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Yū Aoi

Yū Aoi

Japanese actress
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Japanese actress
Countries Japan
Occupations Actor Fashion model Model
A.K.A. Aoi Yū, Yu Aoi, Aoi Yu
Gender female
Birth August 17, 1985 (Kasuga)
The details

Yu Aoi (蒼井 優, Aoi Yū, born August 17, 1985 in Kasuga, Fukuoka) is a Japanese actress and model. She made her film debut as Shiori Tsuda in Shunji Iwai's 2001 film All About Lily Chou-Chou. She subsequently portrayed Tetsuko Arisugawa in Hana and Alice (2004), also directed by Iwai, Kimiko Tanigawa in the hula dancing film Hula Girls and Hagumi Hanamoto in the 2006 live-action adaptation of the Honey and Clover manga series.
She has won numerous awards for her performances on screen, including the Japan Academy Prize and Kinema Junpo Awards for best supporting actress in 2007 for Hula Girls and Rookie of the Year for continued performances in the field of Films in Media and Fine Arts by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan in 2009.


Early career

Yu Aoi made her stage debut as Polly in the 1999 rendition of Annie, followed by her appearance as a regular on TV Tokyo's Oha Suta (The Super Kids Station) in 2000. A year later, she debuted in Shunji Iwai's All About Lily Chou-Chou playing Shiori Tsuda alongside Hayato Ichihara, Shugo Oshinari, Miwako Ichikawa, and Ayumi Ito. Aoi would later work in Ao to Shiro de Mizuiro and Gaichu with friend Aoi Miyazaki. With her first roles on the small and big screen came TV commercials and endorsements for Sony, Yamaha, DoCoMo, Toshiba and Coca Cola.

In 2003, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kit Kat in Japan, Shunji Iwai shot a series of short films starring Yu Aoi and Anne Suzuki, which later was expanded into the feature film called Hana & Alice, which earned Aoi the Best Actress award at the Japanese Professional Movie Award.


In 2005, Aoi played her first lead on the big screen in Letters from Kanai Nirai, which was sold in Korea with the alternate title of Aoi Yu's Letter due to her popularity. She also had supporting roles in the Satoshi Miki film Turtles Swim Faster than Expected starring Juri Ueno, and Yamato with Shido Nakamura and Kenichi Matsuyama. This supporting role would earn her one of her double-nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the 2007 Japanese Academy Award. She won against herself for her work as Kimiko Tanikawa in the Japanese hit Hula Girls, which was sent to the Academy Awards as the Japanese official selection that year.

To this date, her role as the hula dancing girl from small town Iwaki remains her most successful role yet, earning her a dozen awards as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, alongside her other smaller roles that year as Hagu in Honey & Clover, and Kana Sato in the Shunji-Iwai-produced and Nirai-Kanai-directed Rainbow Song. Aoi also lent her voice to play Shiro in the animated film Tekkon Kinkreet, the adaptation to the Taiyō Matsumoto manga, Black and White, directed by Michael Arias.

During these years, she made commercials for Nintendo, Canon, Shiseido Cosmetics, Shueisha Publishing, Kirin Beverage and continued endorsing DoCoMo. Aoi also released two photobooks with Yoko Takahashi as photographer, and distributed by Rockin'on: Travel Sand in 2005 and Dandelion in 2007.

In 2007, she participated in the live-action adaptation of the manga series Mushishi alongside Joe Odagiri, as well as WOWOW's Don't Laugh at My Romance, Welcome to the Quiet Room with Yuki Uchida, and going back to the stage to play Desdemona in a rendition of Shakespeare's Othello. For these last two roles, Aoi lost 7 kg for her role as eating disorder patient, Miki.


Yu Aoi at the LG exhibition fair in 2009

Aoi began 2008 with the release of Don't Laugh at My Romance, which earned her a nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the Asian Film Awards 2009. She appeared in the experimental drama Camouflage (aka. Aoi Yu x 4 Lies), in which she collaborated with four different directors exploring the theme of lies. The series lasted for 12 episodes, and included work with Ryō Kase, Yoichi Nukumizu, Shoko Ikezu, Nobuhiro Yamashita, and Yuki Tanada.

A couple of months later, NTV signed Aoi to play her first TV leading role as Handa Sen in the live-action adaptation of Shota Kikuchi's manga series Osen, which aired until the end of June with ten episodes.

Next, Aoi released One Million Yen Girl written and directed by Camouflage director Yuki Tanada, and also released by WOWOW. This was her latest leading film role since Nirai Kanai in 2005. She briefly participated in the Japanese World-War-II-jury-themed film Best Wishes for Tomorrow, as well as the international Tokyo! - a three-short-film collection by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon Ho.

In 2009, The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan named Yu Aoi Rookie of the Year in the field of Films in Media and Fine Arts, citing her work in her film debut in All About Lily Chou Chou, until her work in One Million Yen Girl.

In June 2009, the film Ikechan and Me, a live-action adaptation of the picture book of the same name by Rieko Saibara, was released. In it she lends her voice to Ikechan, as well as playing supporting roles in Honokaa Boy and Yoji Yamada's Ototo.

