Lead character, Sazae, riding a horse with her little sister, Wakame.
Genre Comedy
Written by Machiko Hasegawa
Published by Asahi Shinbun
English publisher Kodansha Bilingual Comics
Demographic Josei
Magazine Fukunichi Shinbun
Asahi Shinbun, etc.
Original run April 22, 1946February 21, 1974
Volumes 45 (approx. 10,000 comic strips)
Anime television series
Studio TCJ (later Eiken)
Network Fuji Television
Original run October 5, 1969 – present
Episodes 7500+[1][2]

Sazae-san (サザエさん) is a Japanese yonkoma manga series written and illustrated by Machiko Hasegawa. It was first published in Hasegawa's local paper, the Fukunichi Shinbun (フクニチ新聞), on April 22, 1946. When the Asahi Shinbun wished to have Hasegawa draw the four-panel comic for their paper, she moved to Tokyo in 1949 with the explanation that the main characters had moved from Kyūshū to Tokyo as well. The manga dealt with contemporary situations in Tokyo until Hasegawa retired and ended the series on February 21, 1974.

Sazae-san won the 8th Bungeishunjū Manga Award in 1962.[3] A television anime adaptation by TCJ, and later Eiken, began airing in Japan in October 1969 and holds the Guinness World Record for the longest running animated television series.[4]


In the beginning, Sazae was more interested in being herself than dressing up in kimono and makeup to attract her future husband. Hasegawa was forward-thinking in that, in her words, the Isono/Fuguta clan would embody the image of the modern Japanese family after World War II.

Sazae was a very "liberated" woman, and many of the early plotlines revolved around Sazae bossing around her husband, to the consternation of her neighbors, who believed that a man should be the head of his household. Later, Sazae became a feminist and was involved in many comical situations regarding her affiliation with her local women's lib group.

Despite the topical nature of the series, the core of the stories revolved around the large family dynamic, and were presented in a lighthearted, easy fashion. In fact, the final comic, in 1974, revolved around Sazae's happiness that an egg she cracked for her husband's breakfast produced a double yolk, with Katsuo remarking about the happiness the "little things" in life can bring.

Today, the popular Sazae-san anime is frequently taken as nostalgia for traditional Japanese society, since it aludes to a simpler time before modern technology, even though it was leftist to the point of controversy when it originally ran in Japanese newspapers.


A typical Sazae-san strip

Isono and Fuguta family

The main character. Age 24 (27 in the manga), born on November 22 in Fukuoka. In the beginning Sazae's mother was worried that Sazae was too unladylike to ever attract a husband, but she married Masuo. She is very cheerful but always quarrels with Katsuo.
Voiced by: Midori Katō
Sazae's salaryman husband. 28 years old (32 in the manga). Born on April 3 in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka. After marrying Sazae, he moved in with her family. He is a very earnest and calm person.
Voiced by: Shinsuke Chikaishi (1969–1978), Hiroshi Masuoka (1978–)
Sazae and Masuo's 3-year old son. Usually called Tara-chan (タラ ちゃん). He was born on March 18.
Voiced by: Takako Sasuga
Sazae's father and patriarch of the family. Aged 54. Born on September 14. (Originally his birth year was given as 1895). He is very stubborn. He always scold Sazae and Katsuo.
Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai (1969–2014), Chafurin (2014–)
Sazae's mother. Age 52 (48 in the manga); born on January 11 in Shizuoka. She is calm person and trusted by all of her family.
Voiced by: Miyoko Asō (1969–2015), Yorie Terauchi (2015–)
Sazae's mischievous little brother. Aged 11. He was often suffered under the wrath of his older sister Sazae, when he refused to do his homework or accidentally insults other guests in the manner of faux-pas. The same thing occurs for Namihei, his father when he usually finds out about Katsuo's low grade on his tests and lectures through scolding. His main activity consists of playing baseball with his friends.
Voiced by: Nobuyo Ōyama (1969), Kazue Takahashi (1970–1998), Mina Tominaga (1998–)
Sazae's little sister. Age 9 (7 in the manga). She is kind.
Voiced by: Yoshiko Yamamoto (1969–1976), Michiko Nomura (1976–2005), Makoto Tsumura (200–-)
The Isono family's pet cat. He hates mice.
Voiced by: ? (The meaning of this "?" credit has been a topic of debate amongst viewers for years.)

