Lead character, Sazae, riding a horse with her little sister, Wakame.
Genre Comedy
Written by Machiko Hasegawa
Published by Asahi Shinbun
English publisher Canada United States 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)
Studio TCJ (later Eiken)
Released October 5, 1969 – ongoing
Anime and Manga Portal

Sazae-san (サザエさん?) is a Japanese comic strip created 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 (朝日新聞?) wished to have Hasegawa draw the comic strip 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 comic dealt with contemporary situations in Tokyo until Hasegawa retired and ended the comic on February 21, 1974.



The comic was very topical. 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 comic, 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 lacks modern marvels such as video games and otaku culture), 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.
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.
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?). Born on March 18.
Voiced by: Takako Sasuga
Sazae's father and patriarch of the family. Age 54. Born on September 14. (Originally his birth year was given as 1895).
Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai
Sazae's mother. Age 50 (48 in the manga); born on January 11 in Shizuoka.
Voiced by: Miyoko Asō
Sazae's mischievous little brother. Age 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. 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 consist of playing baseball with his friends.
Voiced by: Nobuyo Ōyama (1969), Kazue Takahashi (1970-1998), Mina Tominaga (1998-)
Sazae's little sister. Age 9. She is kind.
Voiced by: Yoshiko Yamamoto (1969-1976), Michiko Nomura (1976-2005), Makoto Tsumura (2005-)
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 Tukada (1979-)
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
Namihei's twin older brother.
Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai
Masuo's newphew.
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: Sanji Hase , Eken Mine, Yasuo Iwata
Nanbutsu's wife. Fune's childhood friend.
Voiced by: Reiko Yamada
Nanbutsu's daughter.
Voiced by: Keiko Han , Miina Tominaga, Eriko Kawasaki
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.
Ura-no Grandpa's wife.
The employee of Mikawaya who makes house calls for food orders.
Seiyū:Issei Futamata
One of Tarao's friends.
Voiced by: Reiko Katsura
Katsuo's best friend and his classmate.
Seiyū:Sumiko Shirakawa
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Voiced by: Keiko Han , Miina Tominaga, Eriko Kawasaki
One of Katsuo's classmates.
One of Katsuo's classmates, who has a crush on him.
Voiced by: Tarako, Keiko Yamamoto
One of Katsuo's classmates.
One of Katsuo's classmates.
Katsuo's teacher.
One of Wakame's classmates.
One of Wakame's classmates.
One of Masuo's co-workers.
Seiyū:Kazuya Tatekabe(-197?), Norio Wakamoto(197?-)
Seiyū:Norio Wakamoto
Seiyū:Norio Wakamoto
The shopkeeper of Mikawaya, a sake shop.
Seiyū:Norio Wakamoto
Hanako's father.
Seiyū:Norio Wakamoto

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

  • the Japanese family names Isono, Fuguta, and Namino: iso means beach, fugu means blowfish, and nami means wave
  • Masuo: masu means trout
  • Fune: ship
  • Sazae: horned turban shell—a kind of sea snail
  • Tara: codfish
  • Namihei: nami means wave
  • Katsuo: skipjack tuna, a type of fish
  • Wakame: means seaweed, a green plant that lives underwater.
  • Norisuke: nori, dried seaweed used to wrap sushi
  • Taiko: tai is sea bream
  • Ikura: salmon roe

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

Animated series

Sazae-san monument at Isono Park in Fukuoka, where the strip first appeared.

In October 1969, Fuji Television started an animated comedy series, which is still on the air today and currently in production, making it the longest-running animated 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 animated 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.[1] From 1969 to 1991, Sazae ended each episode by tossing a bean or rice cake in the air and catching it in her mouth. This was often imitated by viewers. In 1990, a child choked to death after imitating the trick, and Fuji Television switched to the janken match.[citation needed]

On November 16, 2008, the series' 3000th episode was broadcast in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the animated series; this special episode also featured Sazae-san wearing five costumes based on submissions from viewers.

The animated 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 television anime to use traditional cel animation, although as of April 2009, the opening credits were digital.[2]

  • Opening Song: "Sazae-san" by Yuko Uno
  • Ending Song: "Sazae-san Ikka" by Yuko Uno

Live-action series

In 1955, a radio station[who?] 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 animated series and uses the same elements, including the theme music and the closing janken match.

See also


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