Famous Japanese

27 Nov

People around the world can name American presidents, American movie actors, American pop music artists, American companies, and American fictional characters.

They’re world famous.

It’s been that way for at least a few generations now.

But before I came to Japan, there was no internet back then and Japanese food and pop culture wasn’t popular around the world like it’s become in recent years.
Back then, I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Japanese prime minister.
The only Japanese actor I knew back then was Pat Morita (from “Karate Kid“)…and he was actually a Japanese-American.
The only Japanese musicians I knew were Yoko Ono and the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness.
Of course, I would have been able to name a number of Japanese companies such as Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Honda, etc.
As for Japanese fictional characters, I knew Ultraman and Godzilla.

I’ve now been living in Japan for most of my life…so, I probably know more about Japan than I know about America anymore.

How about you? How familiar are you with Japan and Japanese culture?

What famous Japanese people do you know?
Japanese characters?
How about Japanese food / dishes?
Actors / actresses?
Bands / musicians?
How about Japanese words?
Japanese cities?
Or any other things you know about Japan?

36 Responses to “Famous Japanese”

  1. Mesothelioma June 17, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    always i used to read smaller content that also clear their motive,
    and that is also happening with this paragraph which
    I am reading now.


    • tokyo5 June 17, 2016 at 8:20 am #

      I’m not really sure what you mean.


  2. wikazuki January 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    I know not so much about Japan and Japanese, but I’m a anime fan then I learned the name of the best sensei…

    I know all the characters of the production of the sensei Hayao Miyazaki, I love his movies! Another sensei I like is Hideo Kojima with his work crew, although he deals with videogames.

    Then I know a lot of characters from the japanese animation (Doraemon, Lupin, Sampei, the cast of Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Mila & Shiro, Holly & Benji and more and more others. Naturally I love the Gundam universe, it’s my passion with its characters and mecha! One upon the others is certainly Char Aznable, the ‘Red Comet’).

    I know few japanese food, only ramen, tempura and sushi/sashimi, even if I don’t eat fish. I would like to try a bowl of ramen!!!

    Words I know are arigato, konichiwa, sensei, neko, and others I don’t remember in this moment.

    Cities I know are only the most famous: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagano, Nagasaki, Fukushima, Yokohama, Chiba and Okinawa.

    I know also the world of japanese static model (both fantasy and military) and the world of videogame (Nintendo, Sony, Square Enix, Bandai, Namco, ecc…)

    I’m sorry for my macaronic english…XD


    • tokyo5 January 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      You know many Japanese things!

      How do you know “kon-nichi-wa and neko“?

      And why do you know the city of Chiba?

      You want to eat Japanese ramen?
      I ate ramen today, by coincidence.


      • wikazuki January 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

        I learned the word ‘neko’ watching a japanese anime called Mayoi Neko Overrun…Kon-nichi-wa i think is a word of the most popular, I heard this word on many occasions…

        I learned the city of Chiba in different documentaries about Japan and japanese country; it’s not far to Tokyo, right?

        I want eat a mega-sized bowl of ramen…I wish to come in Japan to taste the original!

        However talking about Chiba, I remembered that I even know the Japanese actor Sonny Chiba, the great Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill movie!

        And I’ve forgot the super funny emperor Akihito, he has a pleasant face and gentle expression…XD


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 12:40 am #

        Yes Chiba is near Tokyo.
        It’s the peninsula to the east of Tokyo. Tokyo Bay is between Tokyo and Chiba.

        What type of ramen do you like?
        I like Tan-tan-men the most … because I like spicy food.


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 12:53 am #

        I don’t know the different versions of ramen, but I like all the vegetables and spicy, then I think I like the tan-tan-men…I know only the Shōyu ramen (but the brode it’s with fish, and I don’t eat fish) and the Miso ramen, but I think there are other different versions, right?

        I wish eat ramen like Zenigata in Rupan Sansei (Kyū)…XD


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 2:03 am #

        How do you know so many things about Japan?
        Have you been here?


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

        I’m just a fan of Japan, I’ve never been there, but is my personal wish to come!
        I love Japan and the japanese culture, so continue to inform me at 360 degrees about everything that relates…
        To learn I look your site (XD), wikipedia, and others; I buy japanese merchandise and japanese magazine (modeling magazine; do you know Hobby Japan Magazine and Dengeki Hobby?); I watch too many documentaries…everything about Japan…
        I hope to be able to come (sooner or later)…Meanwhile I’m happy to see how Japan is through your post!


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

        Thanks. Please visit my site and comment often in 2013!

        I don’t read those magazines but I’ve seen them.

        Which documentaries have you watched?


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

        I don’t remember the titles of the documentaries, but I have seen several; some italian documentaries, some from the english television (BBC), some from lonely planet, and others…

        I follow your site about a year, and certainly I’ll follow you in this 2013…


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

        What part of Italy are you from?


