influential directors.

 

That said, Fujiwara can also be seen playing striking roles in the Death Note and Kaiji films.

 

 

44. Juzo Itami

 

Juzo Itami

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 15, 1933
Place of Birth Kyoto, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1960
Debut Film Mudcat of Ginza

 

Juzo Itami may have met with a rather unfortunate and mysterious death but he is one of the few film personalities who lived his life with a purpose.

 

Best known for his second feature film Tampopo which proved to be a renowned hit internationally, he was an actor, screenwriter, and director par excellence.

 

While he was also a decent actor, Itami is fondly remembered for directing films that touched upon the various sensitive aspects of Japanese society.

 

 

43. Sota Fukushi

 

Sota Fukushi

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 30, 1993
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 183 centimeters
Debut Year 2011
Debut TV Show Misaki Number One

 

This relatively new mainstream screen performer was first seen in the television show, titled Misaki Number One, in 2011.

 

The actor gained prominence after having played the role of Gentaro Kisaragi in the Japanese tokusatsu drama Kamen Rider Fourze.

 

Some of Fukushi's better-known television and film projects are Koinaka, My Lover's Secret, Strobe Edge, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, Bleach, and Kaiji: Final Game, to mention a few.

 

 

42. Kyu Sakamoto

 

Kyu Sakamoto

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 10, 1941
Place of Birth Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan
Height N/A
Debut Year 1955
Debut Film Takekurabe

 

Kyu Sakamoto, who made his acting debut in the 1955 drama film Takekurabe, is better known for his impactful singing rather than his acting.

 

However, he has been a part of several film projects. He was best known outside of his home country for his song "Sukiyaki", which turned out to be a massive hit in English-speaking markets.

 

Sakamoto was the first Asian recording artist to have a number one song on the United States Billboard Hot 100 list.

 

 

41. Kenichi Matsuyama

 

Kenichi Matsuyama

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 5, 1985
Place of Birth Mutsu, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 2002
Debut TV Show Gokusen

 

Kenichi Matsuyama, who made his acting debut in the television show Gokusen in 2002, is known for his affinity for playing different character roles.

 

The actor found fame after having participated in projects such as Death Note, Death Note 2: The Last Name, and L: Change the World, to mention a few.

 

Matsuyama is also known for having lent his voice to the character of Gelus in the Death Note animated adaptation.

 

 

40. Yoshimasa Hosoya

 

Yoshimasa Hosoya

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 10, 1982
Place of Birth Onomichi, Japan
Height 175 centimeters
Debut Year 2005
Debut TV Show Aria: The Animation

 

A voice actor and narrator, Yoshimasa Hosoya first participated in a television show, titled Aria: The Animation, in 2005.

 

The actor earned an award for Best Supporting Actor at both the 8th Seiyu Awards and 10th Seiyu Awards, respectively.

 

However, in the first half of 2017, Hosoya made an announcement that he will need to take a break from performing in order to undergo treatment for his throat.

 

He was back to his voice-acting duties within a few months though.

 

 

39. Tsuyoshi Kusanagi

 

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 9, 1974
Place of Birth Saitama, Japan
Height 170 centimeters
Debut Year 1990
Debut TV Show Tsukiumaya Oen jikenchô

 

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi is yet another multi-talented personality to hail from the entertainment industry of Japan. He is an actor, singer, and television host, who also used to be a member of SMAP, which was one of the best-selling boy bands in Asia at a point.

 

The actor won the Japan Academy Film Prize for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his outstanding performance in the critically acclaimed drama film Midnight Swan.

 

 

38. Hiroshi Tamaki

 

Hiroshi Tamaki

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 14, 1980
Place of Birth Nagoya, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1998
Debut TV Show GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka

 

Aside from being an actor, Hiroshi Tamaki is also a singer and model who was discovered by a talent agent while out shopping with friends.

 

He made his screen debut in 1998 and rose to prominence after playing a character in the 2001 film Waterboys.

 

The actor, who found further fame after enacting a role in the drama Nodame Cantabile, also started his singing career with the release of the single, "Seasons", in 2004.

