Japanmay be a small country but its film industry has given some of the best actors and actresses over the years. After writing abouttop ten Japanese actors, I bring you Top Ten Japanese actresses. Many of these actresses are not only famous inJapanbut also in Western countries as well. Their talented acting inspired movie makers around the world. Many Japanese actresses worked in majorHollywoodmovies and became famous in theUSA.
Masami Nagasawa: Born onJune 31987, at Iwata inShizuoka, Masami Nagasawais a Japanese actress working for Toho Entertainment. Her father,Kazuaki Nagasawais the former manager of the J. League team, Júbilo Iwata.Masami Nagasawaentered into the entertainment industry through winning a beauty contest at the age of 12. In 2000, Masami Nagasawa auditioned in the 5thToho “Cinderella Contest.” She became the youngest winner to win that contest out of total 35,153 individuals. That same year, Masami Nagasawa made her debut in a movie titled,Crossfire.Instead of pursuing a career in acting, she became a professional model for the popular Japanese teen magazine, “Peach Lemon.” As a model, she became very popular after appearing in the Nabisco CM in 2002. This earned her the title of “The Pretty Gril from the Nabisco CM.” In 2003, she landed with her first lead role in a movie titledRobokon.In this movie, she played the character of high school girl who reluctantly joins the National Robot Contest for High School Students. For her performance inRobokon,Masami Nagasawa received the Best New Comer Award in the 27thJapanese Academy Awards. Her other major movies include:
Ashura no Gotoku
Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World
Shinkokyu no Hitsuyou
Godzilla: Final Wars
Kyoko Fukada: Born onNovember 2 1982, Kyoko Fukada is an actress, model and singer. As an actress, she first appeared in 1997 in an NTV drama titledFive.The name of her character was Yodobashi Sanae/Kanae. That same year, she appeared in another television drama,Sore Ga Kotae Da!inFujiTV. InSore Ga Kotae Da!, the name of her character was Mizuno Kazune. For the next two years, Kyoko Fukada appeared in several television dramas and established herself as an actress. Between 1997 and 1999, she appeared in the following television dramas:Tengoku no Kiss, To Heart, Oni no Sumika, Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake, and News no Onna. In1999, Kyoko Fukada made her debut in a movie titledRing 2. Ring 2was a horror movie. InRing 2, Kyoko Fukada played the character of Kanae Sawaguchi. That same year, she also appeared in another movie titledDollswhich released in 2002.InDolls,Kyoko Fukada played the character of Haruna, a famous pop-star, who became disfigured in a car accident. A talented JPop singer, Kyoko Fukada made her first single “The Last Fruit” in 1999. She also released her first album “Dear” in that same year. To Japanese people, Kyoko Fukada is also known as Fukakyon. Kyoko Fukada enjoysswimmingand red and blue are her favorite colors
movies to her credits but Rinko Kikuchi is among those fortunate actresses who got to work with some ofJapan’s top movie directors at a very young age. Rinko Kikuchi made her debut in 1999 in a movie titledIkitai. It was directed by famous Japanese director, Kaneto Shindo. In 2001, Rinko Kikuchi appeared inKazuyoshi Komuri’scritically acclaimed movie,Sora no Anawhich was screened in the famous Rotterdam Film Festival. In 2004, Rinko Kikuchi appeared inCha no Aji,a film directed by famous director Katsuhito Ishii. The movie was also selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Her big break came in 2006 inBabel.Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, in the movie, Rinko Kikuchi played the character of a deaf-mute teenage girl named Chieko Wataya. For her performance in the movie, she received numerous awards and nominations including nomination for the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress. Rinko Kikuchi is one of eight Asian actors to receive a nomination for Academy Awards in acting category. She is also one of the five actresses to receive Academy Awards nomination for playing a speechless character. Born onJanuary 6 1981, Rinko Kikuchi currently lives in centralTokyowith her boy-friend actorFederico Aletta. Rinko is a skilled sword-fighter, an accomplished motorcyclist and horseback rider.
