Japanese rank their favorite 100 historical figures

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    Last night NTV aired a program featuring the results of a survey that asked Japanese people to choose their favorite great person from history (超大型歴史アカデミー史上初1億3000万人が選ぶニッポン人が好きな偉人ベスト100発表). It was a pretty interesting show, featuring occasional re-enactments of scenes from the lives of history’s great men/women(by Japanese actors/comedians, of course). During my downtime at work today I managed to translate the list and provide links to information on each of the figures. Here it is:

    100 Matsuo Basho
    99 Isaac Newton
    98 Akechi Mistuhide
    97 Ikkyu
    96 Chopin
    95 Dazai Osamu
    94 Abraham Lincoln
    93 Shohei “Giant” Baba
    92 Anne Sullivan
    91 Honda Soichiro
    90 Ferdinand Magellan
    89 Natsume Masako
    88 Jean Henri Casimir Fabre
    87 Confucius
    86 Sugita Genpaku
    85 Uemura Naomi
    86 Honda Minako
    83 Joan of Arc
    82 Tsuburaya Eiji
    81 Andy Hug
    80 Yosano Akiko
    79 Albert Schweizer
    78 Marco Polo
    77 Pablo Picasso
    76 Ito Hirobumi
    75 Christopher Columbus
    74 Togo Heihachiro
    73 Ogi Akira(Baseball Player)
    72 Elvis Presley
    71 Tokugawa Mitsukuni
    70 Cleopatra
    69 Kato Daijiro
    68 Cao Cao
    67 Sanada Yukimura
    66 Sato Eisaku
    65 Marie Curie
    64 Uesugi Kenshin
    63 Kurosawa Akira
    62 Jesus Christ
    61 Yoshida Shoin
    60 Martin Luther King Jr.
    59 Katsu Kaishu
    58 Wright Brothers
    Ikariya Chosuke
    56 Oishi Kuranosuke
    55 Marie-Antoinette
    54 Matsuda Yusaku
    53 Okita Souji
    52 Bruce Lee
    51 Tanaka Giichi
    50 Date Masamune
    49 Sugihara Chiune
    48 Charlie Chaplin
    47 Sen no Rikyu
    46 Ishihara Yujiro
    45 Ino Tadataka
    44 Himiko
    43 Takeda Shingen
    42 Okubo Toshimichi
    41 Kondo Isami
    40 Ninomiya Sontoku
    39 John F. Kennedy
    38 Miyazawa Kenji
    37 Yamamoto Isoroku
    36 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    35 Murasaki Shikibu
    34 Takasugi Shinsaku
    33 Soseki Natsume
    32 Mahatma Ghandi
    31 Audrey Hepburn
    30 Ozaki Yutaka
    29 Miyamoto Musashi
    28 Zhuge Liang
    27 John Lennon
    26 Prince Shotoku
    25 Napoleon Bonaparte
    24 Tezuka Osamu
    23 Da Vinci
    22 Ayrton Senna
    21 Minamoto Yoshitsune
    20 Ludwig Van Beethoven
    19 Walt Disney
    18 Yoshida Shigeru
    17 Florence Nightengale
    16 Anne Frank
    15 Fukuzawa Yukichi
    14 Misora Hibari
    13 Albert Einstein
    12 Princess Diana
    11 Saigo Takamori
    10 Hijikata Toshizo
    09 Helen Keller
    08 Mother Teresa
    07 Noguchi Hideyo
    06 Tokugawa Ieyasu
    05 Matsushita Konosuke
    04 Hideyoshi Toyotomi
    03 Thomas Edison
    02 Sakamoto Ryoma
    01 Oda Nobunaga

    About 60% of the names are Japanese, most of them popular samurai and Meiji restoration figures. Interestingly, the top ranked non-Japanese, Thomas Edison, was ranked #1 in the Life Magazine list of the top 100 important people of the last Milenium list(only one Japanese made the list, Hokusai, at 86th). Of course, the TV program wasn’t about the most influential people in world history, it was about the most-liked historical figures. Since the survey was filled out by Japanese people, the list is obviously geared towards Japanese tastes.

    I’ve singled out a few entries on the list that I think are pretty interesting:

    Number 93, “Giant” Baba: His presence, above that of greats like Basho and Lincoln, shows the Japanese love for pro-wrestling. He seems pretty cool.

