Hayao Miyazaki is the subject of an exhibition that opens on Wednesday at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The Japanese animator, mangaka, film director, producer and screenwriter’s 50- year career has brought him fame, acclaim and controversy. He was pronounced a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 2012. In 1979, he left Nippon Animation, the studio famous for anime adaptations of literary classics, in the middle of its production of the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables …

Orphan Anne Shirley has become so beloved a character that her story has sold more than 50 million copies. She has also proved a boon for Prince Edward Island, the tiny Canadian province where the novel is set. The tourism office has several travel itineraries of Anne-related attractions. Last month, when they discovered Anne had a particularly famous fan, they invited her to the island. The Twitter invitation read, “Come visit PEI anytime. We would love to welcome in the land of “Anne” #respect”, and was sent to Aretha Franklin …

The Undisputed Queen of Soul (as self-described on her Twitter profile) is one septuagenarian who has truly embraced social media. One of her first tweets announced the cancellation of her wedding to William Wilkerson. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born in the midst of the second world war, on the day of her birth – March 25, 1942 – the United States government announced that female American pilots would be sent to Britain to help the Allied war effort (at the time female pilots were allowed only to serve in the Civil Air Patrol). This decision was inspired by another champion of women’s rights, Eleanor Roosevelt …

The “First Lady of the World”, as she was later dubbed by US president Harry Truman, is remembered for her strong-willed and outspoken tenure as first lady. She held her own press conferences, wrote a regular newspaper column and famously disagreed with her husband in public. In 1938, she wrote a book criticising his international policies, called This Troubled World. In 1999, she made it onto a Gallup poll list of the most admired people of the 20th century. At No 9, she places only three spots below her husband. The most admired person on that list was also a woman – Mother Teresa …

The Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was born in 1910 in Skopje, then part of the Ottoman Empire, now the capital of Macedonia. She left home at the age of 18 to become a missionary and never saw her family again, spending the majority of her life in Calcutta, India. She died in the city of 4.5 million on September 5, 1997, a date now designated as the International Day of Charity by the United Nations. Mother Teresa died in a house that has been turned into a museum and has received many famous visitors, including Akie Abe, wife of the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe …

Abe has earned himself a reputation as a bullish, right-wing nationalist but his favourite foods – ice cream and watermelon – reveal a softer, sweeter side of the man. His favourite film also betrays childhood nostalgia; Always: Sunset on Third Street is set in 1960s boom-time Tokyo. But a more recent Japanese film, The Wind Rises, is not one of his favourites; it was primarily a criticism of Abe’s policies. The controversial movie was made by Hayao Miyazaki.


This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post Sunday Magazine on 10 May, 2014