 

 

37. Yuki Furukawa

 

Yuki Furukawa

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 18, 1987
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 179 centimeters
Debut Year 2010
Debut Film The Incite Mill

 

The multi-talented Yuki Furukawa is not only an actor but he is also a supermodel, guitarist, and break dancer who was first seen in the 2010 feature film The Incite Mill.

 

The actor shot to fame after having played the character of Naoki Irie in the television series Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo and its sequel, Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in Okinawa.

 

Since Furukawa is an acknowledged actor in China as well, he was cast in the Fuji TV/iQiyi web-drama Mysterious Summer which was the first drama series that Japan co-produced with China.

 

 

36. Ken Ogata

 

Ken Ogata

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 20, 1937
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 173 centimeters
Debut Year 1960
Debut Film Tôi hitotsu no michi

 

Akinobu Ogata, who was best known by his stage name Ken Ogata, is yet another acknowledged veteran Japanese actor to make it to our list.

 

A recipient of the Best Actor award at the 26th Blue Ribbon Awards for Okinawan Boys, he is known to have featured in movies such as The Pillow Book and The Ballad of Narayama.

 

However, it is said that his character projection of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1965 NHK Taiga drama Taikōki fetched him further fame.

 

 

35. Tori Matsuzaka

 

Tori Matsuzaka

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 17, 1988
Place of Birth Kanagawa, Japan
Height 181 centimeters
Debut Year 2009
Debut TV Show Kamen Rider Decade

 

Tori Matsuzaka, who made his professional acting debut in 2009, is a relatively fresh screen performer to make it to our list.

 

The actor and model made his debut appearance as Takeru Shiba/Shinken Red in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Since then, he has been seen participating in several popular film and television projects.

 

Matsuzaka is a well-known film figure among the youth in Japan today. Even though he is known to be soft-spoken, it is pretty clear that he often selects scripts whose themes seem to be questioning the government in one way or another.

 

 

34. Masaki Suda

 

Masaki Suda

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 21, 1993
Place of Birth Minoh, Japan
Height 176 centimeters
Debut Year 2009
Debut Film Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker

 

A well-regarded actor and singer in Japan, Masaki Suda has been a recipient of the Japan Academy Film Prize for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his amazing performance in Wilderness.

 

The actor, who has been a close junior to other film personalities such as Shun Oguri and Takayuki Yamada, released his debut song "Mita Koto mo Nai Keshiki" not long after he became famous.

 

Suda even won the Best New Actor Award from Tama Cinema Forum.

 

 

33. Junichi Suwabe

 

Junichi Suwabe

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 29, 1972
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 173 centimeters
Debut Year 1992
Debut TV Show Tenchi Muyo!

 

This voice actor and singer from Tokyo has made a name for himself by participating in features such as Megaman Zero 3, The Prince of Tennis, Yuri!!! on ICE, Bleach, and Fairy Tail, to name a few.

 

Junichi Suwabe, who has been a dubbing voice for Korean actor Gong Yoo, has been nominated for a Best Singing Award at the 6th Seiyu Awards.

 

Also, he went on to grab the Best Supporting Actor award at the 7th Seiyu Awards.

 

 

32. Shun Oguri

 

Shun Oguri

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 26, 1982
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 184 centimeters
Debut Year 1995
Debut TV Show Hachidai shôgun Yôshimun

 

Son of stage director Tetsuya Oguri, Shun Oguri is an actor and voice actor who has been a part of the Japanese entertainment industry ever since he made his debut during the mid-1990s.

 

The actor has been a part of over 100 projects so far. Some of his best-known features are Lupin the 3rd, Crows Zero, and Gintama.

 

Oguri, who has also directed films, made his Hollywood debut in the monster movie Godzilla vs. Kong.

 

 

31. Takahiro Sakurai

 

Takahiro Sakurai

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 13, 1974
Place of Birth Okazaki, Japan
Height 177 centimeters
Debut Year 2000
Debut TV Show Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoFive

 

Takahiro Sakurai is yet another entertaining personality from Japan who is known more for his voice than his face.

 

Also a narrator and a radio personality, he is the official dub voice for Hollywood star Robert Pattinson ever since he first lent his voice for the dubbed version of the popular film Twilight.

