Mao Inoue

Mao Inoue (born January 9, 1987) is a Japanese actress. She debuted as an actress when she was five years old. She is best known to Japanese television drama audiences as Akane Imai (今井 茜, Imai Akane) in Kids War (キッズ・ウォー, Kid's War), as Makino Tsukushi in the popular Hana Yori Dango series,[1][2] and as Sugi Fumi (ja) in the 54th taiga drama Hana Moyu.

Mao Inoue
井上 真央
Born (1987-01-09) January 9, 1987 (age 34)
Yokohama, Japan
Years active1992–present
AgentUN et NEUF


Dramas and filmsEdit

Inoue Mao started her career as an actress when she was five years old. She has been in many dramas since then. The viewers took notice of her in the series Kids War which ran successfully from 1999 to 2003. In 2005, Mao took the lead role in the drama adaptation of the popular manga Hana Yori Dango, with Arashi member Matsumoto Jun, Shun Oguri, Shota Matsuda and Tsuyoshi Abe. Mao was awarded Best Actress by Television Drama Academy in the same year that the drama was aired.

In 2006, she co-starred in her first film: Check It Out, Yo! with Hayato Ichihara, Yūta Hiraoka, and Tasuku Emoto. The film was in theaters April 22, 2006.

In early 2007, Hana Yori Dango Returns aired and was better-received than the first season. In the same year, Inoue co-starred in the drama First Kiss with Check It Out, Yo! co-star Yūta Hiraoka. Her performances led to her the lead role in the drama special Hanaikusa as a maiko-turned-geisha.

In 2008, she played the lead role in a drama special Anmitsu Hime as a princess, followed by Anmitsu Hime 2 in the following year, where she sang the theme song with Shoko Nakagawa. After the success of the two Hana Yori Dango dramas, a film was announced in August 2007, just months after the end of the 2007 sequel. It was Inoue's first starring role in a film.[3] The film was released on June 28, 2008. It topped the box office Japan for several weeks and became the second fastest earning film in 2008. It was also successful in many parts of Asia, bringing the name "10 billion yen actress" to Inoue Mao.

Mao stepped back from acting to concentrate on her studies. Following her graduation from Meiji University in March 2009, she started filming for the film adaptation of the manga Boku no Hatsukoi wo Kimi ni Sasagu, in which she shared the lead with Masaki Okada; it was released in theaters in October 2009. In April of the following year, My Darling is a Foreigner was released in theaters in with Inoue starring opposite Jonathan Sherr.

Three years after her last drama, she reunited with Hana Yori Dango co-star Shun Oguri for the drama Jūi Dolittle (獣医ドリトル, Veterinarian Dolittle), which began airing in October 2010.[4] She also starred in the 84th asadora drama Ohisama (おひさま, The Sun), portraying a young woman who lived through World War II in Nagano prefecture[5] It was planned to air from March 28, 2011, to September 24, 2011, but it was delayed due to the earthquake and tsunami. It started to air on April 4, 2011. For her role, she won "Best Actress" in the 70th The Television Drama Academy Awards.

In February 2011, Mao costarred in a film starring Yutaka Takenouchi, called Taiheiyou no kiseki ~Fox to yobareta otoko (Oba: Miracle in the Pacific), about World War II holdout Captain Sakae Oba. Filming took place in Thailand. It was also announced in late September 2010 that Inoue Mao would star in the film Youkame no Semi which was released in April 2011.[6] Both films were successful at the box office. In Youkame no Semi (literally “eighth day cicada” but known in English as Rebirth, her portrayal of a daughter with a difficult past earned her several film awards, including her first "Best Starring Actress" Award in the 35th Japan Film Academy Awards.[7] The film also won nine other awards that year.

Inoue Mao was chosen to chair the Red team in the New Year's Eve Singing Contest Kōhaku Uta Gassen 2011. This team became the first female-led Red team to win the Kōuhaku Uta Gassen in seven years.

Because of her performance in Oba: Miracle in the Pacific, she was chosen to star in the comedy Tug of War!,[8] which will be released in 2012.[needs update]

It was announced in May 2012 that Inoue Mao would play the lead role in a summer drama called Tokkan Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushukan,[9] reuniting her with director Tsuna Hiichatta. The drama will air in July 2012.

She appeared alongside V6's member Junichi Okada and Haruma Miura in the war film Eien no Zero.[10] Filming started June 2012 and released in December 2013. The film topped the Japan Box Office for 8 consecutive weeks and broke box office records. The film also won The Audience Award at the Udine Far East Film Festival.