Ryoko Hirosue:Born on July
181980, inKochiPrefecture, Ryoko Hirosue started her career at the age of fourteen by winning the “P&G” model competition. In the next year, Ryoko Hirosue made her first television appearance as a singer in a program named 18,TK Music Camp. In 1995, Ryoko Hirosue made her debut as an actress in Fuji Television’s drama titled,Heart ni S.Since then,Ryoko Hirosueworked in numerous television dramas and movies. In 1997, Hirsoue Ryoko debuted as a pop singer. That same year, she recorded a commercial for Asahi Soft Drinks and after one month, she took glasses. The actress appeared in Mitsuya commercial with her glasses. This talented actress, model and singer went toWasedaUniversityin 1999 and studied for four years but did not graduate. In 2004, Ryoko Hirosue was married to Takahiro Okazawa, an accomplished model and designer. In the end of 2003, she announced her pregnancy. Because of child birth, Hirosue could not work for one and half-year. Rumor of their divorce spread out in 2006 whenOkazawa and Ryoko Hirosuestarted to live separately. In March 2008, the couple got divorced. According to the latest news, Ryoko Hirosue got custody of her three year old son. Okazawa will not pay any alimony for the child.
Keiko Kitagawa: This innocent looking girl is an established model, actress and a commercial science major atMeijiUniversityinTokyo. Keiko Kitagawa had no intention of entering into the entertainment world. She wanted to become a doctor. By the time she reached high school, she was not sure about her future career. At that time, a talent agency approached her. Initially, her parents did not agree but then they gave her permission. In2003, Keiko Kitagawa was chosen as Miss Seventeen 2003 and started her career as a model for the popular Japanese teen magazineSeventeen. She worked there from late 2003 to mid 2006 and stopped modeling upon leaving the magazine. That same year, she started her acting career in the live action television series,Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.Keiko Kitagawa played the character of Rei Hino in that series. After Sailor Moon, Keiko Kitagawa worked in bothHollywoodand Japanese movies. Her majorHollywoodmovie includes, The Fast and The Furious sequel,The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Born onAugust 22, 1986inHyogoPrefecture, Keiko Kitagawa is a fortunate survivor of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. She lost many of her friends in that earthquake. When she was young she was hit by a car and had to stay in the hospital for a long time. A stay-at-home person, Keiko Kitagawa enjoys watching DVD, listening to music and reading books. She also likes swimming. She has a pet cat named Jill.
Miho Nakayama: The most interesting thing about Miho Nakayama is that unlike other actors and actresses she started her career as a singer. She was an established J-Pop singer. Miho Nakayama was one of the few Adirou (pop idols) of the 80s. From singing, she switched to acting. Born onMarch 1, 1970,at Koganei,Tokyo, Miho Nakayama is the elder sister of famous J-Pop singerShinobu Nakayama. She started her J-Pop singing career on21 June, 1985, at the age of 15 with the single C. That same year, she appeared in a teen movie,Be-bop High School. In the next five years, Miho Nakayama released 17 music albums. Later in the 90s, she started to write her own songs and tried other music genres such as Jazz and Latin music. At this time, Miho Nakayama released another 23 albums. Miho Nakayamaalso starred in a video game titled Nakayama Miho noTokimekiHigh School. In this game, her character was a high school student who is trying to mask her true identity. As an actress, she got her big break in 1995. She played dual roles of Hiroko Watanabe and Itsuki Fujii in the movieLove Letter.Directed by Shunji Iwai, the movie was a huge commercial success and won her numerous awards including the prestigious Blue Ribbon Awards.
Meiko Kaji:Have you seen Quentin Tarantino’s Kill
Bill(Vol 1&2)? It is a movie about a lady who takes revenge upon some people who once harmed her. Famous Japanese actress, Meiko Kaji was the first women to introduce and popularize this character. Originally named Masako Ota, Meiko Kaji was born inTokyoonMarch 24 1947. In the mid sixties, Meiko joined Nikkatsu Studio, the oldest and most prominent Japanese Movie studio which was established in 1912. During this time, she worked in minor roles. In Nikkatsu, her major work wasAlleycat Rock, a five part movie series about a group of female delinquents. In the 70s, Nikkatsu went into producingsoft romantic porno moviesbut Meiko Kaji did not want any part of that and joined Toei Studio, the rival of Nikkatsu in 1972. This was the most prominent time in Meiko Kaji’s career. Along withdirector, Shunya Ito, Meiko Kaji made fourFemale Prisoner Scorpionseries movies. In this movie, she played the character of Nami Matsushima, aka Sasori, akaMatsuthe Scorpion, a female prisoner who was unfairly humiliated, tortured by prison officials and then she goes on and takes revenge by killing them. This character made Meiko Kaji immensely popular inJapan.