 

Some of Sakurai's most popular roles are heroes such as X in Mega Man X and Cloud Strife in Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

 

 

30. Tsutomu Yamazaki

 

Tsutomu Yamazaki

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 2, 1936
Place of Birth Chiba, Japan
Height 174 centimeters
Debut Year 1960
Debut Film Daigaku no sanzôkutachi

 

Best known for playing the character of "Nenbutsu no Tetsu" on the television jidaigeki Hissatsu Shiokinin and Shin Hissatsu Shiokinin, Tsutomu Yamazaki started making his presence felt in the film industry with the dawn of the 1960s.

 

A recipient of the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Actor in 1984, the actor is known to have worked with Akira Kurosawa for the first time during the initial years of his career itself.

 

Some of his better performances came in feature films such as Tampopo, Red Beard, High and Low, and The Ramen Girl, to name a few.

 

 

29. Tomohisa Yamashita

 

Tomohisa Yamashita

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 9, 1985
Place of Birth Funabashi, Japan
Height 175 centimeters
Debut Year 1999
Debut TV Show Dangerous Relationship

 

Besides being a well-known screen performer, Tomohisa Yamashita is also a television host and singer. Popularly known as Yamapi or Tomo, he excelled as an actor after having played the leading role in the popular drama Kurosagi.

 

Some of his better projects are Nobuta Wo Produce, Proposal Daisakusen, Buzzer Beat, and the Code Blue series. His recently released film, Code Blue the movie, turned out to be among the highest-grossing live-action Japanese films of all time.

 

 

28. Hiroshi Kamiya

 

Hiroshi Kamiya

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 28, 1975
Place of Birth Chiba, Japan
Height 168 centimeters
Debut Year 1995
Debut TV Show Armitage III

 

Japan is known for producing some of the finest voice actors and Hiroshi Kamiya happens to be one of them.

 

Often cast as the straight man in comedy animes, he first participated in the 1995 television mini-series Armitage III.

 

Aside from being a prominent voice artist, he is also a narrator and singer who is affiliated with Aoni Production.

 

Kamiya has won Best Lead Actor and Best Personality at the 3rd Seiyu Awards, and Best Supporting Actor at the 2nd Seiyu Awards, respectively.

 

 

27. Takeru Satoh

 

Takeru Satoh

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 21, 1989
Place of Birth Saitama, Japan
Height 171 centimeters
Debut Year 2006
Debut TV Show Princess Princess D

 

Best known for portraying the lead character of Ryotaro Nogami in the Kamen Rider Den-O franchise, Takeru Satoh had worked as a child actor for a couple of years by mostly appearing in television commercials and doing photoshoots for magazines.

 

He made his professional acting debut in the television show Princess Princess D in 2006. His character play of Himura Kenshin in the live-action Rurouni Kenshin film and its sequels helped him gain further fame.

 

 

26. Shintaro Katsu

 

Shintaro Katsu

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 29, 1931
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 173 centimeters
Debut Year 1954
Debut Film Hana no Byakkotai

 

Shintaro Katsu was an actor, singer, and filmmaker who was best known for starring in the Akumyo series. He had started his career during the mid-1950s.

 

The actor, who initially began his career in the entertainment industry as a shamisen player, soon turned to acting because he thought that it paid better.

 

During the 1960s, Katsu starred in three long-running and popular film franchises that continued to rank among his finest cinematic projects till the end of his film career.

 

 

25. Sonny Chiba

 

Sonny Chiba

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 22, 1939
Place of Birth Fukuoka, Japan
Height 179 centimeters
Debut Year 1959
Debut TV Show Nana-iro Kamen

 

Sadaho Maeda, who was known by his stage name Sonny Chiba, was one of the first few actors in the history of Japanese cinema who gained stardom banking majorly on his unmatched martial arts skills.

 

Even though the actor started appearing in television shows during the 1960s, he gained prominence following the theatrical release of the 1974 film The Street Fighter.

