I think most people who visit Japan wonder a little about the people whose portraits adorn the bank notes, at least I do! At the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri (the Festival of the Ages) one of the final groups to enter the parade represent the westernization of Japan, with a postal office worker, a policeman and an actress that represents the first ever professional female writer in Japan, Ichiyou Higuchi (樋口一葉), who despite a short life (1872-1896) managed to impress the public with her poetry and novels. Today she is remembered and honored by having her portrait on the 5000 yen note. I have not read any of her work yet, someday I hope to. There is a film of her most famous novel, made in 1955 that also looks interesting.
At the festival, the actress was very popular and received a lot of enthusiastic encouragement from some unusually outspoken old men near me which made her blush and laugh. Very cute!