Mao Inoue

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Mao Inoue
井上 真央
Born (1987-01-09) January 9, 1987 (age 32)
Yokohama, Japan
Years active1992–present
AgentUN et NEUF

Mao Inoue (井上 真央, Inoue Mao) (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) and as Makino Tsukushi in the popular Hana Yori Dango series.[1][2]


Dramas and films[edit]

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 outstanding performance from her past dramas landed her the lead role in the drama special Hanaikusa as a maiko-turned-geisha.

Come 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 a few consecutive weeks and became the second fastest earning film in 2008. It also became a phenomenal success, not only in Japan, but 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. Right after 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 since 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 woman who lived through World War II.[5] It was planned to air from March 28, 2011, to September 24, 2011, but it was delayed due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. It started to air on April 4, 2011. She won "Best Actress" in the 70th The Television Drama Academy Award.

In February 2011, a film was released in theaters with Mao, costarring known actor 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 revealed 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. But it is in Youkame no Semi that her excellent portrayal of a daughter with a difficult past earned her a few 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 incredible performance in Oba: Miracle in the Pacific, she was chosen to star in the comedy Tsuna Hiichatta!,[8] which will be released in 2012.[needs update]

It was announced in May 2012 that Inoue Mao will 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 a war film called 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 record. The film also won The Audience Award at the Udine Far East Film Festival.

It was announced that she will reunite with few of her former costars like Abe Sadao, Okada Masaki,Yutaka Takenouchi and Yasuko Matsuyuki,and Tokkan /Tsuna Hiichatta! director in a comedy film "King of Apology" which will be released in September 2013.[needs update]

In March 2014, Mao 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 Mao will star her first taiga which will be on air from January to December, 2015.

On August 23, 2017, after a year and a half hiatus, it has been announced that Mao Inoue will make a drama comeback in a Fuji TV drama in fall titled "School Counselor" . Broadcast will start Oct 17, 2017.

Print and television endorsements[edit]

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 acting[edit]

After many years of working as an actress, Inoue has finally decided to expand her career and debuted as voice actress. She was chosen to provide the voice of Apple Boy in one of the Anpanman films. The anime film was released in July, 2014.

A new animation film is said to be her next voice project titled 3DCG Rudolph and Ippaiattena. It was announced on 31 July 2015. This film was released on August 6, 2016.


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

A new stage play was announced called "Anger" with great cast as Inoue Mao, Eita, Abe, and Matsu Takako. It will run from January to April, 2016.

Personal life[edit]

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.[12]


Television dramas[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
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 Tsukushi Makino Lead role
Hotaru no Haka Natsu Sawano
2007 Hana Yori Dango 2 Tsukushi Makino 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 Tokkan Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushukan 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 Ran Hansha Mitsue Kayama Lead role, TV movie


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Check It Out, Yo! Yui Haebaru
2007 Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro Mika Miura
2008 Hana Yori Dango Final Tsukushi Makino Lead role
2009 I Give My First Love to You Mayu Taneda Lead role
2010 My Darling is a Foreigner Saori Lead role
Surely Someday Shōko Gotō
2011 Taiheiyō no Kiseki: Fox to Yobareta Otoko Chieko Aono
Rebirth Erina Lead role
2012 Tug of War! Nishikawa Chiaki’ Lead role
2013 The Eternal Zero Miyabe Matsuno
King of Apology Noriko Kuramochi
2014 The Snow White Murder Case Miki Shirono Lead role
2016 Rudolf the Black Cat Rudolf (voice) Lead role
2018 Yakiniku Dragon Rika Lead role
2019 Katsuben!


  • 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 appearances[edit]

  • 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 nominations[edit]

Television and film[edit]

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[13]
16th Hashida Awards Best Newcomer Won[14]
MTV Student Voice Awards Best Actress Won[15]
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 35th Japan Academy Prize Best Actress in a Leading Role Rebirth Won
Japan Film Festival Theater Staff Best Actress Won
16th Nikkan Sport Grand Prix Best Actress Tokkan Nominated
2015 38th Japan Academy Prize Best Actress in a Leading Role The Snow White Murder Case Nominated
2019 61st Blue Ribbon Awards Best Supporting Actress Yakiniku Dragon Nominated

Other awards[edit]

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


  1. ^ 主演女優賞 (in Japanese). The Television. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  2. ^ "Oguri, Inoue win Hashida Awards". Tokyograph. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  3. ^ ""Hana Yori Dango" movie to open next summer". Tokyograph. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  4. ^ "Shun Oguri, Mao Inoue reunite in "Veterinarian Dolittle" drama". Tokyograph. 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  5. ^ "Mao Inoue to shine in 84th Asadora". Tokyograph. 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  6. ^ "Mao Inoue stars in "Youkame no Semi" movie adaptation". Tokyograph. 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  7. ^ "Youkame-no-semi-wins-in-10-categories-at-35th-japan-academy-prize". Tokyograph. 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  8. ^ "Inoue-mao-stars-in-tug-of-war-comedy-by-director-mizuta-nobuo". Tokyograph. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  9. ^ "Inoue-mao-to-star-as-tax-collector-in-new-drama-tokkan/". Tokyohive. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  10. ^ "Okada-junichi-to-play-a-kamikaze-pilot-in-a-movie-eien-no-zero/". Tokyohive. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  11. ^ 白ゆき姫殺人事件(2014). allcinema. Stingray. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
  12. ^ "Mao Inoue, Keiko Kitagawa graduate from Meiji". Tokyograph. 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  13. ^ "Winners of 10th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix". Tokyograph. 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  14. ^ "Oguri, Inoue win Hashida Awards". Tokyograph. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  15. ^ "Micro named Best Artist at Student Voice Awards". Tokyograph. 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2010-08-24.

External links[edit]