 

Two of his well-acknowledged Hollywood titles are Kill Bill: Volume 1 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

 

 

24. Takuya Kimura

 

Takuya Kimura

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 13, 1972
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 176 centimeters
Debut Year 1990
Debut Television Film About Her Brother

 

Takuya Kimura, who made his acting debut in the television movie About Her Brother in 1990, is also a singer and radio personality.

 

He used to be a leading member of SMAP, one of the best-selling boy bands in Asia. However, after the success of the television drama series Long Vacation, Kimura shot to fame as a screen performer as well.

 

Soon after, Kimura was dubbed "The King of Ratings" by the media and his supporters alike. This is because several of the shows that he starred in went on to generate high ratings.

 

In fact, some of them even became a social phenomenon of sorts after having been aired on television.

 

 

23. Daisuke Ono

 

Daisuke Ono

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 4, 1978
Place of Birth Sakawa, Japan
Height 174 centimeters
Debut Year 2003
Debut TV Show Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch

 

Daisuke Ono is easily among the most prominent voice actors in the history of the Japanese entertainment industry. Known for having voiced a ton of significant characters, he made his acting debut in the television show Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch in 2003.

 

Also a singer and a co-host of the radio show Dear Girl: Stories, Ono can be seen participating in projects such as Attack on Titan, Barakamon, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Seven Deadly Sins, Durarara!!, Osomatsu-san, Kuroko's Basketball, Brothers Conflict, and Cells at Work, to name a few.

 

While he won the 2nd Seiyu Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2008, he even ended up grabbing the 9th Seiyu Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Personality in 2015.

 

 

22. Hideaki Anno

 

Hideaki Anno

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 22, 1960
Place of Birth Ube, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1985
Debut Film Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushu

 

Hideaki Anno is another personality from the entertainment world of Japan who, aside from being an actor, is also an animator and filmmaker.

 

We are certain of the fact that years later, Anno will first be remembered for having created the influential anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

 

Those who are familiar with Japan's entertainment industry are aware of the fact that the Evangelion franchise has made a considerable impact on the anime television industry and popular culture of the nation.

 

As an actor, Anno can be recently seen in titles such as Last Letter and Shin Ultraman.

 

 

21. Takeshi Kitano

 

Takeshi Kitano

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 18, 1947
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 165 centimeters
Debut Year 1969
Debut TV Show Go, Go Second Time Virgin

 

Takeshi Kitano has been a part of the film industry ever since the late 1960s. Besides being an actor, he is also a comedian, television presenter, filmmaker, and author.

 

Even though he first gained prominence as a comedian and television host, he soon made a name for himself as a film director and actor as well.

 

Our readers would be elated to learn that he was also known for hosting the immensely game show Takeshi's Castle (1986-1990).

 

That said, this multi-talented personality, who is popularly called "Beat Takeshi", can be seen in motion pictures such as Battle Royale, Violent Cop, Outrage Coda, Brother, and Blood and Bones, among others.

 

 

20. Mamoru Miyano

 

Mamoru Miyano

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 8, 1983
Place of Birth Saitama, Japan
Height 182 centimeters
Debut Year 1992
Debut TV Show Tokusou ekushiidorafuto

 

As popular as Mamoru Miyano may be for his film projects, he is also equally known for his musical accomplishments.

 

A recipient of the Best Voice Actor award at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair, the star released his debut single in the May of 2007.

 

For lending his voice to the character of Light Yagami in the anime series Death Note, he received nominations for the Best Lead Actor and Best New Actor awards at the inaugural Seiyuu Awards.

 

 

19. Chishū Ryū

 

Chishū Ryū

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 13, 1904
Place of Birth Kumamoto, Japan
Height 178 centimeters
Debut Year 1928
Debut Film Dreams of Youth

 

Chishū Ryū, who had a long and illustrious professional acting career, was known for his frequent collaborations with director Yasujirô Ozu.

 

One of the most versatile screen performers to make it to our list, he often used to bring the humane side of his characters to the fore while playing the quintessential common man on the silver screen.

 

Some of Ryū's best performances came in motion pictures such as The Only Son, Tokyo Story, and An Autumn Afternoon.