It was announced that she would reunite with few of her costars and her Tug of War! director in the comedy film King of Apology, which was released in September 2013.

In March 2014, Inoue appeared in a leading role in the mystery suspense film The Snow White Murder Case, directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura.[11]

June 2014, it was announced that Inoue would play the lead role of Sugi Fumi in the 2015 NHK taiga drama, Hana Moyu. As the series received historically low ratings during its run, Inoue took the blame for the low viewership, stating that "I am the starring actress, so it has to be from my lack of ability."[12][13]

On August 23, 2017, after a year and a half hiatus, it was announced that Mao Inoue would make a drama comeback in a Fuji TV drama in fall titled School Counselor. Broadcast began on October 17, 2017.[14]

Print and television endorsementsEdit

Aside from acting in films, Inoue has been chosen to represent Mizuho Bank and Chocola BB Eisai series, NTT fleet West and Asahi Breweries's Asahi Direct Shot. Regarding Asahi Beer Direct shot, Inoue Mao is collaborating with Tomohisa Yamashita. She also appears on the covers of various magazines, such as Bomb, Steady, Weekly Shonen, among others.

Voice actingEdit

In 2014, Inoue debuted as a voice actress, providing the voice of Apple Boy in one of the Anpanman films. The anime film was released in July 2014.

Her next voice project was the animated film 3DCG Rudolph and Ippaiattena. It was announced on 31 July 2015. The film was released on August 6, 2016.


Inoue Mao was cast in a butai (stage play) called MIWA in 2013.

A new stage play starring Inoue was announced called Anger. It ran from January to April 2016.

Personal lifeEdit

Inoue Mao revealed in one show that her mother encouraged her to join performing acts to learn when she was at the age of 4. She was also learning music and arts. Acting wasn't her priority then but when she received her first fan letter, she decided to continue acting. Despite joining the show business at an early age, she also put priority to her school. In 2004, despite the rise of her popularity from the Kid's War series, she decided to put her acting on hold as she concentrated on graduating from University of Japan and enrolling at Meiji University. In 2005, at 18, Inoue enrolled in Meiji University, majoring in theater and literature; she chose Chinese as her second language elective. In her last year of college, she concentrated solely on her studies. In March 2009, she graduated from Meiji University.[15]


Television dramasEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1992 Gakkō ga Abunai! Mami Asakura
Itsumitemo Haran Banjō Midori Satsuki
Tsubusareta Kao! Zankoku na Shashin
1993 Kokoro no Tabi Series
1994 Kagishi
Mayonaka no Jōkyaku
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger Tsuruhime/Ninja White as a young child
1995 Tōryanse
1996 Genki o Ageru Maiko Nitani
Asahi ni Wakare no Seppun o
1997 Abarenbō Shōgun VII Sayo Episode 17 guest appearance
Mito Kōmon 25th Series Episode 14 guest appearance
Terakoya Yume Shinan
Kin no Tamago Episode 3 guest appearance
Shin Hanshichi Torimonochō
Gourmet Mystery Onna Shutchō Ryōrinin ga Iku!
1998 Tōyama no Kinsan vs Onna Nezumi Tonbo Episode 8 guest appearance
Hi no Ryōsen
1999 Kai Ayako Tomita
Kids War Zaken na yo Akane Imai
2000 Kids War 2 Zaken na yo Akane Imai
Otōsan Yū Ōmura
2001 Kids War 3 Zaken na yo Akane Imai
2002 Kids War Special Zaken na yo Akane Imai
Kids War 4 Zaken na yo Akane Imai
Kids War Special Ai Koso Subete da! Zaken na yo Akane Imai
2003 Kids War 5 Zaken na yo Akane Imai Lead role
Kids War Special Kore de Final! Zaken na yo Akane Imai
2004 Home Drama Shōko Nagamine
2005 Kyūmei Byōtō 24 Ji
Hana Yori Dango Makino Tsukushi Lead role
Grave of the Fireflies Natsu Sawano TV movie
2007 Hana Yori Dango Returns Makino Tsukushi Lead role
Ōsama no Shinzō Sakura Kariya
First Kiss Mio Fukunaga Lead role
Hanaikusa Mineko Iwasaki Lead role
2008 Anmitsu Hime Anmitsu Hime/Tokoroten Lead role
2009 Anmitsu Hime 2 Anmitsu Hime/Tokoroten Lead role
Karei naru Spy Ami Yoshizawa Episode 1 guest appearance
Kinkyu Special Kyumei Byoto 24-ji Kyumei Kusush Episode 4 guest appearance
Tengoku de Kimi ni Aetara Natsuko Nonogami Television special
Yonimo Kimyō na Monogatari: Aki no Tokubetsuhen Kanako Okazaki Lead role
2010 Mominoki wa Nokotta Uno
Veterinarian Dolittle Asuka Tashima
2011 Ohisama Yōko Sudō Lead role, asadora
2012 Gooko's Life Suzumiya Miki Lead role
2013 Paji Momo Special appearance
2015 Hana Moyu Sugi Fumi Lead role, Taiga drama
2017 School Counselor Hinata Aizawa Lead role
2018 When a Tree Falls Mitsue Kayama Lead role, TV movie
2019 Shōnen Torajirō Mitsuko Kuruma Lead role, miniseries
TBA Pay to Ace Mai Sakura [16]


