Best Japanese Guitarists

55 Best Japanese Guitarists

Japanese is a treasure trove of musical talent. Japanese guitarists are known for their incredible skill and creativity. Many Japanese guitarists have a unique sound that stands out. They often experiment with different techniques and instruments. Some blend traditional Japanese music with modern styles.

So, the Japanese guitar scene is full of talented guitar players who push the boundaries of music. We’ve highlighted the 55 best Japanese guitarists based on their technical skills, unique style, fame, and impact on both the Japanese and global music scene.

1. Hotei Tomoyasu

Hotei Tomoyasu
  • Known For: Solo artist and guitarist for BOØWY.
  • Style: Rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Battle Without Honor or Humanity,” “Be My Baby.”
  • Notable Facts: Known internationally for his work on the “Kill Bill” soundtrack.

Hotei is a rock guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer, renowned for his eclectic and energetic performances. His hit single, “Battle Without Honor or Humanity”, reverberated globally when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Kill Bill.” Hotei’s music is a fusion of rock, electronic, and orchestral elements.

2. Miyavi

Miyavi
  • Known For: Solo career.
  • Style: Rock, pop, and blues.
  • Famous Songs: “Horizon,” “What’s My Name?”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his finger-slapping technique on guitar.

Miyavi, the Samurai Guitarist! This Japanese sensation is known for his unique slap style of playing, blending various genres to create a sound that’s distinctively his. Miyavi’s music is a diverse mix of pop, rock, and electronic elements, making him a global musical icon.

3. Char

Char
  • Known For: Solo artist.
  • Style: Rock, blues.
  • Famous Songs: “Smoky,” “Navy Blue.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his expressive playing and use of the wah-wah pedal. Has influenced many Japanese guitarists with his bluesy style.

Char is a blues guitarist who has been a significant influence on the rock and blues scene in Japan since the 1970s. Char’s playing style is characterized by its smoothness and soulfulness. He is revered as a pioneer in the Japanese music scene, and his contribution to the genre has inspired a lot of musicians in Japan and beyond.

4. Tak Matsumoto

Tak Matsumoto
  • Known For: Guitarist for B’z.
  • Style: Rock, hard rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Ultra Soul,” “Love Phantom.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his powerful riffs and melodic solos. Won a Grammy Award for his work on “Take Your Pick” with Larry Carlton.

Tak Matsumoto is a renowned Japanese guitarist, producer, and member of the rock duo, “B’z.” Tak’s playing is characterized by its versatility, technical proficiency, and emotional depth. He is the first guitarist from Asia to have his signature model guitar with Gibson.

5. Masayoshi Takanaka

Masayoshi Takanaka
  • Known For: Solo career and guitarist for Sadistic Mika Band.
  • Style: Jazz fusion and rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Blue Lagoon,” “Ready to Fly.”
  • Notable Facts: Takanaka is known for his colorful guitars and vibrant stage presence.

Masayoshi Takanaka is a Japanese guitarist who has been a significant influence in the jazz-fusion genre, known for his colorful, expressive, and dynamic playing style. Takanaka’s music is a rich blend of jazz, funk, and rock elements.

6. Ryo Kawasaki

Ryo Kawasaki
  • Known For: Jazz fusion guitarist.
  • Style: Jazz and fusion.
  • Famous Songs: “Prism,” “Juice.”
  • Notable Facts: Kawasaki was a pioneer in the fusion genre and developed guitar synthesizers.

Guitarist Ryo Kawasaki played with Gil Evans, Chico Hamilton, Elvin Jones, and others. In the 70s he helped develop the guitar synthesizer and in the late 1980s, he began making electro-boogie.

7. Akira Takasaki

Akira Takasaki
  • Known For: Guitarist for Loudness.
  • Style: Heavy metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Crazy Nights,” “S.D.I.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his fast and technical playing.

Akira Takasaki is known for his technical guitar playing and quick chord changes. He was inspired by Ritchie Blackmore, the guitarist from the legendary rock band Deep Purple. Takasaki and his metal band Loudness were among the first Japanese rock bands to gain worldwide recognition. In 1981, they became the first Japanese heavy metal band to sign to a major American label.