 

 

18. Takeshi Kaneshiro

 

Takeshi Kaneshiro

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 11, 1973
Place of Birth Taipei, Taiwan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1991
Debut TV Show Grassland Champion

 

Takeshi Kaneshiro, who made his television debut by playing a role in Grassland Champion, started his career in the entertainment industry as a teen pop star.

 

He soon started utilizing his popularity to make a mark in the movie industry as well. Needless to say, he found both critical and commercial success in his numerous cinematic endeavors.

 

Also well known in the gaming industry, Kaneshiro can be seen in feature films such as Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, Lost and Found, and Anna Magdalena, to name a few.

 

His best performances have come playing quirky and character-driven roles.

 

 

17. Tadanobu Asano

 

Tadanobu Asano

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 27, 1973
Place of Birth Yokohama, Japan
Height 178 centimeters
Debut Year 1979
Debut TV Show Mr. Kinpachi in Class 3B

 

Tadanobu Asano was only six years old when he faced the camera for the first time for the television show Mr.

 

Kinpachi in Class 3B. While he made his television debut a lot earlier, his motion picture debut came in 1990's Swimming Upstream.

 

However, he tasted success only after the release of the Shunji Iwai directorial venture, titled Fried Dragon Fish. Some of Asano's finest performances came in feature films such as Gohatto, Zatoichi, Bright Future, and Mongol.

 

One of his movies, The Taste of Tea, had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

 

 

16. Hiroshi Abe

 

Hiroshi Abe

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 22, 1964
Place of Birth Kanagawa, Japan
Height 189 centimeters
Debut Year 1989
Debut Film Yawara!

 

Hiroshi Abe has been a reliable big screen name for as long as thirty years now. A model and actor, he is best known for his character projection in features such as Still Walking, Chocolate, and Godzilla 2000: Millennium.

 

The actor starred in the hugely popular television series Dragon Zakura. It is said that on the night that it first aired, the show captured almost 30% of Japan’s entire television viewing population.

 

Needless to say, Abe is a star who continues to be a part of big-ticket releases.

 

 

15. Masayori "Masi" Oka

 

Masayori "Masi" Oka

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 27, 1974
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 168 centimeters
Debut Year 2001
Debut Television Film Straight White Male

 

Masayori Oka, who is best known as Masi Oka, is a Japanese actor, producer, and digital effects artist who shot to fame after playing the role of Hiro Nakamura in the NBC television series, titled Heroes.

 

After having landed in Los Angeles, California for the purpose of finding better work opportunities, Oka was seen playing several minor roles in both films and television.

 

His performance in Heroes fetched him nominations for both a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

 

 

14. Kento Yamazaki

 

Kento Yamazaki

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth September 7, 1994
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 178 centimeters
Debut Year 2010
Debut TV Show Atami no Sôsakan

 

Currently being guided by the Japanese talent agency Stardust Promotion, Kento Yamazaki has managed to make a name for himself by appearing in both mainstream feature films and television shows.

 

While he is best known for his roles in the films Heroine Shikkaku, Orange, and Kingdom, one can also find him performing in shows such as Death Note, Kiss That Kills, Good Doctor, and Alice in Borderland.

 

Yamazaki, who participated in the 2nd Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (TIQFF) in 2015, gained prominence after having starred in the live-action film, titled L DK.

 

 

13. Brian Tee

 

Brian Tee

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 15, 1977
Place of Birth Okinawa, Japan
Height 175 centimeters
Debut Year 2000
Debut Film What Planet Are You From?

 

Jae-Beom Takata, who is professionally known as Brian Tee, was first seen playing an uncredited role in the 2000 feature film, titled What Planet Are You From?.

 

He excelled in American film and television by participating in well-known film and television projects such as Chicago Med, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Wolverine, Jurassic World, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, to mention a few.

 

Besides being excellent in the English language, Tee is also known to be proficient in both Korean and Japanese.

 

 

12. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

 

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth September 27, 1950
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1986
Debut Film Big Trouble in Little China

 

This Japanese-born American actor, film producer, and martial artist was first seen playing a part in the 1986 feature film, titled Big Trouble in Little China.