Year Title Role Director(s) Notes Ref(s)
2006 Check It Out, Yo! Yui Haebaru Rieko Miyamoto [17]
2007 Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro Mika Miura Katsuhide Motoki [18]
Kaidan Hideo Nakata [19]
2008 Hana Yori Dango Final Makino Tsukushi Yasuharu Ishii Lead role [20]
2009 I Give My First Love to You Mayu Taneda Takehiko Shinjō Lead role [21]
2010 My Darling Is a Foreigner Saori Kazuaki Ue Lead role [22]
Surely Someday Shōko Gotō Shun Oguri [23]
2011 Oba: The Last Samurai Chieko Aono Hideyuki Hirayama [24]
Rebirth Erina Izuru Narushima Lead role [25]
2012 Tug of War! Nishikawa Chiaki Nobuo Mizuta Lead role [26]
2013 The Eternal Zero Miyabe Matsuno Takashi Yamazaki [27]
King of Apology Noriko Kuramochi Nobuo Mizuta [28]
2014 The Snow White Murder Case Miki Shirono Yoshihiro Nakamura Lead role [29]
Go! Anpanman: Apple Boy and the Wishes For Everyone Apple Boy (voice) Jun Kawagoe [30]
2016 Rudolf the Black Cat Rudolf (voice) Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara Lead role [31]
2018 Yakiniku Dragon Rika Wui-Sin Chong Lead role [32]
2019 Talking the Pictures Kotoe Tachibana Masayuki Suo [33]
2020 I Never Shot Anyone Karuta Fukuhara Junji Sakamoto [34]
2021 Angry Rice Wives Ito Matsuura Katsuhide Motoki Lead role [35]
TBA Tojikometa Toiki Yūko Shin'ichi Sugita Lead role [36]


  • 2011: The Message of Life 100 Years Old Shigeaki Hinohara - Narration
  • 2012: Nadeshiko Japan-30 Years of Japanese Women's Football - Narration
  • 2012: Bright Woman- Featured in the documentary - Inoue Mao
  • 2012: The Passion Continent - Interview with Oda Kazumasa
  • 2013: Goal of a 13 Year Old. Even Kids Have Dreams - Narration
  • 2014: NHK Special - "Takashi Yanase" Anpanman Life - Narration


  • 2011: Kouhaku Uta Gassen- MC
  • 2013: 36th Japanese Film Academy Awards- MC
  • 2014: "JAPAN project Ikegami Akira"- Guide
  • 2014: Kouhaku Uta Gassen- Judge


  • 2002: Higuchi Ichiyō
  • 2013: MIWA
  • 2016: Anger

PV appearancesEdit

  • 2007: Kazumasa Oda- "Kokoro"
  • 2008-09: Amnitsu Hime PV-Inoue Mao "Diamonds"


  • Asahi Cream Brown Rice Bran
  • Lipovitan
  • PUMA Playtime
  • Asahi Breweries Asahi Direct Shot (2012 ~ present)
  • Sega Saturn Segata Sanshiro Christmas commercial (1996)
  • Glico Ice [real] (2010 ~ present)
  • NTT West FLET (2010 ~ present)
  • Mizuho Bank (2006 ~ present)
  • Eisai's Chocola BB [Series]
  • Panky (2007 ~ present)
  • KAGOME (2007 ~ present)
  • Dralion (2006 ~ present)
  • Kateikyoushi no Try (2006 ~ 2007)
  • Shirakabe Gura Mio Sparkling (2016 ~ )