8. June Yamagishi

June Yamagishi
  • Known For: Guitarist for The West Road Blues Band and solo work.
  • Style: Blues, jazz.
  • Famous Songs: “Let’s Stay Together,” “Stormy Monday.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his soulful blues guitar playing.

Japanese musician who has lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. He is known for playing guitar in funk bands Papa Grows Funk, The Wild Magnolias, and Funk on Da Table. June has also collaborated with such musicians as Bobby Womack, Dr. John, Shuggie Otis, and B.B. King.

9. Hide (Hideto Matsumoto)

Hide Hideto Matsumoto
  • Known For: Guitarist for X Japan.
  • Style: Heavy metal and rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Pink Spider,” “Rocket Dive.”
  • Notable Facts: Hide was a major influence on Japanese rock music.

Guitarist Hideto Matsumoto, or Hide, was known as the “Pink Spider” due to his signature long hair. He is one of the first to embody the famous Japanese “kei styles” (similar to glam rock). In 1987, he joined the metal band X Japan as a guitarist and songwriter. In his songs, Hide spoke about Japanese angst and teenage rebellion. After leaving X Japan, Hide continued his successful solo career. On May 2, 1998, Hide committed suicide.

10. Li-sa-X

Li-sa-X
  • Known For: Young guitar prodigy.
  • Style: Rock, metal.
  • Famous Songs: Covers of technical metal songs.
  • Notable Facts: Known for her incredible speed and precision at a very young age.

Despite her young age, Li-sa-X has stunned the world with her exceptional guitar skills, specializing in heavy metal and rock genres. She gained recognition through her YouTube videos, where she showcased her proficiency in complex guitar techniques, earning admiration from renowned musicians and guitar enthusiasts around the world.

11. Ichika Nito

Ichika Nito
  • Known For: Solo artist.
  • Style: Math rock, instrumental.
  • Famous Songs: “Forest,” “Playground.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his technical and intricate guitar playing, popular on social media.

12. Syu

Syu
  • Known For: Guitarist for Galneryus.
  • Style: Power metal and neo-classical metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Silent Revelation,” “Hunting for Your Dream.”
  • Notable Facts: Syu is renowned for his fast playing and technical skills.

13. Kazumi Watanabe

Kazumi Watanabe
  • Known For: Jazz fusion guitarist.
  • Style: Jazz, fusion, and rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Spain,” “One for All.”
  • Notable Facts: He is a prominent figure in Japanese jazz.

14. Kazuhito Yamashita

Kazuhito Yamashita
  • Known For: Classical guitarist.
  • Style: Classical.
  • Famous Performances: “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his virtuosic playing and arrangements.

15. Sugizo

Sugizo
  • Known For: Guitarist for Luna Sea and X Japan.
  • Style: Rock, electronic, and classical.
  • Famous Songs: “True Blue,” “I for You.”
  • Notable Facts: Sugizo also plays the violin.

16. Chachamaru (Yukihiro Fujimura)

Chachamaru
  • Known For: Guitarist for Gackt.
  • Style: Rock and metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Redemption,” “Last Song.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for technical playing style and unique tuning.

17. Hizaki

Hizaki
  • Known For: Guitarist for Versailles.
  • Style: Symphonic metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Aristocrat’s Symphony,” “The Revenant Choir.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for intricate and melodic solos.

18. Yuji Adachi

Yuji Adachi
  • Known For: Guitarist for Dead End.
  • Style: Rock and heavy metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Serafine,” “Phantom Nation.”
  • Notable Facts: Adachi was known for his fast and technical playing style.

19. Masahiro Andoh

Masahiro Andoh
  • Known For: Guitarist for T-Square.
  • Style: Jazz fusion.
  • Famous Songs: “Truth,” “Takarajima.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his sophisticated and melodic playing.

20. Saki

Saki
  • Known For: Guitarist for Mary’s Blood.
  • Style: Metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Marionette,” “Crime and Punishment.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for her powerful and technical guitar solos.

