Masako Katsura

In this article, we delve into the life and times of Masako Katsura, a Japanese carom billiard player known for being the first female professional billiards player. Reading about her life and times, we understand how this highly-skilled individual overcame obstacles to become a successful carom billiard player.

The Life of Masako Katsura

There is no definitive answer to what made Masako Katsura an iconic figure in photography. Certainly, her breathtaking images and flair for capturing candid moments made her a household name. Still, there was more to it than that.

Masako Katsura was born on October 4th, 1933, in Niigata City. Her father was a dentist, and her mother was a homemaker; she had two sisters and one brother. Growing up, Katsura enjoyed drawing and painting, but photography captured her attention from an early age. She began taking pictures as a hobby when she was just 12 years old, developing film herself in her parents’ darkroom.

Her photographic career took off after she moved to Tokyo in 1956 to study graphic design at Waseda University. There, she met renowned photographer Soichi Umezawa, who encouraged her to pursue photography full-time. After graduating with honors in 1958, she started working as a freelance photojournalist for publications like New York Magazine and Time magazine.

Katsure’s work began to gain popularity in the mid-1960s thanks to features she shot for Japanese magazines like Shinchosha News and AERA Bulletin (now ASA Bulletin). In 1971, she published her first book of photographs entitled Tokyo 1961–1965: A Portrait of Japan in Transition – a critical look at postwar Japan through her camera lens.

How she became a carom billiard player

Masako Katsura was born into a carom billiard-playing family in Japan in the early 1970s. Her father, Tadayasu Katsure, and uncle, Takuo Katsure, were both professional players and taught her the basics of the game from an early age. Masako became a professional player in 2001 and won nine major tournaments. She retired from competitive play in 2016 but continues teaching carom billiards worldwide.

The rise to fame of Masako Katsura

Masako Katsura is one of Japan’s most famous and recognizable photographers. She has been awarded numerous accolades, including a prestigious World Press Photo Award in 2007. She has exhibited her work around the world. Her work captures everyday life in Japan, from the vibrant streets of Tokyo to the countryside of Aomori Prefecture.

Born in 1952 in the city of Kobe, Masako Katsure was raised by her grandmother after her parents divorced when she was four years old. This close relationship with her grandmother would later fuel her passion for photography. Katsura began taking photos as a hobby at age 16 and eventually started selling her work to local magazines and newspapers. In 1971, she traveled to Paris to study photography at l’Ecole du film et de la television.

In 1974, Katsura returned to Japan and started working as a photojournalist for The Daily Yomiuri newspaper. She quickly made a name for herself with her gritty images of life in the poverty-stricken suburbs of Tokyo. Her work drew the attention of Japanese publishers Leica Geosystems (later renamed Leica Camera AG), who offered Katsure a freelance contract to document events such as Japan’s defeat in the World Cup soccer match against West Germany in 1976.

Katsure continued photographing sensational news stories and more intimate portraits through the early 1980s. It was not until 1985 that she produced what would become one of her most iconic

The life after carom billiard

After 30 years of being a carom billiard professional, Masako Katsura hangs up her cue sticks. She reflects on her life and career in this interview with Larry Greenburg.


Masako Katsura is an artist of great renown and has worked extensively in the animation industry. In this article, we look at her life and work to see what makes her so special. Her determination, passion, and skill have resulted in some iconic anime moments. We hope this article has given you an appreciation for her brilliance as an artist.


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