Dench was announced as one of five Praemium Imperiale Laureates alongside British sculptor Anish Kapoor, artist Bill Viola, Japanese composer Seiji Ozawa and architect Ricardo Legoretta during a ceremony held in London this week.
The laureates also attended a special reception thrown by Queen Elizabeth II in their honour at Buckingham Palace.
Dench commented that she took great pride in receiving the Praemium Imperiale, saying: "I feel overwhelmed. I've been to Japan twice with the RSC [Royal Shakespeare Company] and I made a lot of really good friends."
The actress and her fellow Laureates will officially be given the Praemium Imperiale and a £115,000 ($183,344) monetary prize in Tokyo later this year.
Sophia Loren, French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, Oscar winner John Gielgud and director Ken Loach are among the previous recipients of the Praemium Imperiale.
Dench was also recently awarded a Fellowship by the British Film Institute (BFI).
My Week with Marilyn, in which Dench stars with Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, is released on November 4 in US cinemas.
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