Isono and Fuguta family's kinship

A little sister of Namihei and Umihei. Norisuke's mother.
Voiced by: Kamina Hamano, Reiko Yamada (2009–)
Nagie's son and Sazae's cousin who works for a newspaper publisher.
Voiced by: Ichirō Murakoshi (1969–1998), Tarō Arakawa (1998–2000), Yasunori Matsumoto (2000–)
Norisuke's wife.
Voiced by: Ryoko Aikawa, Masako Ebisu (1969–1979), Emiko Tsukada (1979–2013), Sayaka Kobayashi (2013–)
Norisuke and Taiko's son.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura
Namihei's Meiji Revolution samurai ancestor. Around the time of the Bon Festival, he haunts Namihei's (or sometimes Katsuo's) dreams.
Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai (?–2013), Chafurin (2014–)
Namihei's twin older brother.
Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai (1970–2013), Chafurin (2014–)
Masuo's big brother.
Voiced by: Hiroshi Masuoka (?), Ikuya Sawaki (2002)
Masuo's nephew.
Voiced by: Fujiko Takimoto
Fune's big brother.
Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto

Isasaka family

A novelist who lives in the next house of Isono family's house.
Voiced by: Eken Mine (1985–2002), Atsushi Ii (2002), Yasuo Iwata (2002–2009), Kōtarō Nakamura (2009–)
Nanbutsu's wife. Fune's childhood friend.
Voiced by: Reiko Yamada
Nanbutsu's daughter.
Voiced by: Keiko Han (1985–1990), Miina Tominaga (1990–1998), Eriko Kawasaki (1998–)
Nanbutsu's son.
Voiced by: Hiroshi Takemura
Isasaka family's pet dog.

Hama family

A next-door neighbor of the Isono family.

An art painter. His given name is unknown.
Voiced by: Eken Mine
Hama's daughter. A high school student.
Voiced by: Keiko Han
The Hama family's pet dog.

Other characters

An old man who lives in a house in back of (ura-no) Isono family's house.
Voiced by: Eken Mine (1985–2002), Atsushi Ii (2002–2013), Mitsuru Takakuwa (2013–),
Ura-no Grandpa's wife.
Voiced by: Sumiko Shirakawa , Keiko Yamamoto , Reiko Yamada
The employee of Mikawaya who makes house calls for food orders.
Voiced by: Issei Futamata
One of Tarao's friends.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura
One of Tarao's friends.
Voiced by: Reiko Yamada
Katsuo's best friend and his classmate.
Voiced by: Sumiko Shirakawa (1969–2015), Rumi Ochiai (2015–)
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Voiced by: Keiko Han (1985–1990), Miina Tominaga (1990–1998), Eriko Kawasaki (1998–),
One of Katsuo's classmates, who has a crush on him.
Voiced by: Tikako Akimoto (1969–?), Tarako, Keiko Yamamoto (?–)
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Voiced by: Reiko Yamada
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Voiced by: Emiko Tsukada (?–2013), Sayaka Kobayashi (2014–)
Katsuo's teacher.
Voiced by: Eken Mine (?–2002), Sanji Hase (?), Ikuya Sawaki (2002–)
One of Wakame's classmates.
Voiced by: Emiko Tsukada (?–2013), Sayaka Kobayashi (2014–)
One of Wakame's classmates.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura
One of Wakame's classmates.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura (?–1990), Miina Tominaga (1990–1998), Eriko Kawasaki (1998–),
One of Masuo's co-workers.
Voiced by: Kazuya Tatekabe(–197?), Norio Wakamoto(197?–)
One of Namihei's co-workers.
Voiced by: Eken Mine (?–?), Atsushi Ii (?–2002), ? (2013–?)
One of Namihei's co-workers.
Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto , Hiroshi Takemura
Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto
Voiced by: Ikuya Sawaki
The shopkeeper of Mikawaya, a sake shop.
Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto (?–?), Ikuya Sawaki (?–)
Voiced by: Кiyoshi Кomiyama (?–1985)
Hanako's father.Boss of the Hanazawa Real Estate Agency.
Voiced by: ?, Norio Wakamoto (?–)
Voiced by: Eken Mine (?–2002), Atsushi Ii (2002–2013), Mitsuru Takakuwa (2013–),