Nanako Matsushima: Nanako Matsushima is an established Japanese model and actress. She started hercareer as a model. Born onOctober 13, 1973, Nanako Matsushima is well known both inJapanand in the Western countries for her role in the hit horror movieRing,but Nanako Matsushima is mainly famous for her roles in television dramas. One interesting thing about her modeling career is, unlike other models who start as a ‘campaign girl’ or swimwear poster girl,18 year oldNanako Matsushima modeled for a pharmaceutical company, Asahi Kasei. For the next couple of years she struggled as a model. Her luck changed after she landed with the lead role in the 1996 NHK morning dramaHimawari (Sunflower). Thedrama was very successfuland Nanako’s luck changed forever. That same year, she worked inRing.The movie became popular in bothJapanand theUSA. Nanako also played the main character in the 1997 drama,A Story of Love.In this drama series, she worked with Hiroyuki Sanada, who also worked with her inRing.After her performance in the 1998 popular Fuji TV drama series,Great Teacher Onizuka, Nanako Matsushima became the highest paid actress inJapan. After this drama series, all the drama series she appeared in were very successful. OnFebruary 21, 2001, Nanako Matsushima married Takashi Sorimachi, her co-star inGreat Teacher Onizuka.
Miyazawa Rie:Actress, model and singer Miyazawa Rie was
the 80s darling of Japanese media. Born onApril 6,1973, she was raised by a single mother who was very ambitious. Her father was a Dutch whom she did not know. At the age of eleven, Miyazawa made her first appearance in an advertisement for Kit Kat. From the early age, Miyazawa Rie got media attention for her exceptional beauty. At the age of 12, she became a ‘Bishojo,’ young adolescent beautiful girl that were used to promote products. She appeared in numerous television commercials even with famousHollywoodactor Arnold Schwarzenegger.Miyazawa Riebecame one of the most popular faces on Japanese television. By the time, she was 18, she was earning 400 million yen per year from product endorsements. Her mother set up her own agency to control her daughter’s career. In 1988, Miyazawa Rie made her movie debut inBokura no Nanokakan Senso(Our Seven Days War). For her performance, she received the Japanese Academy Award for Best Newcomer the next year. For the next couple of years, she remained very successful in both television and movies. In 1991, she made a huge splash in the Japanese media with the publication of her nude photo bookSanta Fe. The book sold over 1.5 million copies in 3 months and started a whole new trend.
Born onJune 28,1971, Norika Fujiwara is a Japanese beauty queen, model and actress. She won the Miss Japan beauty contest in 1992. Fujiwara Norika started as a model while studying in the high school and continued modelingthrough her university years. After winning the Miss Japan contest, she went toTokyo. In the 90sJapan, Fujiwara Norika dominated both the print and the electronic media. Not a day would go by that Japanese people would see her face on themagazines and in television commercials. Her most famous advertisement was for the J-Phone company but there are numerous products that saw huge boost in sales after being endorsed by Fujiwara Norika. Because of her good looks, she also appeared in many television dramas with popular actors like Takahashi Katsunori and Inagaki Goro. Her most successful television dramas includeOkuman-choja, Kekon Suru Hoho (How to Marry a Millionaire),anNaomi. In 2000, Fujiwara Norika worked in aHong Kongaction movieChina Strike Force. In 2002, Fujiwara Norika worked as the main character in a video game titled Project Minerva (PS2). She played the central character of the game Alicia. In 2001, Fujiwara Norika gave her voice as Princess Fiona in the hit animated movieShrek. She also worked in the sequel of the movie,Shrek 2in 2004.