The Most Popular Japanese Actresses Under 20, Over 40, and in Between

With how old the theatre and performing arts of Japan is, it is not surprising that the country houses countless actresses, some of which have been recognized on a global scale. Be it teenagers or those in their 40s, Japan’s versatile talents undeniably excel well beyond what is expected of them.

List of Top 5 Japanese Actresses Under 20

Ririka Kawashima (15)

Ririka Kawashima started her career at the age of ten and has continued to pique the interest of the Japanese community with her exceptional skills and charm.

Place and Date of Birth: Tochigi, Japan; March 17, 2002

Movies: Andalucia: Revenge of the Goddess (2011), Kochikame The Movie: Save The Kachidiki Bridge! (2011), Real (2013), Bokyo (2017)

Rikako Yagi (16)

Rikako Yagi is a fresh face in the acting industry. She made her debut in 2016 by appearing in four episodes of the tv series, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.

Place and Date of Birth: Shiga, Japan; July 7, 2001

Series: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2016)

Karen Otomo (17)

Karen Otomo first appeared on the screen during the year 2012 when she starred in the drama series, “My Little Nightmare”. Since then, she has taken a consistent pace in building her career by taking new tv series and movie projects at least once a year.

Place and Date of Birth: Gunma, Japan; October 9, 1999

Movies: My Little Nightmare: The Movie (2014), Katashi to Racket (2015), The Bride of Rip Van Winkle (2016), Gold Medal Man, (2016), Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai (2017)

Yuna Taira (18)

Yuna Taira is the younger sister of the popular actress Airi Taira. Since 2011, Yuna has been proving her talent as an actress by playing diverse characters in movies and drama series.

Place and Date of Birth: Hyogo, Japan; November 12, 1998

Movies: I Wish (2011), Sadako 3D (2012), Pale Moon (2014), Yell For The Blue Sky (2016), Ankoku Joshi (2017), Mumon: The Land of Stealth (2017)

Suzu Hirose (19)

Suzu Hirose is among the up-and-coming actresses of Japan that do not disappoint when it comes to portraying characters of different personalities. She is set to star in at least five movies for 2017 and 2018.

Place and Date of Birth: Shizuoka, Japan; June 19, 1998

Movies: Our Little Sister (2015), The Boy And The Beast (2015), Chihayafuru Part I (2016), Chihayafuru Part II (2016), Rage (2016), Your Lie In April (2016), The Third Murder (2017), My Teacher (2017)

List of Top 5 Japanese Actresses Under 30

Maki Horikita (28)

By Toshi K ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Maki Horikita is known for her roles that revolve around school life, given her young and innocent look. She has also proven her skill as an actress by playing more dynamic roles in several movie projects.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; October 6, 1988

Movies: Premonition (2004), Crying Out Love in the Center of the World (2004), The Locker (2005), Hinokio (2005), Always: Sunset on Third Street (2005), One Missed Call: Final (2006), Always: Sunset on Third Street 2 (2007), For You in Full Blossom - Ikemen Paradise (2007), Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009), Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2010), Into The White Night (2010), The Lady Shogun and Her Men (2010), Korede iinoda! Eiga Akatsuka Fujio (2011), Always Sanchōme no Yūhi '64 (2012), My Little Sweet Pea (2013), Ataru: the First Love & the Last Kill (2013), Kenchô omotenashi ka (2013), A Samurai Chronicle (2014)

Series: Nobuta wo Produce (2005), Densha Otoko (2005), Kurosagi (2006), Seito Shokun! (2007), Atsuhime (2008), Innocent Love (2008), Atashinchi no Danshi (2009), Wagaya no Rekishi (2010), Umechan Sensei (2012), Miss Pilot (2013), Masshiro (2015)

Yui Aragaki (29)

Yui Aragaki serves as an actress, singer, idol, and voice actress, while also sometimes hosting radio shows. In 2008, she won the 45th Golden Arrow Awards’ Film Prize.

