Open main menu

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.

Yu Aoi
Aoi Yu at Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2017 (40170394542).jpg
Native name
蒼井 優
夏井 優

(1985-08-17) August 17, 1985 (age 33)
Other namesYu Yamasato (After marriage)
Years active1999–present
AgentItoh Co.
Spouse(s)Ryota Yamasato (2019 - )

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.[1]



Early careerEdit

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.[2]


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.[3] 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,[4] 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.[citation needed]


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. Later that year, Aoi provided the voice of Ikechan in the film Ikechan and Me, a live-action adaptation of the picture book of the same name by Rieko Saibara, as well as playing supporting roles in Honokaa Boy and Yoji Yamada's Ototo. The following year Aoi starred in Ryūichi Hiroki's 2010 film The Lightning Tree.[5] She later appeared in Vampire,[6] Rurouni Kenshin,[7] and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2012 television drama Penance.[8]

Aoi married comedian Ryota Yamasato on June 3, 2019.[9]



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 Lead
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 Lead, Aoi Yu's Letter (Korean Title)
Shining Boy & Little Randy Emi Murakami
Henshin Kei Hamura
Yamato Taeko
2006 Honey and Clover Hagumi Hanamoto
Hula Girls Kimiko Tanikawa
Tekkon Kinkreet White (voice)
Rainbow Song Kana Sato
2007 Mushishi Tanyu
Welcome to the Quiet Room Miki
2008 Don't Laugh at My Romance En-Chan
Best Wishes for Tomorrow Kazuko Moribe
One Million Yen Girl Suzuko Sato Lead, 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 Family 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 [10]
2015 The Case of Hana & Alice Tetsuko "Alice" Arisugawa (voice) Lead, prequel of Hana and Alice.[11]
Journey to the Shore Tomoko
2016 Over the Fence Satoshi Tamura [12]
Japanese Girls Never Die Haruko Azumi Lead
What a Wonderful Family! Noriko Mamiya
2017 What a Wonderful Family! 2 Noriko Mamiya
Tokyo Ghoul Rize Kamishiro
Mixed Doubles Yo
Birds Without Names Towako Lead
2018 What a Wonderful Family! 3: My Wife, My Life Noriko Mamiya
Penguin Highway Lady (voice)
2019 Miyamoto kara Kimi e Yasuko Nakano
A Long Goodbye Fumi Higashi Lead
Romance Doll Sonoko Lead
Children of the Sea Ruka's mother (voice)
Aru Sendō no Hanashi


  • 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[13]
  • Hello Hari Nezumi (2017), Setsuko Kawai
  • Miyamoto kara Kimi e (2018)

Awards & NominationsEdit

Year Award Category Work Result
2005 Japan Film Professional Awards Best Actress Hana and Alice Won
2006 Hochi Film Award Best Supporting Actress Hula Girls Won
Rainbow Song Won
Kinema Junpo Won
Nikkan Sports Film Award Best Newcomer Hula Girls Won
Mainichi Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
Rainbow Song Won
Honey and Clover Won
Yokohama Film Festival Won
2007 Japan Academy Prize Hula Girls Won
Kinema Junpo Award Honey and Clover Won
2008 Asian Film Award Don't Laugh at My Romance Nominated
2017 Nikkan Sports Film Award Best Actress Birds Without Names Won
Hochi Film Award Won
Yokohama Film Festival Won
Osaka Cinema Festival Won
2018 Japan Academy Prize Won
Kinema Junpo Award Won


  1. ^ 平成20年度芸術選奨 受賞者及び贈賞理由 (in Japanese). The Agency for Cultural Affairs. Archived from the original on 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  2. ^ "Japanese Professional Movie Award". Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. ^ 第30回日本アカデミー賞優秀作品 [The 30th Japan Academy Award] (in Japanese). Japan Academy Prize Association. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  4. ^ "Yû Aoi". IMDb. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  5. ^ Schilling, Mark (October 29, 2010). "'Raiou (The Lightning Tree)'". The Japan Times.
  6. ^ DeFore, John (January 26, 2011). "SUNDANCE REVIEW: Vampire". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. ^ Lee, Maggie (October 29, 2012). "Rurouni Kenshin". Variety.
  8. ^ Fainaru, Dan (August 29, 2012). "Penance - Review - Screen". Screen International.
  9. ^ "山里亮太と蒼井優3日に結婚". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). June 5, 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "Cast". Haru o Seotte official website (in Japanese). Toho. 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  11. ^ Kevin Ma (October 17, 2014). "Iwai Shunji to direct first anime feature". Film Business Asia. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  12. ^ オーバー・フェンス (in Japanese). inc. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  13. ^ 蒼井優、"芸者"役で堺雅人を翻ろう 新水10ドラマ豪華キャストが発表 (in Japanese). oricon ME inc. Retrieved 2015-05-31.

External linksEdit