20 most popular Japanese actors taking the entertainment world by storm

20 most popular Japanese actors taking the entertainment world by storm

Japan has a rich and diverse film industry that has produced numerous talented and renowned actors throughout the years. Some have garnered global acclaim and acknowledgement for their contributions to Hollywood productions, while others have firmly established themselves as enduring symbols of Japanese cinema and cultural influence. Discover some of the most popular Japanese actors in this post.

Most popular Japanese actors Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada and Ken Watanabe
Actors Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada and Ken Watanabe. Photo: Daniel Boczarski, Axelle, Stefanie Keenan (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

In coming up with this list of famous Japanese actors, many factors have been considered, such as online rankings and lists, social media presence, film and TV ratings, and awards and recognitions. Other factors, including personal and professional achievements and fanbase size, have also played pivotal roles in determining their placement on the list.

Most popular Japanese actors

Below is a compilation of some of the most popular Japanese actors who have achieved prominence thanks to their exceptional skills and recognition through their achievements. Note that the list is not based on any particular order.

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1. Toshiro Mifune

The famous Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune raising a glass
Toshiro Mifune in his hotel room in Venice in September 1961. Photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 1 April 1920
  • Date of death: 24 December 1997 (aged 77)
  • Place of birth: Qingdao, China

Toshiro Mifune was a legendary actor whose illustrious career spanned several decades. Renowned for his collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa, Mifune's powerful performances in films such as Rashomon, Throne of Blood, and Seven Samurai contributed significantly to the global recognition of Japanese cinema. He died on 24 December 1997.

2. Hiroyuki Sanada

Hiroyuki Sanada at the Los Angeles Premiere of Lionsgate's "John Wick: Chapter 4" at TCL Chinese Theatre.
Hiroyuki Sanada at the Los Angeles Premiere of Lionsgate's "John Wick: Chapter 4" at TCL Chinese Theatre on 20 March 2023 in Hollywood, California. Photo: Monica Schipper (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 12 October 1960
  • Age: 63 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan

Hiroyuki Sanada, born Shimozawa, is a Japanese actor and martial artist. Commencing his career in the mid-1960s at the tender age of six, he rose to fame for his roles in Japanese and Hong Kong action films, later establishing himself as a dramatic actor. He is best known for his roles in movies and shows such as Ring, The Twilight Samurai, The Last Samurai, and Rush Hour 3.

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3. Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe during at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States.
Ken Watanabe during "Memoirs of a Geisha" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. Photo: Jean-Paul Aussenard (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 21 October 1959
  • Age: 64 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Hirokami, Niigata, Japan

Ken Watanabe is a highly acclaimed Japanese actor who has garnered international recognition for his compelling performances in Japanese and Hollywood films. Some of his notable films include The Last Samurai, Inception, Batman Begins, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Memoirs of a Geisha.

4. Noriyuki "Pat" Morita

Pat Morita during at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Pat Morita during The 57th Annual Academy Awards - Nominees Luncheon at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Ron Galella (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 28 June 1932
  • Date of death: 24 November 2005 (aged 73)
  • Place of birth: Isleton, California, United States

Pat Morita was a Japanese-American actor and comedian. He was widely known for his roles in Happy Days, The Karate Kid film series, M*A*S*H, Sanford and Son, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and Mulan and Mulan II. He won an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Karate Kid.

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5. Kento Yamazaki

Actor Kento Yamazaki at the Tokyo National Museum.
Actor Kento Yamazaki at the Georgio Armani 2020 Cruise Collection at the Tokyo National Museum on 24 May 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Jun Sato Aussenard (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 7 September 1994
  • Age: 29 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

Kento Yamazaki is a Japanese actor and model. He is widely known for his prominent roles in various shows and films, including L.DK, No Longer Heroine, Orange, Death Note, Kiss That Kills, Good Doctor, and Alice in Borderland.

6. Tadanobu Asano

Actor Tadanobu Asano at the Tokyo Station Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
Actor Tadanobu Asano at Louis Vuitton's "Timeless Muses" exhibition at the Tokyo Station Hotel on 29 August 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Jun Sato (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 27 November 1973
  • Age: 50 years old as of 2023 (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

Tadanobu Satō, popularly known as Tadanobu Asano, is among the famous actors from Japan. He is recognised for his appearances in various TV series and movies, including Electric Dragon 80.000 V, Ichi the Killer, Bright Future, Zatoichi, and The Taste of Tea. He won the Most Popular Performer Award at the 1997 Japanese Academy Awards.