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

        Brescia, near Milan. in this country produces some famous Italian wines, very good!


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

        My grandfather was Sicilian.


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

        You’re a really cosmopolitan…XD

        american with an italian granfather, live in Japan, and then what?

        my mom is venezuelan, but her parents are italian…this is the only exception, the others are all italian…thinking it would be nice to have a Japanese girlfriend, I creed it’s so cool…


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

        My grandfather was Italian … but I’ve never been to Italy.
        I’d like to visit there.


      • wikazuki January 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

        Italy it’s a amazing country…there have a lot of beautiful places, but if you live here you will discover some problems…in this moment the economy is bad, and the politicians are all wrong to the good of the state…they think only of their interests, and then the country doesn’t have the right people in charge to guide choices in a constructive manner…

        fortunately, there are the artistic and cultural riches to minimize the damage of politicians…


      • tokyo5 January 4, 2013 at 1:00 am #

        Well, I’d like to visit there … but I’ll probably never have a chance.


      • wikazuki January 4, 2013 at 1:12 am #

        it’s the same for me and the Japan…

        it’s too expansive the ticket to fly (over 1.000 €) and I heard the cost of the life in Japan is among the most expensive in the world…for an italian salary even more…XD


      • tokyo5 January 4, 2013 at 1:53 am #

        Yeah … international travel is expensive!


  3. Musings November 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I guess it wouldn’t be fair for me since my mother is constantly updating me on everything Japanese. She watches the news from Japan every morning and sometimes knows more than our Japanese friend who we Skype with regularly.


    • tokyo5 November 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      And you live in Hawaii, which has a large Japanese population…I’ve heard.
      What are your favorite Japanese dishes, songs, movies, etc.?


      • Musings December 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

        Japanese dishes: Sushi, ramen, tempura, soba, tofu. I loved all the food when we were in Japan.

        Songs? I just heard Hana wa Saku and it’s beautiful. My mother used to sing so many Japanese children’s songs when I was a child that I loved but my favorite was Karasu Naze Nakuno?

        Movies? The last series we liked on NHK as Ryomaden. We even went to visit his museum when we were last in Japan. Oh yes… and we loved Departures (Okuribito) and the one about the kids and the shinkansen. Darn. I forgot the title.


      • tokyo5 December 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

        It’s great that your mother taught you about Japanese culture!


  4. Ashley Løseth November 29, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Hmm.. let’s see…
    1. Way too many to list!

    2. Doraemon, of course! Everyone from seasons one and two of Digimon (the show that started it all when I was a kid)… Inu Yasha… Any characters from Studio Ghibli films.. and a lot of characters from anime picked up by Funimation Entertainment since the first Full Metal Alchemist series.

    3. Curry rice! I’ve made it many times using glico curry. I’ve also tried udon soup, yaki udon, yakisoba (though it was a failed attempt) and most recently, authentic ramen at a local Japanese restaurant. I’m not a seafood fan, so any “shushi” I’ve tried is American.
    4. My favourites are Yamashita Tomohisa, Oguri Shun, Watanabe Ken, Ikematsu Sosuke, Ikuta Toma, Narimiya Hiroki and so many more (seriously I could go on forever)! My favourite actresses would have to be Horikita Maki, Inoue Mao and Eikura Nana.

    5. ONE OK ROCK, mostly. I also like Bahashishi, some Yamashita Tomohisa, NewS (because they’re seriously interesting/entertaining people)… I really like the song Utada Hikaru did for the movie “Ashita no Joe” too.

    6. I’ve picked up on quite a few words. Enough to carry on a pitiful conversation. “Tadaima”, “okaeri” and stuff like that. I also know “hajimemashite”, “ohayo gozaimasu”, “konnichiwa”, “konbanwa”, “Rasetto Ashurii desu”, “namae wa?” to name a few. I have a feeling my pitiful knowledge would come off as rude, so I need to study harder.

    7. Well there’s the obvious Tokyo and Kyoto. I’m really interested in Chiba city, which a lot of people here assume is Tokyo when they see a picture.

    8. As for other things, I’m very interested in history/art history so I know a bit about that stuff. I have a couple of day planners that are filled with Edo era wood block paintings. One is all Hokusai and I can’t think of the other at the moment. I also know way too much about Johnny’s Entertainment and Amuse haha. I don’t think I’ve reached total fangirl status, though. I know more, but as I said I could go on forever!


    • tokyo5 November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      >>(What famous Japanese people do you know?)
      >Way too many to list!

      Where did you learn about them?

      >>(Japanese characters?)
      >Doraemon…Digimon… Inu Yasha…Studio Ghibli films..Full Metal Alchemist

      Do they show Doraemon in Canada?
      (You are from Canada, right? I looked at your blog.)