21. Kaoru

Kaoru
  • Known For: Guitarist for Dir En Grey.
  • Style: Alternative metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Saku,” “Kodou.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his aggressive and innovative playing.

22. Hisashi Imai

Hisashi Imai
  • Known For: Guitarist for Buck-Tick.
  • Style: Alternative rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Dress,” “Just One More Kiss.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his unique and experimental style.

23. Kyoji Yamamoto

Kyoji Yamamoto
  • Known For: Guitarist for Bow Wow.
  • Style: Hard rock and heavy metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Heart’s on Fire,” “Silver Lightning.”
  • Notable Facts: Active since the 1970s and highly influential in the Japanese rock scene. He is known for his masterful guitar playing.

24. Luke Takamura

Luke Takamura
  • Known For: Guitarist for Seikima-II.
  • Style: Heavy metal.
  • Famous Songs: “El.Dorado,” “Ragnarok.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his powerful guitar riffs.

25. Michiya Haruhata

Michiya Haruhata
  • Known For: Guitarist for TUBE.
  • Style: Rock and pop.
  • Famous Songs: “Season in the Sun,” “Remember Me.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his melodic and catchy playing.

26. Kotaro Oshio

Kotaro Oshio
  • Known For: Solo acoustic guitarist.
  • Style: Fingerstyle and acoustic.
  • Famous Songs: “Twilight,” “Blue Sky.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his intricate and melodic fingerpicking.

27. Shigeru Suzuki

Shigeru Suzuki
  • Known For: Guitarist for Happy End.
  • Style: Folk rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Kaze wo Atsumete,” “Natsu Nandesu.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his influential role in Japanese rock.

28. Shin-Ichi Fukuda

Shin-Ichi Fukuda
  • Known For: Classical guitarist.
  • Style: Classical.
  • Famous Performances: Various classical pieces.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his technical skill and interpretative depth.

29. Kazuo Imai

Kazuo Imai
  • Known For: Avant-garde and improvisational music.
  • Style: Free improvisation.
  • Famous Works: Collaborations with various experimental artists.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his unconventional playing techniques.

30. Yuto Miyazawa

Yuto Miyazawa
  • Known For: Child guitar prodigy.
  • Style: Rock.
  • Famous Songs: Covers of Ozzy Osbourne songs like “Crazy Train.”
  • Notable Facts: Recognized by the Guinness World Records as the youngest professional guitarist.

31. Kazuhisa Uchihashi

Kazuhisa Uchihashi
  • Known For: Experimental guitarist.
  • Style: Free improvisation and noise.
  • Famous Albums: “Triage,” “Misinterpretations.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his work with the daxophone.

32. Kazuyoshi Saito

Kazuyoshi Saito
  • Known For: Solo artist.
  • Style: Folk rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Yasashiku Naritai,” “Aruku Around.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his acoustic performances.

33. Midori Tatematsu

Midori Tatematsu
  • Known For: Guitarist and vocalist for Gesu no Kiwami Otome.
  • Style: Indie rock, pop.
  • Famous Songs: “Ryouseibai,” “Watashi Igai Watashi Janai no.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for her unique voice and intricate guitar work.

34. Inoran

Inoran
  • Known For: Guitarist for Luna Sea.
  • Style: Rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Rosier,” “I for You.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his smooth and melodic guitar work.

35. Hideki Ishima

Hideki Ishima
  • Known For: Guitarist for Flower Travellin’ Band.
  • Style: Rock and psychedelic.
  • Famous Songs: “Satori,” “Hiroshima.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his innovative and experimental playing.

36. Ken

Ken Guitarist
  • Known For: Guitarist for L’Arc-en-Ciel.
  • Style: Rock and pop.
  • Famous Songs: “Blurry Eyes,” “Honey.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his melodic and emotional solos.

37. Hiroki Kamemoto

Hiroki Kamemoto
  • Known For: Guitarist for Glim Spanky.
  • Style: Rock and blues.
  • Famous Songs: “Orokamono-tachi,” “All Of Us.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his bluesy riffs and energetic performances.

