Shin Koyamada

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Shin Koyamada
Koyamada in Malibu May 2015.jpg
Koyamada in May 2015
Born (1982-03-10) March 10, 1982 (age 35)
Okayama, Japan
Residence Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Actor, producer, entrepreneur
Years active 2002–present
Spouse(s) Carolina Manrique (Nia Lyte)
Koyamada International Foundation (KIF)

Shin Koyamada (小山田 真, Koyamada Shin, born March 10, 1982) is a Japanese born American actor, producer, philanthropist, entrepreneur and martial artist.

Koyamada is well known for co-starring as “Nobutada” opposite Tom Cruise in the Warner Bros. action epic war film The Last Samurai, with a worldwide box office of $456 million as well as starring in the action-adventure Disney Channel Original Movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior. Koyamada has starred in the many other movies and television, including The Yokai King (2015), Heart of the Dragon (2014), Ai No Shizuku (2010), Good Soil, and Wine Road of the Samurai (2006). In 2005, Koyamada founded Shinca Entertainment, an American production company that has produced numerous entertainment related projects in the US.

In addition to his acting career, Koyamada is noted for his philanthropic causes, including Japan–United States relations, international education, tourism, cross-cultural and sister city. In 2008, Koyamada founded Koyamada International Foundation (KIF), a US non-profit organization with its mission to help youth achieve their dreams and goals. In Japan, Koyamada is officially appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador by several Japanese governments, including the Mayor of Kyoto and by the Governor of Okayama Prefecture as well as Special Ambassador by the Japan Karate Federation, representing Karate in Japan and for Tokyo 2020 Olympic. In the United States, Koyamada serves as the first Japanese board member of Sister Cities International and Special Ambassador of Japan-America Society of Southern California.

Koyamada immigrated from Japan to the United States in June 2000. Koyamada holds higher ranked Black belts in martial arts. He is bilingual in Japanese and English.

Early life[edit]

Koyamada was born in Okayama, Japan to a father who had settled in Okayama as an employee of the local government. The family had moved from Kagoshima where the Koyamada family is a direct descendant of Kagenori Koyamada, the lord of the Koyamada clan which was a Samurai clan in the Satsuma domain.[1] In his elementary school years, Koyamada began track and field and was later accepted into the Okayama city junior track and field club. As a small boy, Koyamada's love of American and Hong Kong action movies was influenced by his father. While Koyamada was young, he'd come home from school and have to watch what his father was on television. That happened to be Hollywood movies.[2]

When he was in 8th grade, his parents made him enroll in a Parent-Teacher Association program against his will to study abroad in Brisbane, Australia for three weeks, which became his first trip abroad. His English did not improve on the trip, but the experience impacted him in the way of raising his awareness and curiosity to know more about what was across the sea.[3]

By the end of 9th grade, he chose Hollywood to make his dream come true because his father told him that Hollywood is the capital of the film industry. He was refused by his parents and his teachers to pursue his dream as an actor in Hollywood while in junior high school. In high school, he became the team captain in gymnastics and competed in Okayama Prefecture tournament for three years. In addition, he enrolled in a Karate school against his parents wishes. This became his first martial arts experience. He trained every weekend to hone his skills with the desire to become a Hollywood actor. He graduated from Ichinomiya high school in Okayama in March 2000.

Moving to the US[edit]

In June 2000, Koyamada enrolled in the ESL program at the University of California, Riverside for the summer and moved to Hollywood alone, not knowing anyone, having no place to stay, and not knowing how to speak English.[4] In 2001, he enrolled at Los Angeles City College as a full-time international student where he first began taking intensive acting lessons in the theater academy.

In late 2000, Koyamada began training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for 5 hours a day and 6 days a week at a Chinese martial arts school in Los Angeles. Koyamada specialized in the empty hand form Boot Bo (拔步) and a double broadsword among other 18 Chinese classical weapons in Northern Shaolin. After training for 6 months, Koyamada started competing in six U.S national martial arts competitions in several major cities, including San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco and won gold medals in all but one, and that was a second.[5]


Acting career[edit]

2001-2002: Early work[edit]

Building an acting career with little money, no agent, manager, or other Hollywood connections is an extremely difficult accomplishment. To gain experience and a portfolio, Koyamada worked long hours for very little or no pay in everything he could find. By 2001 at the Knightsbridge Theater, he choreographed and performed martial arts forms and stage combat for a unique production of Shakespeare's Coriolanus. Koyamada appeared in several national commercials, including Disneyland, Apple Computer and JC Penney. Koyamada made a brief guest appearance on Power Rangers Wild Force in 2002. His first movie work was a short comedy award-winning film called A Ninja Pays Half My Rent, directed by Steven Tsuchida. The film was first released and won many awards worldwide in 2003.

