What makes a great actress? Or, let me rephrase that: What makes a great Japanese actress - preferably the younger generation? Looking back at some memorable performances, is Miki Nakatani's acting in Memories of Matsuko a good measure of how Japanese actresses fare in the international scene? Or should we look up to Yasuko Matsuyuki in Hula Girls (who lost to Nakatani at the Japan Academy for the Best Actress trophy?) Perhaps the proper answer to that is Rie Miyazawa's win for The Twilight Samurai?

Let's mention some notable performances through the years as we do our countdown of the 30 hottest Japanese young actresses...

Memories of Matsuko

While critics are divided on their impressions of Memories of Matsuko, the praise for Nakatani's acting is almost universal. What really is about this movie that seems controversial?

It took me a bit of time to write Part 3 of this hitlist - the Tori Matsuzaka spotlight is getting some amazing link love and discussions; and hopefully Tori himself will get well soon! He has Gatchaman to promote and a new taiga drama series. Why I mention him is because he's part of our hitlist (Part 2 to be exact) and the actors in this part share the same awesome fashion and style sense as him, though they are his seniors in the acting field.

What we have here are three actors who have made their mark on Japanese television - Eita is certainly the most popular among the three, with a lot of new drama shows (circa 2010-2013), while Hayami Mokomichi just got back into the spotlight with two new drama; Osamu Mukai has done quite a number of new movies himself - but also some good dramas to boost his ranking as a reliable and ratings attraction.

More of them and why they have cool fashion sense - via clips and photos - after the jump!

Part Two of our 10 favorite fashion-savvy Japanese actors features relative newcomers, compared to Part One. But being new to the movie industry only add to their star value, so to speak - Tori Matsuzaka is beginning to level up his acting and is now a threat to grab roles usually reserved to Osamu Mukai and Haruma Miura...

Shohei Miura may be regarded as a favorite among fangirls for his 'pin-up' appeal but an acting award proved there is more to the young actor than a pretty face. Finally, a model turned actor and who was personally handpicked to lead the 3rd movie of the Crow Zero franchise, Masahiro Higashide.

Who says only Joe Odagiri and Shota Matsuda rule the fashion scene?

There are a lot of great (and not so great) actors in Japan with unique fashion styles. Some like to make fashion statements during shows and premiere nights, some are favorites of fashion magazine editors and are often on their cover. Some prefer to wear just shirt and jeans but still look cool, some can be more extravagant.

Let's see... Joe Odagiri has a unique (and sometimes weird) fashion style - which somehow - match some of the characters he portrays in his movies (think: Adrift in Tokyo). Even in the family drama Tokyo Tower, he manages to look unique wearing colors not often identified with men and get away with it. But sometimes he looks a bit ridiculous! 

Inspired by the recent Cannes Film Festival win of Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda's "Like Father, Like Son", we are compiling 30 of the best Japanese movies dealing with the coming-of-age theme! Think Billy Elliot, Pretty in Pink, Stand by MeStrayed, Dead Poets' Society and Good Will Hunting in different lights, settings, and circumstances and with English subtitles!

In a country where family dramas rule TV and plenty of exciting young talents, movies about the joy of growing up are meant to be celebrated. But some of the movies also deal with the dark side of society and of the family - bullying, incest, suicide, abandonment, and separation.

The aim is to compile a diverse list of not only critically acclaimed titles but also ordinary moviegoers' favorites. Part 1 after the jump!


Psycho Drama list of 100 favorite Japanese films through the years.