    Number 88, Jean Henri Casimir Fabre: The founder of modern Entomology. I had never heard of him before, but that is probably because I come from a country where insects are not so popular. Japanese, especially little kids, love insect observation and collection.

    Japanese fans mourn Andy Hug

    Number 81, Andy Hug: Star of K-1 Fighting, he died of leukiemia a few years ago. There are many loyal fans of K-1/Pride in Japan, and some of them voted in the survey.

    Jesus likes Japanese culture!

    Number 62, Jesus Christ: Often the top of American lists of this sort, I wasn’t expecting him to be so high on the Japanese rankings. Apparently he has more supporters than Confucious.

    Number 31, Audrey Hepburn: Japanese people of all ages love her for some reason.

    Number 27, John Lennon: In Japan, the Beatles are bigger than Jesus, way bigger. There is a John Lennon Museum in Saitama City.

    Number 23, Leonardo Da Vinci: The Japanese translation of The Da Vinci Code remains a best seller, sigh.

    Number 22, Aryton Senna: Racing is a popular sport in Japan. Think Dale Earnhardt, only less white-trashy and more international.

    Number 19, Walt Disney: The Japanese love everything Disney.

    Helen Keller on a Japanese Stamp

    Number 9, Helen Keller: So popular that her teacher, Anne Sullivan, even made the top 100. I guess the Japanese like stories of people who try really hard. It is also worth noting that she visited Japan(as did Charlie Chaplin, another popular figure in Japan).

    Number 5, Matsushita Konosuke: Built the Matsushita Heavy Industries empire. I must admit that I had never heard of him until last night. A lot of Japanese think he was great.

    Japanese illustration of Edison

    Number 3, Thomas Edison: Another man who worked really hard to create an empire and change the world. The Japanese seem to respect his incredibly hard-working spirit.

    The rest of the list is mostly important Japanese historical figures, such as samurai, prime ministers, war leaders, and authors/poets. Check out all the wikipedia links for a lesson in Japanese history.
    Here is the list in Japanese, for those interested in checking if I screwed up:

    1織田信長 2坂本龍馬 3エジソン 4豊臣秀吉 5松下幸之助
    6徳川家康 7野口英世 8マザー・テレサ 9ヘレン・ケラー 10土方歳三
    11西郷隆盛 12ダイアナ元妃 13アインシュタイン 14美空ひばり 15福澤諭吉
    16アンネ・フランク 17ナイチンゲール 18吉田茂 19ウォルト・ディズニー 20ベートーベン
    21源義経 22アイルトン・セナ 23レオナルド・ダ・ヴィンチ 24手塚治虫 25ナポレオン
    26聖徳太子 27ジョン・レノン 28諸葛亮孔明 29宮本武蔵 30尾崎豊
    31オードリー・ヘップバーン 32マハトマ・ガンジー 33夏目漱石 34高杉晋作 35紫式部
    36モーツァルト 37山本五十六 38宮沢賢治 39ジョン・F・ケネディ 40二宮尊徳
    41近藤勇 42大久保利通 43武田信玄 44卑弥呼 45伊能忠敬
    46石原裕次郎 47千利休 48チャールズ・チャップリン 49杉原千畝 50伊達政宗
    51田中角栄 52ブルース・リー 53沖田総司 54松田優作 55マリー・アントワネット
    56大石内蔵助 57いかりや長介 58ライト兄弟 59勝海舟 60キング牧師
    61吉田松陰 62イエス・キリスト 63黒澤明 64上杉謙信 65キュリー夫人
    66佐藤栄作 67真田幸村 68曹操 69加藤大治郎 70クレオパトラ
    71徳川光圀 72エルビス・プレスリー 73仰木彬 74東郷平八郎 75コロンブス
    76伊藤博文 77パブロ・ピカソ 78マルコ・ポーロ 79シュバイツァー 80与謝野晶子
    81アンディ・フグ 82円谷英二 83ジャンヌダルク 84本田美奈子 85植村直己
    86杉田玄白 87孔子 88ファーブル 89夏目雅子 90マゼラン
    91本田宗一郎 92サリバン先生 93ジャイアント馬場 94リンカーン 95太宰治
    96ショパン 97一休宗純 98明智光秀 99ニュートン 100松尾芭蕉

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