2003-2005: The Last Samurai and breakthrough[edit]

Submitting himself for various projects via an Internet casting site, he landed his debut feature film role in The Last Samurai (2004), co-starring opposite Tom Cruise in the Warner Bros. epic as Nobutada, a son of Katsumoto, a fierce archer, double swordsman, and a young Samurai who befriends captured American soldier, played by Tom Cruise. His father in the film, the leader samurai, advises him to teach Cruise’s character in the Japanese way – Japanese culture and Japanese language. He made the most of a powerful debut.[6] While filming The Last Samurai in Japan, United States, and New Zealand for almost 8 months, he added Kyūdō (Japanese Archery) and Yabusame to his repertoire.[7] The movie was well received upon release, with a worldwide box office of $456 million.[8] In addition it was nominated for several awards, including Academy Awards, Golden Globes and the National Board of Review. The movie received an enthusiastic reception among the movie-going public in Japan, with box office receipts higher in that country than in the USA.[9] Critical reception in Japan was generally positive.[10]

2006-2015: Disney Channel and Japan[edit]

Koyamada first starred in Disney Channel Original Movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006) with Brenda Song as Shen, which had over 5.7 million viewers at its premiere, making Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior the fifth highest viewed DCOM.[11] It also received the highest rating in the history of Disney Channel Japan. The film also broke records in the United Kingdom and Europe making Disney Channel the highest rated kids channel in Europe.[12] Wendy Wu jumped over year-ago time period numbers, delivering massive triple-digit gains in Total Viewers (178%, 5,649,000 vs. 2,050,000), Kids 6-11 (132%, 8.8/2,129,000 vs. 3.8/933,000) and Tweens 9-14 (187%, 8.6/2,120,000 vs. 3.0/731,000).[13] Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior is the second DCOM to be added in iTunes. Disney released several products based on the movie to promote the film. After the international success of The Last Samurai in 2004, the producers and writers have pitched the movie to the executives of the Disney Channel along with Koyamada, who backflipped and performed a shaolin double broadsword form, which was his US national championship winning form, in the conference room on the top of the Disney Channel. On the next day, Koyamada was offered the starring role in the movie.[14] Koyamada plays a Chinese shaolin monk who visits the title character, an American teenager, claiming Wu is the reincarnation of a powerful female warrior and the only person who can prevent an ancient evil spirit from destroying the world. While filming the movie in Auckland, New Zealand, Koyamada pulled off most of his stunts and action sequences choreographed by Koichi Sakamoto, who also had previously worked with Koyamada in the 2001 Power Ranger shows. Koyamada dubbed his character for Japanese audiences as well as promoted the movie in Japanese magazines and on television shows in Japan.

While appearing on the Disney Channel Games since 2006 for three years, Koyamada was featured on Disney shows and commercials made for Japanese audiences by Walt Disney Japan. In 2006, Koyamada starred and executive produced the Japanese feature documentary movie called Wine Road of the Samurai (2006), filmed in Egypt, France and Japan and nationally distributed by Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and other 28 affiliated TV stations in Japan.[15]

Koyamada appeared in the 20th Century Fox drama feature film Constellation (2007), director by Jordan Walker-Pearlman.[16]

Koyamada starred in and produced the action adventure film Good Soil (2007), written and directed by Craig Shimahara which premiered in limited theaters and DVDs.[17]

Koyamada starred as Seinen Makibi in a Japanese two-hour Broadway style stage production called Ai No Shizuku (2010) at the opening ceremony of The 25th National Cultural Festival Okayama 2010. The play, attended by the Crown Prince Naruhito was nationally televised through NHK. The production was produced by Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan and Okayama Prefecture Government in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The National Cultural Festival, which is the Japan's largest cultural event is annually produced by federal and prefectural governments of Japan.[18] In 2013, he starred and produced the new web series called Heart of the Dragon as John Watanabe, directed by Jeff McDonald and written by James West II.[19]

Koyamada starred and produced in the new American web series called Heart of the Dragon (2013) as John Watanabe, directed by Jeff McDonald and written by James West II.[20]

Koyamada starred in the American television series The Yokai King (2014-2015) based on the famous Japanese folklore characters called Yōkai about a supernatural legendary hero Ippei who was found by his foster father in a coconut shell on a beach and see nature’s spirits and Yōkai, including Kijimuna invisible to human eyes. He is initially unaware of his supernatural talents and therefore his destiny.