She starred in Ryūichi Hiroki's 2010 film The Lightning Tree. She has also appeared in the films such as Vampire and Rurouni Kenshin.

She appeared in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2012 television drama Penance.


Aoi has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Japan Academy Prize for best supporting actress in 2007, for her portrayal of Kimiko Tanigawa in Hula Girls, for which she was critically acclaimed.

During the same year, she also received both the Blue Ribbon Award and the Yokohama Film Festival award for best actress, both for her performance in Hula Girls and her portrayal of Hagumi Hanamoto in the Honey and Clover live action movie. She also received the Hochi Film Award, the Kinema Junpo Award and the Mainichi Film Concours for best supporting actress for her performances in Hula Girls, Honey and Clover and Rainbow Song. She also received the Nikkan Sports Film Award for best new talent for her performance in Hula Girls.

Earlier, in 2005, she had also won the Japanese Professional Movie Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tetsuko (Alice) Arisugawa in Hana and Alice.



Year Film Role Notes
2001 All About Lily Chou-Chou Shiori Tsuda
2002 Kinema Tōri no Hitobito
Harmful Insect Natsuko
Hashire! Kettamashin: Wedding Kyosō Kyoku Lead Musical
2003 Worst by Chance Harada's girlfriend
1980 Rika Hashiba
2004 Hana and Alice Tetsuko (Alice) Arisugawa Best Actress award at the Japanese Professional Movie Awards
Mask de 41 Haruka Kuramochi
Nanako to Nanao Nanako
Sea Cat Miya Noda
2005 Tetsujin 28: The Movie Mami Tachibana
Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected Kujaku Ogitani
Letters from Nirai Kanai Fuki Asato Aoi Yu's Letter (Korean Title)
Shining Boy & Little Randy Emi Murakami
Henshin Kei Hamura
Otoko-tachi no Yamato Taeko Japanese Academy award for Best Supporting Actress
2006 Honey and Clover Hagumi Hanamoto Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award
Best Actress at the Yokohama Film Festival
Hula Girls Kimiko Tanikawa Best Supporting Actress award at the Japanese Academy Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award
Best Actress at the Yokohama Film Festival
Best New Talent at the Nikkan Sports Film Award's
Tekkon Kinkreet White (voice)
Rainbow Song Kana Sato Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award
2007 Mushishi Tanyu
Welcome to the Quiet Room Miki
2008 Don't Laugh at My Romance En-Chan Asian Film award nomination for Best Supporting Actress
Best Wishes for Tomorrow Kazuko Moribe
One Million Yen Girl Suzuko Sato Hyakuman En To Nigamushi Onna (original title)
Tokyo! Pizza delivery girl Shaking Tokyo segment by Joon-Ho Bong
2009 Honokaa Boy Kaoru
Ikechan and Me Ikechan (voice)
2010 Ototo Koharu Takano
Flowers Rin
Redline Sonoshee (voice)
2011 Patisserie Coin de rue Natsume Usuba
Vampire Mina
2012 Fukushima Hula Girls Narration
Rurouni Kenshin Megumi Takani
2013 Tokyo Kazoku Mamiya Noriko
Space Pirate Captain Harlock Miime (voice)
2014 Zipang Punk (Goemon III) Silver Cat Eyes
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno Megumi Takani
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends Megumi Takani
Climbing to Spring Ai Takazawa
2015 The Case of Hana & Alice Tetsuko "Alice" Arisugawa (voice) Prequel of Hana and Alice.
Journey to the Shore Tomoko
2016 Over Fence Satoshi Tamura
Azumi Haruko wa Yukuefumei Haruko Azumi
What a Wonderful Family! Noriko Mamiya
2017 What a Wonderful Family! 2 Noriko Mamiya
Tokyo Ghoul Rize Kamishiro
Kanojo ga Sono Na wo Shiranai Tori tachi Towako


  • Ao to Shiro to Mizuiro (2001), Kimiko Shiina
  • Ukiwa - Shōnen-tachi no Natsu (2002), Miyuki Yamashita
  • Shin Zukkoke Sanningumi (2002)
  • Kōkōkyōshi (2003), Mami Ezawa
  • Engimono (2003), Calendar
  • 14kagetsu (2003)
  • Ichiban Taisetsu na Dēto Tokyo no Sora- Shanghai no Yume (2004)
  • Yo ni mo Kimyō na Monogatari: Kako kara no Nikki (2004)
  • Nanako to Nanao (2004), Nanako
  • Tiger & Dragon (2005), Risa
  • Nijūyon no Hitomi(24 no Hitomi) (2005)
  • Dr. Koto Shinryojo 2006 (2006), Mina Nakai
  • Aoi Yū × Yottsu no Uso Camouflage (2008)
  • Osen (2008), Sen Handa
  • Ryōmaden (2010), Omoto
  • Penance (Shokuzai) (2012), Sae Kikuchi
  • Galileo 2 (2013)
  • Mottomo Tooi Ginga (2013), Akane
  • The Youngsters (Wakamonotachi) (2014)
  • Dr.Rintarō (2015), Yumeno

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