      >>(How about Japanese food / dishes?)
      >Curry rice..udon soup, yaki udon, yakisoba…ramen

      I eat all of those things…because I live in Japan. But I had never even heard of them before I came here.
      How do you know about those? Are they easy to find where you live?

      Japanese curry, English curry, Thai curry, Indian curry, etc are all different. Do you like other countries’ curries?
      I like them all.

      >>(Actors / actresses?)
      >>(Bands / musicians?)

      You also know many Japanese celebrities.
      Do you watch Japanese movies? Listen to Japanese CDs?

      >>(How about Japanese words?)
      >“Tadaima”, “okaeri” “hajimemashite”, “ohayo gozaimasu”, “konnichiwa”, “konbanwa”, “Rasetto Ashurii desu”, “namae wa?”

      Where did you learn those?
      (Some of those are a bit too casual as you wrote them. Did you pick them up from Japanese anime (which often has characters who don’t speak proper polite Japanese)?

      >>(Japanese cities?)
      > I’m really interested in Chiba

      Really? Why? It’s not internationally famous like Tokyo.
      In fact, since it’s close to Tokyo and much less congested…both “Tokyo Disneyland” and “Tokyo Int’l Airport (Narita)” are there but have “Tokyo” in their name because outside of Japan most people don’t know “Chiba”.

      >>(Or any other things you know about Japan?)
      >wood block paintings. One is all Hokusai

      Do you like ukiyo-e?
      I wrote about it:


      • Ashley Løseth December 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

        I learn everything about the Japanese entertainment world through the internet. If I’m curious about an actor/show/movie I look it up and almost always find something.

        I’m not actually sure if they show Doraemon here (yes, I’m from Canada), but he’s probably the most talked about character among the actors that I know of (especially Yamashita Tomohisa)

        All the dishes I mentioned are fairly easy to find here, whether it’s in a restaurant or a supermarket. The nice thing about Japanese restaurants here is that the food is pretty authentic — as opposed to Chinese food, which usually isn’t. We have a pretty large Asian population in Canada, so there’s a lot available to us (mostly in the west though).

        I have tried a couple types of Indian curry, but I don’t think it was very authentic (i.e. one was on a pizza…) I liked it, but I prefer Japanese style.

        I watch a lot of Japanese movies and shows, I prefer them over most cable shows we have now. It basically started when I found out there would be a live action of BECK. I do listen to Japanese cd’s too — though my sister is the one who usually orders them.

        I picked up some phrases from live action shows, but I always look things up and/or ask my sister (who took Japanese in school and is now learning on her own with RocketJapanese). I do know more than that; even some sentences. I also know variations of words or phrases; from formal all the way down to slang. I’ve actually noticed that in quite a few movies/dramas the characters will point out when someone is speaking formally or poorly as well.

        Honestly Chiba’s upside-down monorail was the first thing to catch my eye. I’m afraid of almost everything, but that train is on my to-do list! Other than that, I’m not really sure why I’m so interested. If and when I do get to Japan, I’ll most likely end up in Kyoto, though.

        Yes, I love it! “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” is my favourite! My family recently went to a restaurant called Izumi, where they had prints all over the place. It was equivalent to a gallery experience for me.


      • tokyo5 December 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

        >I learn everything about the Japanese entertainment world through the internet.

        I see.
        There was no internet when I came to Japan … I had no idea what to expect when I first came here.

        >Doraemon…the most talked about character among the actors that I know of

        Yes, Doraemon is very well-known in Japan … but I was surprised someone outside of Japan would know about him.

        >We have a pretty large Asian population in Canada, so there’s a lot (of Japanese food) available

        Where I grew up in the south-eastern U.S., it was quite different.

        >I watch a lot of Japanese movies and shows

        In Japanese?
        I like TV … what are some Japanese TV shows you watch?

        >If and when I do get to Japan, I’ll most likely end up in Kyoto

        Kyoto is wonderful … but so is Tokyo!


      • Ashley Løseth December 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

        “I was surprised someone outside of Japan would know about him [Doraemon]”
        You must not have come across many fangirls/boys then! There are a lot around the world. Again, it’s because of the internet making it easy.

        “what are some Japanese TV shows you watch?”
        My favourite is actually “Sekai no Hate Made ItteQ!”, but I don’t get to see it often. I’m also waiting for “Monsters” to finish so I can watch it. I really like dramas, even the ridiculous ones. It’s really hard to choose favourites, because I’ve seen so many.

        “Kyoto is wonderful … but so is Tokyo!”
        I don’t doubt it! It’s definitely “someday” list. Specifically Christmas in Tokyo. That I would love to see!


      • tokyo5 December 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

        >You must not have come across many fangirls/boys then!

        No. Can’t say I have.

        >the internet making it easy.

        I’ve never used the internet outside of Japan. I came here before there was such a thing.