Koyamada has been set to star voice-over, produce and action choreography direct the legendary samurai character Musashi Miyamoto in the upcoming RPG video game called "Reborn", developed by Elemental-Labs, an American video game developer and scheduled to be released worldwide.[21][22][23]

Koyamada is in talk to star in several American feature films.

Koyamada has been represented by the Affirmative Entertainment.

Shinca Entertainment[edit]

Koyamada and his wife Nia Lyte founded Shinca Entertainment to develop and produce entertainment related projects in late 2005. Shinca has developed and produced a television and live streaming talk show named The Nia Lyte Show (2006). Shinca developed several scripts, including a feature film titled Ticker, by Stephen Langford.[24] In 2007, Koyamda produced an American film Good Soil and executive produced a Japanese feature documentary Wine Road of the Samurai (2006). Shinca has partnered with a well-known comic illustrator Travis Moore from DC Comics' Freedom Fighters and Wonder Woman and Nia Lyte to form an American comic company called Laizen Comics to develop and publish American comics in late 2008. An Action and Adventure comic book titled The Dreamhoppers (2010) was created and written by Shin Koyamada, Travis Moore and Nia Lyte and published by Laizen Comics in early 2010. The story is based in New York City and Koyamada is featured as the main character named Ren Matsuo in The Dreamhoppers.[25] Koyamada formed a music label Meter On Records with a Dirty Dancing music composer Erich Bulling and released an American digital music album Movin On (2010).[26] In 2013, he produced the web series called Spirit Fashion (2013), Spirit Art (2013), Spirit Music (2013), Spirit Love (2013) and Spirit Earth (2014), with producers Claudia Hallowell and Nia Lyte and distributed by Spirit Show Network.[27] Koyamada has been officially involved in creating and producing an American comic book adaptation feature film The Dreamhoppers, which is also being developed as animation and video game.[28]

Personal life[edit]


Early efforts[edit]

In 2004, Koyamada began many volunteer works helping nonprofit organizations and the programs including Boys and Girls Club of America and Japan-America Society. He was part of the Disney Channel Games, which supported various charities including Starlight Children's Foundation. In mid-2003, Koyamada was honored with the Gold Key to the City of New Plymouth, New Zealand by the then-Mayor Peter Tennent for his charity efforts in the city. In April 2010, Koyamada joined the Parade of National Cherry Blossom Festival on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets in Washington DC.[29] During his stay in DC, he participated both in the 50th Sakura Matsuri to promote the Japan's 25th National Cultural Festival in Okayama Prefecture with help of the Japan National Tourism Organization of New York and Japan National Bowl as a celebrity judge, which were organized by the Japan-America Society of Washington D.C.[30]

Japan–United States relations[edit]

Koyamada speaking at the Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka in Japan

In March 2012, Koyamada lectured in five Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Okayama for the U.S. Embassy and the Consulate-General of the United States, Tokyo as part of the U.S. State Department’s mission to inspire thousands of aspiring Japanese students to study English and study abroad in the United States and experience American culture.[31] During the tour, they raised over US$22,000.00 to help fund the Operation Tomodachi project to help the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[32]

Upon the successful outcome of the tour, Koyamada has teamed up his KIF Japan with the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo and its consulates to co-organize several joint activities to continue the efforts of empowering the thousands of Japanese young people to study English and study abroad in the American universities and promoting the friendship between US-Japan relations in Japan. Koyamada has voluntarily lectured about pursuing American dreams, studying abroad, importance of charity efforts, entrepreneurship, multicultural experience before thousands of high school and university students at many well-known Japanese universities, including Kansai University, Ritsumeikan University, Okayama University, Seinan Gakuin University, Kindai University, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Okinawa International University.

Koyamada was officially appointed as International Goodwill Ambassador of the Okayama Prefectural Government of Japan by the then-Governor Masahiro Ishii to promote the tourism of Okayama Prefecture and bridge internationally on February 17, 2010.

Koyamada was officially appointed as the Special Ambassador of the Japan America Society of Southern California, founded in 1909 by the Board of Directors to promote the mission and goodwill of the Society, particularly in the fields of entertainment, arts, fashion, and popular media and culture on May 17, 2012.[33]

Koyamada was appointed as the International Ambassador of the Kyoto, Japan by the Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa to promote of introducing the charm of Kyoto and Kyoto brand products to the world on October 1, 2012.[34][35]

In 2013 and 2014, Koyamada invited his actor friends Dylan and Cole Sprouse, the KIF International Ambassadors, to Japan to inspire thousands of Japanese young people to pursue their dreams and goals, promote the importance of a higher education in college and university and the friendship between Japan and US.