Place and Date of Birth: Okinawa, Japan; June 11, 1988

Movies: My Boss My Hero (2006), Koi Suru Madori (2007) Sky of Love (2007), Cheer Cheer Cheer! (2008), Hanamizuki (2010), The Wings Of The Kirin (2011), Have A Song On Your Lips (2015), S The Last Policeman – Recovery Of Our Future (2015)

Series: Dragon Zakura (2005), Shibuya Fifteen (2005), Gal Circle (2006), Code Blue (2008 – 2009), Smile (2009), Full Throttle Girl (2011), Mou Yuukai Nante Shinai (2012), Legal High (2012 – 2013), Okitegami Kyōko no Bibōroku (2015)

Yuriko Yoshitaka (29)

ACROFAN [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Yuriko Yoshitaka made her debut as an actress during the year 2006. Soon after, the Japanese community easily fell in love with her undeniable beauty and talent.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; July 22, 1988

Movies: Noriko’s Dinner Table (2005), Adrift In Tokyo (2007), Cyborg She (2008), Snakes And Earrings (2008), Camellia (2010), The Detective Is In The Bar (2011), Himizu (2011), Gantz: Perfect Answer (2011), Robo-G (2012), We Were Here: Part I (2012), Midsummer’s Equation (2013), A Story Of Yonosuke (2013)

Erika Toda (29)

Erika Toda has been a part of the acting world for over ten years. Her talent is backed by a long list of movies and tv series, of which she has either played a main or supporting role.

Place and Date of Birth: Hyogo, Japan; August 17, 1988

Movies: Ten Nights of Dreams (2006), Death Note (2006), Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006), L: Change the World (2008), Tea Fight (2008), Amalfi: Rewards of the Goddess (2009), The Unbroken (2009), Chasing My Girl (2009), Goemon (2009), Liar Game: The Final Stage (2010), Dog × Police: The K-9 Force (2011), Andalucia: Revenge of the Goddess (2011), Hankyu Railways - A 15-minute Miracle (2011), SPEC: Heaven (2012), SPEC: Close (2013), Death Note: Light Up the New World (2016), Kakekomi (2015), April Fools (2015), Prophecy (2015), Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Series: Engine (2005), Nobuta no Produce (2005), Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (2006), Gal Circle (2006), Code Blue (2008 – 2009), Liar Game (2007 – 2010), Ryusei no Kizuna (2008), BOSS (2009 – 2011), Keizoku 2: SPEC (2010), You Taught Me All the Precious Things (2011), Kagi no Kakatta Heya (2012), Summer Nude (2013), The Clinic on the Sea (2013)

Nozomi Sasaki (29)

By Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Nozomi Sasaki used to be a television presented in Akita, Japan before pursuing a career in the acting and modeling industries. Today, she stands as one of Japan’s most dedicated and hardworking women.

Place and Date of Birth: Akita, Japan; February 8, 1988

Movies: My Rainy Days (2009), Afro Tanaka (2012), Ju-On: The Beginning of the End (2014), The Furthest End Awaits (2014), Ju-On: The Final Curse (2015), Enishi: the Bride of Izumo (2015), Lost and Found (2015), Desperate Sunflowers The Movie (2016), My Korean Teacher (2016)

Series: Kami no Shizuku (2009), Kaitō Royale (2011), TOKYO Airport: Air Traffic Controller (2012), The Weather Girl Knows (2013), The Last Cop (2015)

List of Top 5 Japanese Actresses Over 30

Aya Ueto (31)

Aya Ueto started her acting career at the early age of 13. Since then, she has appeared in numerous projects including movies, endorsements, and tv series.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; September 14, 1985

Movies: Azumi (2003), Azumi 2: Death or Love (2005), Thermae Romae (2012), Kurumaisu de boku wa sora wo tobu (2012), Oshin (2013), A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story (2013), Thermae Romae II (2014)

Series: Kinpachi-sensei (1979 – 2011), Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari (1990 – 2011), My Little Chef (2002), Hitonatsu no Papa e (2003), Yoshitsune (2005), Shimokita Sundays (2006), Hotelier (2007), Celeb to Binbo Taro (2008), Nagareboshi (2010), Zettai Reido (2010 – 2011), Hanzawa Naoki (2013), I'm Home (2015)

Reon Kadena (31)

Reon Kadena, who also goes by the name Minamo Kusano, started as a top news anchor and model during the earlier years of her career. Since 2006, she has gradually explored the different aspects of the acting world and proven her potential of being just another person with a pretty face.