38. Mami Sasazaki

Mami Sasazaki
  • Known For: Guitarist for SCANDAL.
  • Style: Pop rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Shunkan Sentimental,” “Harukaze.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for her strong riffs and melodic solos.

39. Tomohiko Kira

Tomohiko Kira
  • Known For: Guitarist for ZABADAK.
  • Style: Folk rock, progressive rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Polaris,” “Kitakaze to Taiyo.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his intricate acoustic guitar work.

40. Masaaki Kishibe

Masaaki Kishibe
  • Known For: Acoustic guitarist.
  • Style: Fingerstyle.
  • Famous Songs: “Hana,” “Kodama.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his beautiful and melodic fingerpicking.

41. Teru

Teru
  • Known For: Guitarist for Versailles.
  • Style: Symphonic metal.
  • Famous Songs: “The Revenant Choir,” “Ascendead Master.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his neoclassical solos and elaborate stage outfits.

42. Makoto Matsushita

Makoto Matsushita
  • Known For: Solo artist.
  • Style: Jazz and fusion.
  • Famous Songs: “First Light,” “September Rain.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his smooth and expressive style.

43. Tadashi Sasaki

Tadashi Sasaki
  • Known For: Solo artist.
  • Style: Classical.
  • Famous Performances: Various classical pieces.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his precise and emotive playing.

44. Yasuji Ohagi

Yasuji Ohagi
  • Known For: Classical guitarist.
  • Style: Classical.
  • Famous Performances: Various classical pieces.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his smooth and refined playing.

45. Koichi Fukuda

Koichi Fukuda
  • Known For: Guitarist for Static-X.
  • Style: Industrial metal.
  • Famous Songs: “Push It,” “Cold.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his heavy riffs and electronic elements.

46. Hisashi

Hisashi
  • Known For: Guitarist for GLAY.
  • Style: Rock.
  • Famous Songs: “However,” “Winter, Again.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his versatile playing and energetic performances.

47. Shin Murohime or Scene (Minoru Kojima)

Shin Murohime
  • Known For: Guitarist for experimental punk band The Mad Capsule Markets.
  • Style: Rock and punk.
  • Famous Songs: “Sanbyoukan no Jisatsu,” “Humanity.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his experimental playing.

48. K.A.Z

K.A.Z
  • Known For: Guitarist for Oblivion Dust and VAMPS.
  • Style: Rock and alternative.
  • Famous Songs: “Microchipped,” “Love Addict.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his powerful riffs and stage presence.

49. Hideaki Kikuchi

Hideaki Kikuchi
  • Known For: Guitarist for The Alfee.
  • Style: Rock and pop.
  • Famous Songs: “Starship,” “Flower Revolution.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his versatility and stage presence.

50. Közi

Közi
  • Known For: Guitarist for Malice Mizer.
  • Style: Gothic rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Beast of Blood,” “Gardenia.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his theatrical performances and dark style.

51. Hiroyuki Hayashi

Hiroyuki Hayashi
  • Known For: Guitarist for Polysics.
  • Style: Electro rock and punk.
  • Famous Songs: “Electric Surfin’ Go Go,” “I My Me Mine.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his energetic and quirky stage presence.

52. Hideki Matsushige

Hideki Matsushige
  • Known For: Session guitarist.
  • Style: Various genres.
  • Famous Works: Played for numerous Japanese artists.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his versatile playing and session work.

53. Taku Sugimoto

Taku Sugimoto
  • Known For: Experimental and improvisational guitarist.
  • Style: Free improvisation.
  • Famous Works: Collaborations with various avant-garde artists.
  • Notable Facts: Known for his minimalist and quiet playing style.

54. Miya

Miya
  • Known For: Guitarist for Mucc.
  • Style: Alternative metal and rock.
  • Famous Songs: “Yakusoku,” “Nirvana.”
  • Notable Facts: Miya is the main songwriter for the band.

55. Susumu Hirasawa

Susumu Hirasawa
  • Known For: Solo artist and composer.
  • Style: Electronic, rock, progressive.
  • Famous Songs: “Big Brother,” “Phonon Belt.”
  • Notable Facts: Known for his work on anime soundtracks like “Berserk.”