Watchworthy

Famous Film Directors from Japan

Reference
Updated October 13, 2018 17.7k views 727 items

List of famous film directors from Japan, listed alphabetically with photos when available. Japan has given birth to some great movie directors over the years, many of who have gone on to direct popular comedies, dramas, horror movies and more. These are some of the best Japanese directors in the history of the world, so if you're a native of Japan and an aspiring director then these are people you should look up to.

Items include everything from Tomoharu Katsumata to Morio Asaka.

This list answers the questions, "Who are the best Japanese directors?" and "Which directors are from Japan?"

You can click on the names of these legendary directors of Japan in order to get more information about each one. If you're a film buff use this list of talented Japanese directors to find some new movies you haven't already seen.
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
1
Aki Mizusawa is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Aki Mizusawa Age: 65

Birthplace: Japan, Meguro

Nationality: Japan

Aki Mizusawa is an actress.
2
Akihiko Shiota is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 58

Birthplace: East Asia, Kansai region, Honshu, Maizuru, Asia, + more

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Harmful Insect, Yomigaeri, Moonlight Whispers, Kanaria, Don't Look Back, + more

Akihiko Shiota (塩田 明彦, Shiota Akihiko) (born 11 September 1961, Maizuru, Kyoto) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter.
3
Akihiko Yamashita is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Akihiko Yamashita Age: 53

Birthplace: Okayama Prefecture, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: A Sumo Wrestler's Tail

Akihiko Yamashita is a Studio Ghibli animator who is famous for Howl's Moving Castle and Giant Robo.
4
Akihiro Kitamura is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 40

Birthplace: Japan, Kochi

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: I'll Be There with You

Akihiro Kitamura (北村 昭博, Kitamura Akihiro, born March 26, 1979) is a Japanese actor and director, who appeared in The Human Centipede (First Sequence).
5
Akihito Izuhara is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 55

Birthplace: Chūbu region, East Asia, Honshu, Gifu Prefecture, Asia, + more

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: LI.LI.TA.AL.

Akihito Izuhara is a film director and producer.
6
Akio Jissoji is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Dec. at 69 (1937-2006)

Birthplace: East Asia, Tokyo, Asia, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Ultraman, Mujo, Marquis De Sade's Prosperities of Vice, Rampo Noir, Ultra Q The Movie: Legend of the Stars, + more

7
Akio Watanabe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 50

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Hoshizora Kiseki, Netrun-mon

Akio Watanabe (渡辺明夫, Watanabe Akio, born July 13, 1969) is a Japanese animator, character designer and animation director currently living in Tokyo, Japan. He often goes by the pseudonym Poyoyon ...more
8
Akio Yoshida is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Akio Yoshida Age: 68

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Tales of Terror: Haunted Apartment

Akio Yoshida is a Television director and the husband of Noriko Ogawa.
9
Akira Emoto is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 71

Birthplace: Japan, Chūō

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Sora ga konnani aoi wake ga nai

Akira Emoto (柄本 明, Emoto Akira, born 3 November 1948 in Chūō, Tokyo) is a Japanese actor.
10
Akira Inoue is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Akira Inoue Age: 91

Birthplace: East Asia, Kansai region, Honshu, Asia, Japan, + more

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Kozure Ôkami: Sono chîsaki te ni

Akira Inoue is a film director.
11
Akira Kobayashi is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 81

Birthplace: Japan, Setagaya

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Marronnier

Akira Kobayashi (Japanese: 小林 旭, Hepburn: Kobayashi Akira, born November 3, 1938) is a Japanese actor and singer. His nickname is Maito Gai (マイトガイ, "mighty guy").
12
Ann Hui is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 72

Birthplace: China, Eurasia, Anshan, Liaoning

Nationality: China

Films Directed: Summer Snow, All About Love, Below the Lion Rock: The Bridge, July Rhapsody, Ordinary Heroes, + more