 

The actor made a name for himself by mostly playing negative roles in some of his most popular motion pictures.

 

He delivered praiseworthy performances in titles such as The Last Emperor, Mortal Kombat, Licence to Kill, American Me, Rising Sun, The Phantom, Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes, Memoirs of a Geisha, and 47 Ronin, to mention a few.

 

Tagawa, who started working with Russian film actors Pyotr Mamonov and Ivan Okhlobystin in the year 2013, decided to acquire Russian citizenship in 2016.

 

 

11. Haruma Miura

 

Haruma Miura

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 5, 1990
Place of Birth Tsuchiura, Japan
Height 179 centimeters
Debut Year 1997
Debut TV Show Aguri

 

This Japanese actor and singer made his professional acting debut in a television series, titled Aguri, in 1997. He had won a well-deserved Newcomer of the Year at the 31st Japan Academy Prize for his character projection in the drama film Koizora.

 

Even though he was only 30 years old when he unfortunately passed, Miura had already been a part of some popular mainstream projects such as Gokusen, Bloody Monday, Naoko, Kimi ni Todoke, Last Cinderella, Boku no Ita Jikan, The Eternal Zero, Attack on Titan, and Gintama 2.

 

 

10. Makoto Iwamatsu

 

Makoto Iwamatsu

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 10, 1933
Place of Birth Kobe, Japan
Height 163 centimeters
Debut Year 1959
Debut Film Never So Few

 

Makoto Iwamatsu, who was credited as Mako in most of his motion pictures, was first seen in the 1959 film Never So Few.

 

Some of his better performances came in feature films such as The Sand Pebbles, The Island at the Top of the World, Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, and Seven Years in Tibet, to name a few.

 

For his character projection in The Sand Pebbles, Iwamatsu was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Later in his career, the actor was also seen taking up voice acting roles.

 

 

9. Hiroyuki Sanada

 

Hiroyuki Sanada

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 12, 1960
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 169 centimeters
Debut Year 1965
Debut Film Game of Chance

 

Hiroyuki Sanada, who was born Hiroyuki Shimosawa, has been making his presence felt in the film industry since the first half of the 1960s.

 

Known for his affinity for action scenes, the Japanese actor and martial artist gained fame after having featured in projects such as Ninja in the Dragon's Den, Ring, The Twilight Samurai, The Last Samurai, Rush Hour 3, and Mortal Kombat, to mention a few.

 

The actor was noticed in the United Kingdom for his character play of 'The Fool' in the Shakespeare play King Lear.

 

In his home country, Sanada is also popular for recording and performing live music.

 

 

8. Ken Takakura

 

Ken Takakura

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 16, 1931
Place of Birth Nakama, Fukuoka, Japan
Height 180 centimeters
Debut Year 1956
Debut Film Denkô ryûsei karate uchi

 

Known for the honorable presence that he brought to his roles, Ken Takakura was a prominent Japanese actor who was referred to by many as the "Clint Eastwood of Japan." The actor gained recognition in the western nations after having featured in motion pictures such as The Yakuza and Black Rain.

 

Takakura received the Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role four times, which is more than what any other actor has received so far in the country.

 

 

7. Minoru Chiaki

 

Minoru Chiaki

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 30, 1917
Place of Birth Hokkaido, Japan
Height 182 centimeters
Debut Year 1949
Debut Film Stray Dog

 

Minoru Chiaki, who was born Katsuharu Sasaki, is one of the most underrated actors in the history of Japanese cinema.

 

Equally adept at portraying serious and comical characters, he is known to have played supporting roles that went on to become hugely popular in motion pictures such as Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and High and Low, to mention a few.

 

That said, Chiaki performed his best in the films such as Seven Samurai and Gray Sunset. For his performance in the latter, the actor ended up winning his first best actor trophy from the Japanese academy.

 

 

6. Sessue Hayakawa

 

Sessue Hayakawa

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 10, 1886
Place of Birth Minamiboso, Japan
Height 171 centimeters
Debut Year 1914
Debut Film The Typhoon

 

This Japanese actor and a matinée idol was one of the most popular actors in Hollywood during the silent era of filmmaking in the 1910s and 1920s.