        That’s one of my favorite shows! I watched it just yesterday.
        But…I can’t believe it’s known outside of Japan!

        Read this post:
        ( https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/my-favorite-tv-shows/ )

        >Christmas in Tokyo…I would love to see!

        You should. The X-mas illuminations (lights) are spectacular!


  5. Metal Odyssey November 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I learn about countries and their cultures by researching the many bands I write/review about. Anything I learn about Japan (in recent years) I’ve learned “on the go” by catching news articles on the internet, the History Channel and of course… Tokyo5!

    Honestly, the cultural info you give to your readers here (regarding Japan) is absolutely fabulous. 🙂

    One very cool Japanese Metal musician I’ve corresponded with is Masaki Murashita of Hemoptysis. He’s on top of his game both musically and on the business side of leading a professional band.
    Here’s his site link: masakimurashita.com

    Loudness… ROCKS! \m/\m/


    • tokyo5 November 28, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      >the cultural info you give to your readers here (regarding Japan) is absolutely fabulous.


      >One very cool Japanese Metal musician I’ve corresponded with is Masaki Murashita of Hemoptysis

      I saw your interview with him.

      >Loudness… ROCKS!

      Yeah. I’ve seen them in concert both in Florida and in Tokyo.


  6. amberinjp November 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    After about 8 months here, I’ve been learning little by little… Here’s some of the quickest things I picked up on:
    Food I’ve learned about: takoyaki & okonomiyaki! 🙂 And natto 😛
    I heard about an actress or comedian who does a Beyonce impression but I couldn’t tell you the name!
    Bands/ music: Blue Hearts, Sakanaction, & Yusari ! And SMAP
    Words: oishii (tasty), Tanoshi (fun), jozu (skillfull) and gomenasai (I’m sorry!!)
    Unfortunately, most pop culture I learn about at the dentist though; in the waiting room or the DR. telling me about the movie playing while I’m in the chair!!


    • tokyo5 November 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      > After about 8 months here

      Did you come to Japan this past January?
      How long will you stay?

      >takoyaki & okonomiyaki!

      They’re both great! But have you ever tried Tokyo’s famous dish: “Monja-yaki”?

      >And natto

      Do you like natto?
      I recommend it with rice and kimchi! Very good!

      >comedian who does a Beyonce impression

      That’s Naomi Watanabe.


      I can remember when they debuted. They were young…

      >Words: oishii (tasty),Tanoshi (fun), jozu (skillfull) and gomenasai (I’m sorry!!)

      Useful words.
      Do you know how to say the opposite of each?

      >most pop culture I learn about at the dentist

      Do you visit the dentist often?


      • amberinjp November 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

        I got to Japan in April & will be here at least a 2nd year… hopefully longer – I love being here! 😀
        What is Monjayaki??? I’m not sure if I’ve tried it or not, but I’m interested!
        Natto… well, it’s not my favorite!
        What’s your favorite food!?
        I was told it’s super rude to say not-tasty… but I usually just add -kunai or -janai at the end of the word… except gomenasai – not sure?
        I don’t have a TV, so I always watch exciting shows in the waiting room and unfortunately, I have been to the dentist 3 times already (and 4 is next week!). But fortunately with the national insurance, it’s much cheaper than it would be in the US!


      • tokyo5 November 29, 2012 at 8:50 am #

        >I love being here!

        Me, too.

        >What is Monjayaki???

        I guess you could call it “Tokyo’s version of Okonomiyaki”.
        Okonomiyaki is from the Kansai (western) area of Japan…Monjayaki (or simply “Monja”) is from Tokyo.

        In other parts of Japan, Monja isn’t easy to find…but in Tokyo, every restaurant that serves Okonomiyaki will also serve Monjayaki.
        People in Tokyo usually eat both when they go to those restaurants.

        >Natto… well, it’s not my favorite!

        Do you like Kimuchi?
        Try them together. “Japan meets Korea”. 😉
        I recommend it.

        >What’s your favorite food!?

        Favorite “Japanese” food? Or type of cuisine?
        I like almost everything. I enjoy eating a variety.
        If you want to know a Japanese dish I like that many foreigners don’t try (besides the aforementioned “natto”)…I like 「ネギトロ丼」 (“Negi-toro-don“).

        >I was told it’s super rude to say not-tasty…

        Well, of course it’s impolite to insult other people’s cooking.
        But to say you don’t like a particular food (that hasn’t been served to you) isn’t.

        >I usually just add -kunai or -janai at the end of the word…

        Yes, for many adjectives, adding “not —” to it is a simple way to say the opposite.
        I meant, to increase your Japanese vocabulary, when you learn a word, try to learn it’s opposite too.

        >except gomenasai – not sure?

        Oh sorry…mistyped that earlier comment. “I’m sorry” doesn’t have an opposite.


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