Place and Date of Birth: Osaka, Japan; February 19, 1986

Movies: God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand (2006), Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider OOO & W Featuring Skull: Movie War Core (2010), The Pinkie (2014)

Keiko Kitagawa (31)

Keiko Kitagawa is an esteemed actress recognized across the globe. She initially worked as a model for various magazines before concentrating on her acting career in 2004.

Place and Date of Birth: Hyogo, Japan; August 22, 1986

Movies: The Mamiya Brothers (2006), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Dear Friends (2007), After the Flowers (2010), Matataki (2010), Paradise Kiss (2011), Magic Tree House (2011), The After-Dinner Mysteries (2013), Roommate (2013), Judge! (2014), I Just Wanna Hug You (2014), Akumu Chan the Movie (2014), The Pearls of the Stone Man (2015), Hero The Movie (2015), Something Like, Something Like It (2015)

Series: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003 – 2004), Mop Girl (2007), Buzzer Beat (2009), Tsuki no Koibito (2010), Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (2011), Dokushin Kizoku (2013)

Erika Sawajiri (31)

Erika Sawajiri made her debut in the television series, “Hotman’, in 2003. She became even more popular after starring in the drama, “1 Litre of Tears”, just two years after.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; April 8, 1986

Movies: Mondai no nai watashitachi (2004), Break Through! (2004), Ashurajō no Hitomi (2005), Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (2005), The Mamiya Brothers (2006), Ghost Train (2006), Sugar and Spice (2006), The Angel's Egg (2006), The Letters (2006), Closed Diary (2007), Helter Skelter (2012), Shinjuku Swan (2015)

Series: Hotman (2003), Hitonatsu no Papa e (2003), Aikurushii (2005), 1 Litre of Tears (2005)

Kyoko Fukada (34)

Kyoko Fukada, who is sometimes referred to as Fukakyon, is a popular actress and singer in Japan. The projects she has been a part of throughout her career range from horror to comedy genres, which show how versatile of an actress she is.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; November 2, 1982

Movies: Ring 2 (1999), Dolls (2002), Like Asura (2003), Onmyoji 2 (2003), Kamikaze Girls (2004), The Inugamis (2006), Yatterman (2009), Little Ghostly Adventures of Tofu Boy (2011), Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari (2011), Second Virginity (2011), Yoake no Machi de (2011), A Ghost of a Chance (2011), Wild 7 (2011), Roommate (2013), The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom (2014), Samurai Hustle (2014), Joker Game (2015), Samurai Hustle Returns (2016)

Series: News no Onna (1998), Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake (1998), Oni no Sumika (1999), Food Fight (2000 – 2001), Strawberry on the Shortcake (2001), Fighting Girl (2001), Otousan (2002), Friends (2002), First Love (JP) (2002), Hakoiri Musume! (2003), Minami-kun no Koibito (2004), Fugo Keiji (2005), Shiawase ni Naritai (2005), Gakkō ja Oshierarenai! (2008), The Gorgeous Spy (2009), Heart of a Samurai (2009), Genya (2010), Sengyô shufu tantei: watashi wa shadow (2011), Taira no Kiyomori (2012), TOKYO Airport: Air Traffic Controller (2012)

Yukie Nakama (37)

Yukie Nakama is often included in the many lists regarding Japan’s most beautiful actresses. Other than being an actress, Yukie is also known to be a former idol and famous singer in Japan.

Place and Date of Birth: Okinawa, Japan; October 30, 1979

Movies: Love & Pop (1998), Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999), Ring 0: Birthday (2000), Trick: The Movie (2002), Game (2003), Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (2005), Oh! Oku (2006), Gokusen (2009), Gokusen: The Movie (2009), Trick the Movie: Psychic Battle Royale (2010), Flowers (2010), Bushi no kakeibo (2010), Tempest 3D (2012), The Trick Movie: The Last Stage (2014), Giovanni's Island (2014), The Big Bee (2015)

Series: Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake (1998), Uso Koi (2001), Musashi (2003), Tokyo Wankei (2004), Keibuho Yabe Kenzô (2010 – 2013), Renai Neet: Wasureta Koi no Hajimekata (2012), Honey Trap (2013), Hanako to Anne (2014)

List of Top 5 Japanese Actresses Over 40

Takako Matsu (40)

Takako Matsu comes from a family consisting of members associated with the theatre and performing arts, while her mother is known for being an esteemed business woman. Aside from being an actress herself, Takako also works as a singer and songwriter.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; June 10, 1977

Movies: April Story (1998), 9 Souls (2003), The Hidden Blade (2004), The Uchōten Hotel (2006), Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad (2007), K-20: Legend of the Mask (2008), Villon's Wife (2009), Confessions (2010), Dreams for Sale (2012), The Little House (2014), Hero the Movie (2015), Quartet (2017)

Series: Hana no Ran (1994), Long Vacation (1996), Hideyoshi (1996), Love Generation (1997), Konya wa Eigyouchu (1999), Omiai Kekkon (2000), Hero (2001), Itsumo futari de (2003), Saka no Ue no Kumo (2009 – 2011)

Koyuki Kato (40)

Koyuki Kato, better known as Koyuki, is known for her flawless beauty and fit body. Other than having worked with Hollywood actors such as Tom Cruise, Koyuki also has a successful career in the modeling industry.

Place and Date of Birth: Kanagawa, Japan; December 18, 1976

Movies: Pulse (2001), Alive (2002), Spy Sorge (2003), The Last Samurai (2003), Always: Sunset on Third Street (2005), Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (2007), Always: Sunset on Third Street 2 (2007), Blood: The Last Vampire (2009), Kamui Gaiden (2009), The Detective Is in the Bar (2011), Always san chôme no yûhi '64 (2012), Persona Non Grata (2015)

Series: Shomuni (1998), Oyayubihime (1999), Love Complex (2000), Beautiful Life (2000), Ikebukuro West Gate Park (2000), Antique (2001), Suekko Chounan Ane San Nin (2003), Engine (2005)

Ryoko Shinohara (44)

Ryoko Shinohara has won the Best Actress Award and Best Supporting Actress Award of the Television Academy Awards nearly ten times, so far. Apart from being a versatile actress, she is also known for being an exceptional singer.

Place and Date of Birth: Gunma, Japan; August 13, 1973

Movies: Red Shadow: Akakage (2001), Blessing Bell (2002), Kamikaze Girls (2004), Suite Dreams (2006), Unfair: The Movie (2007), Unfair 2: The Answer (2011), Unfair the End (2015)

Series: Downtown no Gottsu Ee Kanji (1991 – 1997), Sugao no Mama de (1992), Gift (1997), Ao no Jidai (1998), Kira Kira Hikaru (1998), Kiken na Kankei (1999), Hatsu taiken (2002), HR (2002 – 2003), Yankee Bokou ni Kaeru (2003), At Home Dad (2004), Anego (2005), Haken no Hinkaku (2007), Tsuki no Koibito (2010), Last Cinderella (2013)

Rie Miyazawa (44)

Rie Miyazawa is considered to be among the most inspirational actresses of her generation. She carries a timeless sense of glamour and charm, on and off the screen.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; April 6, 1973

Movies: Gô-hime (1992), 47 Ronin (1994), The Cabbie (2000), Peony Pavilion (2001), The Twilight Samurai (2002), The Face of Jizo (2004), Tonî Takitani (2004), Ashura-jô no hitomi (2005), The Book of the Dead (2005), Hana (2006), Oceans (2009), Kiki's Delivery Service (2014), Pale Moon (2014), Pieta in the Toilet (2015), Too Young to Die (2016), Her Love Boils Bathwater (2016)

Youki Kudoh (46)

Youki Kudoh has acquired a place among Japan’s most popular actresses by showing a great sense of versatility when it comes to acting. She has won several awards such as the Japan Academy Price, Independent Spirit Award, and Satellite Award.

Place and Date of Birth: Tokyo, Japan; January 17, 1971

Movies: The Crazy Family (1984), Typhoon Club (1985), Mystery Train (1989), Picture Bride (1994), Heaven's Burning (1997), Rush Hour (1998), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), Blood: The Last Vampire (2000), The Wind Carpet (2003), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Imprint (2006), Rush Hour 3 (2007), L: Change the World (2008), The Limits of Control (2009), Zatôichi: The Last (2010), Karakara (2012), When I Was Most Beautiful (2015), The Actor (2015)