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7. Masi Oka

Masi Oka at DGA in Hollywood, California, United States.
Masi Oka during The 24th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival - An Evening with "Heroes" at DGA in Hollywood, California, United States. Photo: Jason Merritt (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 27 December 1974
  • Age: 49 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan

Masayori "Masi" Oka is a Japanese actor, producer, and digital effects artis. He gained public recognition after portraying Hiro Nakamura in NBC's Heroes and Doctor Max Bergman in CBS's Hawaii Five-0.

8. Takuya Kimura

Takuya Kimura at the Press Conference-Gala Presentation 'I Come with the Rain' on 9 October 2009 in Busan, South Korea.
Takuya Kimura at the Press Conference-Gala Presentation 'I Come with the Rain' on 9 October 2009 in Busan, South Korea. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 13 November 1972
  • Age: 51 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Tokyo, Japan

Takuya Kimura is a Japanese actor, singer, and radio personality. He is widely regarded as one of the most famous and successful Japanese actors. He has starred in numerous TV dramas and films, earning accolades for his performances. His notable works include Long Vacation, Hero, and Love Generation.

9. Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa at Amazon Studios Golden Globes Celebration at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on 8 January 2017.
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa at Amazon Studios Golden Globes Celebration at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on 8 January 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Joe Scarnici (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 27 September 1950
  • Age: 73 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Higashiazabu, Tokyo, Japan

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Cary-Hiroyuki is an actor, film producer, and martial artist. He has appeared in various projects, often portraying characters with a strong martial arts influence. Some of his notable works include roles in films like Mortal Kombat, Rising Sun, The Last Emperor, Pearl Harbor, and Tekken.

10. Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano at the Hochi Film Awards at the Prince Park Tower Hotel.
Actor/director Takeshi Kitano at the Hochi Film Awards at the Prince Park Tower Hotel on 20 December 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Jun Sato (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 18 January 1947
  • Age: 77 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Adachi City, Tokyo, Japan

Takeshi Kitano, also known as Beat Takeshi, is a Japanese comedian, actor, and filmmaker. While renowned primarily as a comedian and television host in his home country, he has gained international acclaim for his contributions as a filmmaker and actor. He gained prominence as an actor in director Nagisa Ōshima's film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983).

11. Brian Tee

Japanese actor Brian Tee at the Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World" premiere at the Dolby Theatre.
Actor Brian Tee at the Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World" premiere at the Dolby Theatre on 9 June 2015 in Hollywood, California. Photo: Kevin Winter (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 15 March 1977
  • Age: 46 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Okinawa, Japan

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Jae-Beom Takata, professionally known as Brian Tee, is among the prominent Japanese actors in Hollywood. He is well-known for portraying Dr. Ethan Choi on the NBC medical drama Chicago Med and its spin-offs. He has also appeared in various including The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Wolverine, Jurassic World, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

12. Shun Oguri

Actor Shun Oguri at a press conference to promote the movie 'Lupin The Third'.
Actor Shun Oguri at a press conference to promote the movie 'Lupin The Third' on 19 August 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Sports Nippon (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 26 December 1982
  • Age: 41 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan

Shun Oguri is among the most popular Japanese voice actors. He gained early recognition for his role in the television drama Gokusen and became a popular actor in film and television. Some of his notable works include The Crows Zero, Lupin III, and Hana Yori Dango.

13. Hiro Kanagawa

Actor Hiro at Netflix's "Altered Carbon" season 1 premiere at Mack Sennett Studios.
Actor Hiro Kanagawa at Netflix's "Altered Carbon" season 1 premiere at Mack Sennett Studios on 1 February 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Paul Archuleta (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 13 October 1963
  • Age: 60 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Hokkaido, Japan

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Hironobu Kanagawa is a Japanese-Canadian actor and playwright based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has appeared in numerous notable television series, films, and stage productions, including The X-Files, Smallville, Caprica, Godzilla, Altered Carbon, iZombie, and Legends of Tomorrow.

14. Sota Fukushi

Sota Fukushi at 'As the Gods Will' Red Carpet during The 9th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica.
Sota Fukushi at 'As the Gods Will' Red Carpet during The 9th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on 18 October 2014 in Rome, Italy. Photo: Stefania D'Alessandro (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 30 May 1993
  • Age: 30 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese actor gained public attention after appearing in Kamen Rider Fourze as Gentaro Kisaragi. He has since been featured in various TV series and films such as Koinaka, My Lover's Secret, Strobe Edge, My Tomorrow, and Kaiji: Final Game.

15. Hiroshi Abe

Hiroshi Abe at the preview screening of Everest: The Summit of the Gods.
Actor/model Hiroshi Abe at the preview screening of Everest: The Summit of the Gods on 1 March 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Sports Nippon (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 22 June 1964
  • Age: 59 years old (as of 2024)
  • Birth place: Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

The Japanese actor gained recognition for his roles in Still Walking, Chocolate, and Godzilla 2000: Millennium. He has appeared in numerous films and TV series in Japan. He received the Best Actor award at the 63rd Mainichi Film Award in 2009.

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16. Takeshi Kaneshiro

Takeshi Kaneshiro during the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival on 15 May 2011 in Cannes, France.
Actor Takeshi Kaneshiro poses at the "Wu Xia" portrait session during the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival on 15 May 2011 in Cannes, France. Photo: Andreas Rentz (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 11 October 1973
  • Age: 50 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Taipei, Taiwan

Takeshi Kaneshiro is a Japanese actor and singer based in Taiwan. He began his career as a singer and model before transitioning to acting. His breakthrough came after appearing in the film Chungking Express. He has since been recognised for his performances in various films, including House of Flying Daggers, Red Cliff, and The Warlords.

17. Mamoru Miyano

Mamoru Miyano at the opening of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018.
Voice Actor Mamoru Miyano at the opening of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018 on 25 October 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Ken Ishii (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 8 June 1983
  • Age: 40 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Ōmiya, Saitama, Japan

Mamoru Miyano is a Japanese actor and singer. He is renowned for his great roles on various shows and films such as Steins; Gate and Durarara!!, Death Note, Soul Eater, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards and nominations, including the Best Voice Actor award at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair.

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18. Koji Yakusho

Koji Yakusho at the 48th Annual Toronto International Film Festival.
Koji Yakusho at the "Perfect Days" screening at the 48th Annual Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2023 in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Michael Buckner (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 1 January 1956
  • Age: 68 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Isahaya, Nagasaki, Japan

Kōji Hashimoto, best known as Kōji Yakusho, is one of the famous Japanese actors. He is recognised for his lead roles in Shall We Dance?, 13 Assassins, The Third Murder, The Blood of Wolves, Under the Open Sky, and The Day.

19. Masatoshi Nagase

Masatoshi Nagase at Toho Cinemas Roppongi.
Masatoshi Nagase at the Q&A Session at Toho Cinemas Roppongi on 8 November 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 15 July 1966
  • Age: 57 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

Masatoshi Nagase is among the famous Japanese male actors widely known for his roles in Friðrik Þór Friðriksson's Cold Fever and Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train. He has also appeared in Shinji Aoyama's Mike Yokohama: A Forest with No Name and Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade.

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20. Takeru Satoh

Satoh Takeru at the 9th Asian Film Awards in Macau
Satoh Takeru at the 9th Asian Film Awards in Macau on 25 March 2015. Photo: Philippe Lopez (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images
  • Date of birth: 21 March 1989
  • Age: 34 years old (as of 2024)
  • Place of birth: Iwatsuki, Saitama, Japan

The renowned actor is well-known for playing the role of Ryotaro Nogami in the Kamen Rider Den-O franchise and as Himura Kenshin in the live-action Rurouni Kenshin film and its sequels. His role in the anime series Mei-chan no Shitsuji earned him a 2009 Television Drama Academy Award.

Who is the most popular actor in Japan?

Hiroyuki Sanada is considered one of Japan's most popular actors and has been in the entertainment industry for over three decades. He is best known for his roles in Bullet Train, Army of the Dead, and The Last Ship.

Who is the most handsome actor in Japan?

Some of the famous handsome actors in Japan include Miura Haruma, Satoh Takeru, Yamazaki Kento, Machida Keita, and Honda Kyoya. These actors have made a great name in the movie industry on the local and international stage.

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Can foreigners become actors in Japan?

While the Japanese entertainment industry may have certain preferences or criteria for casting, it is not uncommon for non-Japanese individuals to pursue acting careers in Japan.

How much do Japanese actors get paid?

An actor's salary in Japan can vary based on their level of experience and the characters they portray. The prevailing annual salary for most actors is around JPY 10,556,400.

From seasoned veterans with decades of experience to emerging stars who have quickly risen to prominence, the Japanese entertainment industry boasts a rich tapestry of talent. The above popular Japanese actors have not only shaped the landscape of Japanese entertainment but have also captured the hearts of a global audience for their amazing acting skills.

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Source: Briefly News

Authors:
Rodah Mogeni avatar

Rodah Mogeni (Lifestyle writer) She is a content creator with more than 4 years of experience. She graduated from Chuka University with a BA degree in Journalism and Mass Communication (2023). She joined Briefly in 2019. Rodah has been working as a health/fitness writer at BetterMe (since 2020), London Brokers, The Hoth, and Ardor Content. In 2023, Rodah finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. Her email is rodahmugeni998@gmail.com

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