Awards and nominationsEdit

Television and filmEdit

Year Organization Award Work(s) Result
2005 47th Television Drama Academy Awards Best Actress Hana Yori Dango Won
2007 10th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix Best Actress Hana Yori Dango Returns Won[37]
16th Hashida Awards Best Newcomer Won[38]
MTV Student Voice Awards Best Actress Won[39]
54th Television Academy Drama Awards Best Actress First Kiss Nominated
2008 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Best Actress Hana Yori Dango Returns Won
2010 Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix (Fall) Best Supporting Actress Veterinarian Dolittle Nominated
2011 3rd TAMA Film Award Best Emerging Actress Miracle in the Pacific Won
35th Fumiko Yamaji Award Film Awards Newcomer Actress Rebirth Won
26th Nikkan Sports Film Award Best Newcomer Rebirth, Miracle in the Pacific Won
TV Navi Best Actress Ohisama Won
70th Television Drama Academy Awards Best Actress Won
2012 36th Elan d'or Awards Newcomer of the Year Herself Won
35th Japan Academy Film Prize Best Actress Rebirth Won
Japan Film Festival Theater Staff Best Actress Won
16th Nikkan Sport Grand Prix Best Actress Tokkan Nominated
2015 38th Japan Academy Film Prize Best Actress The Snow White Murder Case Nominated
2019 61st Blue Ribbon Awards Best Supporting Actress Yakiniku Dragon Nominated

Other awardsEdit

  • 2007 Nail Queen Actress Category
  • 2009 22nd Japan Best Dressed Eyes Awards
  • 2011 Fountain Pen Award


  1. ^ 主演女優賞 (in Japanese). The Television. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Oguri, Inoue win Hashida Awards". Tokyograph. 11 May 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  3. ^ ""Hana Yori Dango" movie to open next summer". Tokyograph. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Shun Oguri, Mao Inoue reunite in "Veterinarian Dolittle" drama". Tokyograph. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Mao Inoue to shine in 84th Asadora". Tokyograph. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Mao Inoue stars in "Youkame no Semi" movie adaptation". Tokyograph. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Youkame-no-semi-wins-in-10-categories-at-35th-japan-academy-prize". Tokyograph. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Inoue-mao-stars-in-tug-of-war-comedy-by-director-mizuta-nobuo". Tokyograph. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Inoue-mao-to-star-as-tax-collector-in-new-drama-tokkan/". Tokyohive. 14 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Okada-junichi-to-play-a-kamikaze-pilot-in-a-movie-eien-no-zero/". Tokyohive. 23 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  11. ^ 白ゆき姫殺人事件(2014). allcinema. Stingray. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Inoue Mao Takes The Blame For Low Taiga Ratings". Japan Bullet. Japan Bullet. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  13. ^ Brasor, Philip (30 January 2016). "NHK may need to rethink its 'taiga' formula". The Japan Times. The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  14. ^ "井上真央が「明日の約束」主演決定 「花燃ゆ」以来約2年ぶりの連ドラ". Livedoor ニュース (in Japanese). LINE Corporation. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Mao Inoue, Keiko Kitagawa graduate from Meiji". Tokyograph. 28 March 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  16. ^ "Pay to Ace". Nippon TV. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "チェケラッチョ!!". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  18. ^ "ゲゲゲの鬼太郎". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  19. ^ "怪談". Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  20. ^ "ダーリンは外国人". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  21. ^ "僕の初恋をキミに捧ぐ". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  22. ^ "ダーリンは外国人". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  23. ^ "シュアリー・サムデイ". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  24. ^ "太平洋の奇跡 フォックスと呼ばれた男". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  25. ^ "八日目の蝉". Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  26. ^ "綱引いちゃった!". Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  27. ^ "永遠の0". Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  28. ^ "謝罪の王様". Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  29. ^ "白ゆき姫殺人事件". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  30. ^ "それいけ!アンパンマン りんごぼうやとみんなの願い". Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  31. ^ "ルドルフとイッパイアッテナ". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  32. ^ "焼肉ドラゴン". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  33. ^ "カツベン!". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  34. ^ "一度も撃ってません". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  35. ^ "井上真央主演「大コメ騒動」2021年に公開決定、米騒動の発端となった女たち描く". Natalie. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  36. ^ "井上真央主演「閉じ込めた吐息」の製作決定、母娘だからこそ伝えられない感情描く". Natalie. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  37. ^ "Winners of 10th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix". Tokyograph. 5 May 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  38. ^ "Oguri, Inoue win Hashida Awards". Tokyograph. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  39. ^ "Micro named Best Artist at Student Voice Awards". Tokyograph. 30 August 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2010.

External linksEdit