Ann Hui On-wah, MBE, BBS, (traditional Chinese: 許鞍華; simplified Chinese: 许鞍华; pinyin: Xǔ Ānhuá; Hepburn: Kyo Anka; born 23 May 1947) is a Hong Kong film director, producer, screenwriter ...more
13
Akira Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Dec. at 88 (1910-1998)

Birthplace: Shinagawa, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: High and Low, Gendai no Noh, Dreams, Rashomon, Hakuchi, + more

Akira Kurosawa (Kyūjitai: 黒澤 明, Shinjitai: 黒沢 明 Kurosawa Akira; March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, who directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 ...more

More Akira Kurosawa 

#597 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #935 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #271 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

14
Akira Nishimori is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Akira Nishimori Age: 58

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: A.D. Police File 2: The Ripper, A.D. Police File 3: The Man Who Bites His Tongue

Akira Nishimori (西森 章, Nishimori Akira) is a Japanese anime director, known for directing series such as Rumic Theater, Gallery Fake, Petopeto-san, Hitohira, Zombie-Loan, and three Battle ...more
15
Akira Ogata is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Akira Ogata Age: 60

Birthplace: Saga Prefecture, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Boy's Choir, Itsuka dokusho suruhi, Nonchan Noriben

Akira Ogata (緒方明) is a Japanese film director. He was given the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award for his debut film, Boy's Choir, in 2000, and then won the award for best director at ...more
16
Akira Toriyama is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 64

Birthplace: Nagoya, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: A Lonesome, Final Battle: The Father of Z-Warrior Son Gokū, who Challenged Freeza

Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明, Toriyama Akira, born April 5, 1955) is a Japanese manga artist, game artist and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for his highly successful manga ...more
17
Akitaro Daichi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 63

Birthplace: Gunma, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Elf Princess Rane, Grrl Power, Animation Runner Kuromi

Akitaro Daichi (大地 丙太郎, Daichi Akitarō, born January 13, 1956) is an anime director, producer, and photography director.
18
Akiyuki Shinbo is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 58

Birthplace: Kori, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Debutante Detective Corps, Twilight of the Dark Master, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part II: The Eternal Story, Triangle Heart ~Sweet Songs Forever~ (Part 3), Triangle Heart ~Sweet Songs Forever~ (Part 1), + more

Akiyuki Shinbo (Japanese: 新房 昭之, Hepburn: Shinbō Akiyuki, born September 27, 1961) is a Japanese animator, director, producer and storyboard artist who started his career in 1981 at Studio One ...more
19
Alala Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Alala Kurosawa

Birthplace: Eurasia, East Asia, Asia, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Digital Channel DC71, Dream Woman Vol.73, DIGITAL CHANNEL DC77

20
Amica Kubo is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Amica Kubo Age: 36

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: World Wildlife Fund '100% Renewable Energy

Amica Kubo is a film director.
21
Asumi Matsumura is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Asumi Matsumura

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Petite Princess Yucie

Asumi Matsumura is a TV director.
22
Atsuji Shimizu is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Atsuji Shimizu

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: One Piece: The Movie, One Piece: Clockwork Island Adventure, One Piece: Chopper's Kingdom on the Island of Strange Animals, One Piece: Episode of Chopper: Bloom in the Winter, Miracle Sakura

Junji Shimizu is a film director.
23
Atsuko Ishizuka is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 38

Birthplace: Okazaki, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Tsuki no Waltz

Atsuko Ishizuka (いしづか あつこ, Ishizuka Atsuko, born September 3, 1981) is a Japanese animator and director. She began her animation career after joining Madhouse in 2004.
24
Atsuo Okunaka is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Atsuo Okunaka Dec. at 82 (1930-2012)

Birthplace: East Asia, Kansai region, Honshu, Nara, Nara Prefecture, + more

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Saru No Gundan

Atsuo Okunaka was a film and television director.
25
Atsuro Watabe is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Film Directors from Japan
Age: 51

Birthplace: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Nationality: Japan

Films Directed: Echo of Silence

Atsuro Watabe is a Japanese actor.