Famous Poets from Japan

List of notable or famous poets from Japan, with bios and photos, including the top poets born in Japan and even some popular poets who immigrated to Japan. If you're trying to find out the names of famous Japanese poets then this list is the perfect resource for you. These poets are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known poet from Japan is included when available.

Kobayashi Issa and Yukio Mishima are included on this list.

This historic poets from Japan list can help answer the questions "Who are some Japanese poets of note?" and "Who are the most famous poets from Japan?" These prominent poets of Japan may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected Japanese poets.

Use this list of renowned Japanese poets to discover some new poets that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page.

  • Basho
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694), born 松尾 金作, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房), was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku (then called hokku). Matsuo Bashō's poetry is internationally renowned; and, in Japan, many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. Although Bashō is justifiably famous in the West for his hokku, he himself believed his best work lay in leading and participating in renku. He is quoted as saying, "Many of my followers can write hokku as well as I can. Where I show who I really am is in linking haikai verses."Bashō was introduced to poetry at a young age, and after integrating himself into the intellectual scene of Edo (modern Tokyo) he quickly became well known throughout Japan. He made a living as a teacher; but then renounced the social, urban life of the literary circles and was inclined to wander throughout the country, heading west, east, and far into the northern wilderness to gain inspiration for his writing. His poems were influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him, often encapsulating the feeling of a scene in a few simple elements.
    • Age: Dec. at 50 (1644-1694)
    • Birthplace: Ueno, Mie
  • Eriko Kishida was a poet and a writer of children's story.
    • Age: Dec. at 82 (1929-2011)
    • Birthplace: Suginami, Japan
  • Gakuto Oshiro (大城 ガクト, Ōshiro Gakuto, born July 4, 1973), better known by his mononymous stage name Gackt, is a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. Born in Okinawa, Japan to a Ryukyuan family, Gackt learned the piano at a young age and was raised on classical music and enka before becoming interested in rock music while attending high school. He has been active since 1993, first as the frontman of the short-lived independent band Cains:Feel, and then for the now defunct visual kei rock band Malice Mizer, before starting his solo career in 1999. He has released nine studio albums and, with forty-eight singles released, holds the male soloist record for most top ten consecutive singles in Japanese music history. His single "Returner (Yami no Shūen)", released on June 20, 2007, was his first and only single to reach the number one spot on the Oricon charts. As a solo artist, Gackt has sold over 10 million records.Besides being established in the modern entertainment industry, Gackt's music has been used as theme songs for video games (for example Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII), anime films (e.g. New Fist of the North Star and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam) and television series. In addition to his music career Gackt has acted in a few films, including a film he wrote, Moon Child, and his international debut Bunraku, and TV series such as the NHK drama Fūrin Kazan. He also performed live in theatre stage plays, one of which was written, composed and directed by him: Moon Saga - Mysteries of Yoshitsune I&II. He has performed classical arrangements of his songs twice with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. He also provided the voice samples for Internet Co., Ltd.'s first Vocaloid, Gackpoid.
    • Age: 50
    • Birthplace: Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
  • Ihara Saikaku (井原 西鶴, 1642 – September 9, 1693) was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose (ukiyo-zōshi). Born as Hirayama Tōgo (平山藤五), the son of a wealthy merchant in Osaka, he first studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku and later studied under Nishiyama Sōin of the Danrin school of poetry, which emphasized comic linked verse. Scholars have described numerous extraordinary feats of solo haikai composition at one sitting; most famously, over the course of a single day and night in 1677, Saikaku is reported to have composed at least 16,000 haikai stanzas, with some sources placing the number at over 23,500 stanzas.Later in life he began writing racy accounts of the financial and amorous affairs of the merchant class and the demimonde. These stories catered to the whims of the newly prominent merchant class, whose tastes of entertainment leaned toward the arts and pleasure districts.
    • Age: Dec. at 51 (1642-1693)
    • Birthplace: Namba, Japan
  • Katsue Kitasono
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Katué Kitasono (北園 克衛, Kitazono Katsue, October 29, 1902–June 6, 1978) was a renowned Japanese poet and photographer. He was born in the city of Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan.
    • Age: Dec. at 76 (1902-1978)
    • Birthplace: Ise, Japan
  • Yasutaro Soga was a Hawaiian Issei journalist, poet and activist. He was a community leader among Japanese Hawaiians, serving as chief editor of the Nippu Jiji, then the largest Japanese-language newspaper in Hawaii and the mainland United States, and organizing efforts to foster positive Japan-U.S. relations and address discriminatory legislation, labor rights and other issues facing Japanese Americans. An accomplished news writer and tanka poet before the war, during his time in camp Soga authored one of the earliest memoirs of the wartime detention of Japanese Americans, Tessaku Seikatsu or Life Behind Barbed Wire.
    • Age: Dec. at 83 (1873-1957)
    • Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan