A while ago I wrote about my Top 10 Japanese Dramas. Since then I’ve been looking for new dramas to watch and I’ve been basing that on my favorite Japanese actors and actresses. Many of my favorites have been in multiple shows that I have thoroughly enjoyed, so I wanted to share them with you. Some of them have stronger careers than others, but they’ve all done their part in enhancing my overall J-Drama experience.


karinaKarina is a model and an actress and has also been in three of my favorite J-Dramas. She usually plays a sort of no-nonsense woman, usually with a bit of a tomboyish attitude. She’s a very strong female character and always excels at any role she plays. I’m currently watching her in the show PRICELESS where she co-stars alongside Kimura Takuya (see below).

Best Drama She’s Been In: Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu
For more information and a list of all the shows she’s been in, check her out on DramaWiki.

Abe Hiroshi

Abe-Hiroshi-watches-you-while-you-sleep.Abe Hiroshi. My dude. Even when he ends up in a show or a movie that isn’t that great, I still enjoy watching just because he’s in it. He just has a way of talking and carrying himself that makes everything so interesting. He stars in my all time favorite Japanese drama (Kekkon Dekinai Otoko) as well as my all time favorite Japanese movie (Survive Style 5+). He’s a pretty awesome guy.

Best Drama He’s Been In: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
For more information and a list of all the shows he’s been in, check him out on DramaWiki.

Aragaki Yui

aragaki yuiAragaki Yui is adorable. She doesn’t always find herself in the best roles in dramas, but she’s managed to make it into two of my all time favorites. She is hilarious to watch, and when she has a good character to play, she does a really great job of it. I think she does best in roles where she plays a high schooler. The stuff I’ve seen where she plays someone older just isn’t as good in my opinion.

Best Drama She’s Been In: Papa to Musume no Nanokakan
For more information and a list of all the shows she’s been in, check her out on DramaWiki.

Yamashita Tomohisa

YamapiYamapi here is another actor that’s in a ton of great shows. He’s been in two of my top favorites, and he’s been in at least one “classic” J-Drama that I’ve unfortunately not gotten around to watching yet. He’s always fun to watch, and he co-stars alongside Kitagawa Keiko in the excellent J-Drama Buzzer Beat.

Best Drama He’s Been In: Proposal Daisakusen
For more information and a list of all the shows he’s been in, check him out on DramaWiki.

Kitagawa Keiko

keiko-kitagawaKitagawa Keiko is really pretty. Along with Buzzer Beat, she’s also been in a great drama called Tsuki no Koibito where she co-starred alongside Kimura Takuya. She played very different roles in these two shows, but she played each equally as well. She’s also been in a decent amount of movies and just recently stared in a J-Drama alongside Gackt. The show is called Akumu-chan and I’m really looking forward to checking it out.

Best Drama She’s Been In: Buzzer Beat
For more information and a list of all the shows she’s been in, check her out on DramaWiki.

Nagase Tomoya

Tomoya-NagaseNagase Tomoya is hilarious. Without him, My Boss My Hero would just not have been the same. Since this was the first show I saw him in, I really have trouble seeing him play anything else, but he really is a talented actor. Apparently he sings too, but I’ve never looked up any of his stuff. Aragaki Yui was his love interest in My Boss My Hero, and they had many hilarious scenes together.

Best Drama He’s Been In: My Boss My Hero
For more information and a list of all the shows he’s been in, check him out on DramaWiki.

Kuninaka Ryoko

kuninaka ryokoI’ve actually only seen Kuninaka Ryoko in one show. Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. But I just thought she did such a good job with it. Maybe it was just the character she was playing in it that made her so enjoyable. Or maybe it was the awkwardly cute pug that she had in the show. I dunno. If you have any other suggestions for dramas she’s been in, please let me know.


Best Drama She’s Been In: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
For more information and a list of all the shows she’s been in, check her out on DramaWiki.

Kimura Takuya

kimura-takuyaKimura Takuya is like a magic man. He’s been in so many good shows and so many of them are rated way higher than your run of the mill J-Drama. I consider a viewership rating of 13% and up to be pretty good – Kimura Takuya’s shows are more often than not 20% and above. Either he makes the shows so much better than they normally would be, or he just really knows what roles to choose. Either way, he’s a great actor and definitely deserves all the fame and recognition he’s gained.


Kimura Takuya is also in tons of commercials, and he’s a member of the pop group SMAP. He really does it all. He’s even a licensed hairdresser. Along with Karina, he stars in a show called PRICELESS. This is the drama I’m currently watching, and so far it doesn’t disappoint. Hopefully it stays good enough for me to see it all the way to the end.

Best Drama He’s Been In: Pride
For more information and a list of all the shows he’s been in, check him out on DramaWiki.

So tell me, who’s your favorite J-Drama actor/actress? Whats your favorite show that they’ve been in? Share your recommendations down in the comments!

  • x_stei

    Agreed. Maou is a very strong drama thriller.

  • x_stei

    I knew it! I had to wonder which “classic” you were talking about, but I pegged it was Nobuta. wo Produce. Or else it would be on your top ten list, probably.
    Do see it! it is really really good. My favourite.

  • x_stei

    I have a difficulty “liking” Japanese actors. Because so many of their work depends largely on the director and the script of the show. I don’t think there is any Japanese actor whose works I’ve all seen.

    I tend to like

    Ninomiya Kazunari – I know MatsuJun gets more publicity, but Nino has more talent in acting I think. He chooses more various roles and he always plays them with authenticity. I always love his acting. Best Nino dramas: Freeter, ie wo Kau, Yasashii Jikan, Haikei, Chichiue-sama, Yamada Taro Monogatari, Ryuusei no Kizuna. What I said before about shows being dependent upon the writing, this show list follows because Yasashii Jikan and Haikei, chichiue-sama were written by Kuramoto Sou, my all-time favourite Japanese screenwriter. His stories are so beautifully crafted and sweet.

    Matsumoto Jun – He’s a pretty face to look at. I like him because he’s popular and nice to look at. Best shows: Hana yori Dango, Wagaya no Rekishi.

    Yamashita Tomohisa – I don’t know why but I just feel so sad when I see him cry in character. He’s very good-looking, but beyond that I do think he has a lot of talent. I am not sure why but I don’t think he’s using it incorrectly. I think with some scripts and roles he does very well, and in others he can be a bit bland. Best shows: Nobuta. wo Produce, Proposal Daisakusen.

    Narimiya Hiroki – the bad boy. I loved him when I first saw him in Orange Days, even though he only played a side character. I think he’s another one of those actors who knows what roles to pick and how to play them well. I think he’s one of the most talented Japanese actors and has a very wide range of acting chops. Best shows: Bloody Monday, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan!, Orange Days.

    Eita – Another one that I enjoy watching. I don’t think his range is as wide as Nino and Narimiya, but the roles he picks he knows how to play well. I think he’s got an aura of “boy next door” (is that a thing?) and that adds to his ordinary intrigue. Best show: Orange Days.

    Ueno Juri – Talk about talent. This girl is a chameleon. I discovered that many of these actors and actresses are from my earliest favourite JDrama Orange Days. Ueno is among them, though if you don’t look closely you will miss her. From a bisexual motorcyclist, to a substitue teacher to an apparently crazy pianist, this girl can play them all. So well that I couldn’t even recognize her in the opening credits of Last Friends. Highly recommended. Best shows: Sunao ni Narenakute, Last Friends, Nodame Cantabile.

    Kamiki Ryuunosuke – At such a young age, this guy has accomplished very much. From starring in his first drama series at age 14, Kamiki Ryuunosuke has always impressed me by his earnest approach to acting. Best shows: Tantei Gakuen Q, 11 mo iru!

    Inoue Mao – I really like her. But the only reason I can come up with is that she was in Hana yori Dango with MatsuJun. (I believe most “Best Japanese Actors” list are primarily dependent upon the shows they’ve been in, and how good they look.)

    Ueto Aya – I think this girl is not afraid to be risky. Not only is she exquisitely beautiful, but I love that she knows how to show raw emotion. Best shows: Nagareboshi, Tsubasa no Oreta Tenshitachi.

    Takenouchi Yutaka – I love this guy. I think he’s got great maturity and range. Another one that has many achievements. Plus he’s very handsome. Best shows: Nagareboshi, Rondo, BOSS 1 & 2, Mou ichido kimi ni, propose.

    Amami Yuki – the height! As a very accomplished actress from Takarazuka Revue, her filmography is peppered with strong willed female leads. Best shows: Top Caster, BOSS 1 & 2, Wagaya no Rekishi.

    There are many many more. But I’ll leave it for now! Sorry about the long list! :)

  • x_stei

    I reocmmend Orange Days, Nobuta. wo Produce and Kaze no Garden. – Really good collection to start I think.

  • Jessica May

    Abe Hisoshi really caught my attention. I only saw him in a couple episodes of Kekkon dekinai otoko (haven’t watched the whole series yet) and in the movie Aoi Tori (which I recommend), but I thought he acted very well in both roles, which are very different. It’s definitely one actor I’ll remember!

  • TMegumi

    Kuninaka Ryoko is very talented and versatile. You should watch her in Brother Beat. It’s a Jdrama that guys can definitely enjoy as it’s about a family full of boys & their brash mother. Laughed a lot during that drama. Also, it’s older, but Nemureru Mori with Kimura Takuya is really good.

  • TMegumi

    omg I know i have issues, but I cried at the end of nobuta. MUST watch. Love it.

  • TMegumi

    Wait…I just realized you don’t have one of my faves on this list. Tsumabuki Satoshi is so talented. He was in Wedding Planner with Abe (also one of my faves). Also in Orange Days (one of my fave dramas) and the movie Nada Sou Sou. If he’s not on your radar, check him out!

  • Coa-chan

    Abe Hiroshi is definitely one of the best! :)) I also like Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, Erika Toda, and Naka Yukie! :D I also have a bias towards Kamenashi Kazuya. I enjoy seeing him in dramas although I don’t think his skills are top-notch. :D

  • Coa-chan

    Oh, and can I just say that I love Kenichi Matsuyama and Matsuda Shota (esp. in Liar Game) :D

  • EskimoJo

    I’ve only watched 2 or 3 J-dramas… my ‘to watch’ list has just EXPLODED!

  • Noelle East

    The person in the center of the header image looks EXACTLY like Sam Winchester from Supernatural…. the resemblance is kinda creepy!

  • Sky Walker

    I thinik Kimura Takuya’s best Drama has to be Nankyoku Tairiku~

  • Danny


    Une grande découverte et un artiste qui n’arrête pas de me surprendre et de m’enthousiasmer !
    Il n’y a pas mieux pour moi, et il supplante de très loin tous les autres acteurs, toutes nationalités confondues !

    Un drama : “PRIDE”,
    Un film : “LOVE AND HONOR”.

    C’est mon grand favori ! <333333333333333333333333333333

  • Bella

    Matsuda shota is the best ever along with Haruma Muira and Kengo Kora