 

Courtesy of his good looks, Sessue Hayakawa became one of the earliest film stars to make women swoon over him.

 

It is not surprising then that he was among the first few Asian actors to have found stardom in both Europe and the United States of America. ‘The Cheat’ actor was mostly seen playing either a forbidden lover or a sexually dominant antagonist during the first few years of his career.

 

 

5. Noriyuki "Pat" Morita

 

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 28, 1932
Place of Birth Isleton, California, United States of America
Height 160 centimeters
Debut Year 1964
Debut Film Car Thieves

 

Pat Morita was a Japanese-American actor and comedian who was best known to the mainstream audience for his participation in television and film projects such as Happy Days, The Karate Kid film series, M*A*S*H, Sanford and Son, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Mulan, and Mulan II, respectively.

 

He also played the main lead in acclaimed television programs such as Mr. T and Tina and Ohara. They were both credited with being among the first few television shows with an Asian American lead.

 

For his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in the popular film The Karate Kid, Morita received a well-deserved nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

 

 

4. Ken Watanabe

 

Ken Watanabe

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 21, 1959
Place of Birth Uonuma, Japan
Height 185 centimeters
Debut Year 1983
Debut TV Show Taiyō ni Hoero!

 

Ken Watanabe is an international name who has participated in both Japanese and American movies. The English audience might best know him for his character protection in popular titles such as Inception, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Batman Begins.

 

One of the only few Japanese actors to have made a smooth transition from Japan to the United States of America, he has won the Japanese Academy Award for best actor twice.

 

Watanabe was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the Tom Cruise starrer The Last Samurai.

 

 

3. Takashi Shimura

 

Takashi Shimura

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 12, 1905
Place of Birth Ikuno, Hyogo, Japan
Height 172 centimeters
Debut Year 1934
Debut Film Ren'ai gai itchôme

 

Takashi Shimura, who was born Shoji Shimazaki, was one of the greatest film actors of the bygone century. One of filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's favorites, Shimura was known for his versatility and character acting.

 

Those who have seen him in the movies best remember him for his memorable performance in 1952's Ikiru. His expressions do not only heighten his character projection but they end up making the story immortal in the true sense of the word itself.

 

Always known for staying true to his characters, the actor is fondly remembered for participating in classic feature films such as Stray Dog, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Godzilla, to name a few.

 

 

2. Tatsuya Nakadai

 

Tatsuya Nakadai

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 13, 1932
Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan
Height 178 centimeters
Debut Year 1954
Debut Film Seven Samurai

 

This remarkable lead actor was known for his range and his superbly enacted performances in acclaimed motion pictures such as Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low, Kagemusha, and Ran.

 

Easily one of the most popular Japanese film stars of all time, he was also appreciated for his character play in Masaki Kobayashi's Human Condition trilogy and Samurai Rebellion.

 

Nakadai was an actor who was revered by top film directors such as Masaki Kobayashi and Akira Kurosawa. It is not surprising to learn then that they signed him for several of their significant projects.

 

Even though he is more or less retired now, one cannot deny the fact that Tatsuya Nakadai has established himself as one of the greatest film stars in the history of Japanese entertainment.

 

 

1. Toshiro Mifune

 

Toshiro Mifune

 

Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 1, 1920
Place of Birth Tsingtao, China [now Qingdao, Shandong, China]
Height 172 centimeters
Debut Year 1947
Debut Film Snow Trail

 

Ask any film historian and they will humbly concede that Toshiro Mifune is, in fact, the most popular and the greatest Japanese superstar of all time.

 

Known for having played the main lead in almost every one of Akira Kurosawa's ambitious projects between 1948 and 1965, Mifune was famous for his unmatched ability to bring the characters that he used to portray to life on the big screen.

 

The actor had been seen playing a worried and helpless father, a merciless samurai, an honorable cop, a doctor, a bandit, and a gangster in some of his finest feature films.

 

Besides Akira Kurosawa, a lot many film directors and critics acknowledge that Mifune was a one-of-a-kind talent; a kind that nobody in the history of Japanese entertainment had encountered before or after him.

 

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