The names of the characters are derived from marine animals and things relating to the sea:

The inspiration for the characters is said to have come to Hasegawa as she was strolling along the beach one day.

Although the comic ran for twenty-eight years, the characters never aged: Sazae was always 27 years old, her husband 28, her father and mother were always 54 and 48, and Sazae's siblings were around eleven and seven years of age, respectively.


The comic strip was published in book form by Shimaisha (姉妹社), which Machiko ran with her sister, Mariko. In April 1993, this publishing company went out of business and the comic books went out of print. The same year, Asahi Shinbun purchased the right to publish the forty-five paperback volumes. Selected comics have been published in the United States by Kodansha America, Inc.

Sazae-san on television

Anime series

In October 1969, Fuji Television started an anime comedy series, which is still on the air today and currently in production, making it the longest-running anime and non-soap opera scripted TV series in history. It has been broadcast every Sunday from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. and contains three vignettes. The anime series has some characters, like Katsuo's classmates, who have not appeared in Hasegawa's original works.

The end credits for each episode include brief animations of the original comic strips, with dialogue appearing in word balloons. Since November 1991, after the closing credits and the next episode previews, each show has ended with a janken match between Sazae and the viewers at home, in which Sazae holds up a sign representing one of the appropriate hand gestures.[5] From 1969 to 1991, Sazae ended each episode by tossing a bean or rice cake in the air and catching it in her mouth. Fuji Television switched to the janken match after doctors at Tohoku University Hospital and the National Center for Child Health and Development raised concerns that children may try to imitate Sazae and potentially choke on food.

On November 16, 2008, the series' 2000th 30-minute broadcast was aired in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the anime series; this special episode also featured Sazae-san wearing five costumes based on submissions from viewers.

The anime series was originally sponsored solely by Toshiba—including placement of its products within the show—but later expanded to other sponsors.

Sazae-san was the last anime television series to use traditional cel animation, although as of April 2009, the opening credits were digital.[6] The series had finally switch to digital in 2015. Despite the series being a hit, Hasegawa stated that she never wanted any merchandise to be made for it, including home video rights, making availability of past episodes, especially those prior to the introduction of the VCR, very rare. Following her death, her request to prohibit older episodes from being released in home media continues to be honored.[7]

On September 5, 2013, Sazae-san was awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest running animated television series in the world.[4] As of November 2015, there have been 7332 episodes aired.[1][n 1]

Live-action series

In 1955, a radio station aired a serial drama based on the comic strip.

The same year, a short-lived live-action television series was started, and was aired on what is now TBS.

In November 1965, TBS started a dramatic television series modeled after the comic strip. It aired until September 1967.

In 1979, NHK made a dramatic serial which ran for six months, focusing on the creation of Sazae-san and Machiko Hasegawa in her younger days.

In 2010, Fuji Television debuted a live-action situation comedy series, Sazae-san 2 (サザエさん2), followed the following year with Sazae-san 3 (サザエさん3). The series is patterned after the anime series and uses the same elements, including the theme music and the closing janken match.

See also



  1. Each weekly airing of Sazae-san consists of three separate episodes. The episode count includes specials.
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