In April 2016, Koyamada was officially appointed as Tokyo 2020 Olympics Ambassador of the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF), a national body for Karate in Japan, to introduce Karate to international communities and have Karate in the Olympics.

Koyamada International Foundation[edit]

In 2008, Koyamada International Foundation (KIF) was established by Koyamada and his wife to offer scholarships to youth to learn the importance of respect, honor, courtesy, value and manner through martial arts and active help on global environmental issues, donations and education to underprivileged individual and family and international cultural exchange projects.[36] The mission of KIF is to empower youth to achieve their goals and dreams and promote an Earth-friendly lifestyle.[37] In 2011, KIF raised substantial amounts to aid the victims of the Great East Japan earthquake. Part of KIF's donation initiative also included shipping 20 foot containers filled with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shoes, blankets, water and toys for children to help survivors through those difficult times.Major charity programs of the KIF include 1000 Ways To Give, Disaster Relief Fund, United States Martial Arts Festival[38] and Martial Arts Scholarship.

In conjunction with KIF's aim to continue supporting the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief efforts, the Koyamada International Foundation Japan (KIF Japan) was formed. KIF Japan mainly organizes educational and cross-cultural activities, including lectures, language speaking contests, networking, fundraiser and workshops, to inspire Japanese youth to pursue their own dreams and goals, study English and study abroad as well as help advancing globalization of Japan in partnership with Japanese national and local governments, foreign embassies and its consulates in Japan, national and private universities, junior high and high schools, local nonprofit organizations and corporations.

Dylan and Cole Sprouse have been officially appointed by the KIF as the International Ambassadors and traveled to Japan for the first time to promote the mission of the foundation and the importance of a higher education.

Martial arts[edit]

By 16, Koyamada began to study Keishinkan Karate in Okayama, Japan, in which he was awarded his first degree black belt under Sensei Tadashi Yoshii.[39] After relocating to the United States in 2000, Koyamada began training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for 6 days a week under the Harmonious Fist Chinese Athletic Association. Koyamada specialized in the empty hand form Boot Bo (拔步) and a double broadsword among other 18 Chinese classical weapons in Northern Shaolin. Koyamada competed in six U.S National Martial Arts Competitions in Northern Shaolin over five months and won first place in all but one, and that was a second.[40] In 2005, Koyamada earned san-dan (third degree) black belt in traditional Keishinkan Karate back in Japan. In 2005, Koyamada began in Tae Kwon Do in which he earned the second degree black belt.[41] In 2007, Koyamada began Korean Royal Court Martial Arts and was certified as a first degree black belt in San Francisco in 2008. Koyamada was featured on a cover of Black Belt Magazine in 2004. In 2009, he was invited to an annual Martial Arts Tour of Italy.[42] In 2010, he founded the charity event called "United States Martial Arts Festival" to promote the arts and celebrate the international cultural community. The funds raised in the event fully go to fund its program and the Martial Arts Scholarship program to help youth train in the private martial arts schools.


As actor
Year Title Role Type Notes
2002 Power Rangers Wild Force Agent TV series
2002 Ninja Pays Half My Rent, AA Ninja Pays Half My Rent Black Ninja Film Lead
2003 Last Samurai, TheThe Last Samurai Nobutada Film Lead
2004 Jake 2.0 Shinji Makito TV series Guest starring
2006 Disney Channel Games 2006 Himself TV series Lead, Red Team
2006 Wine Road of the Samurai Narrator, Himself Feature Documentary
2006 Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior Shen TV movie Starring
2007 Disney Channel Games 2007 Himself TV series Lead, Yellow Team
2007 Constellation Film Yoshito
2007 Good Soil Jinbei Masuda Film Starring
2008 Disney Channel Games 2008 Himself TV series Lead, Blue Team
2010 Ai No Shizuku Seinen Makibi TV movie Starring
2013 Heart of the Dragon John Watanabe Web series Starring
2014 The Yokai King Ippei "The Yokai King" TV series Starring
2015 Reborn Musashi Miyamoto Video game Starring (voice-over)
As producer
Year Title Role Type
2006 Wine Road of the Samurai Producer Feature Documentary
2007 Good Soil Executive Producer Film
2012 Spirit Fashion Producer TV Series
2013 Spirit Earth Producer TV Series
2013 Spirit Love Producer TV Series
2013 Spirit Music Producer TV Series
2013 Spirit Art Producer TV Series
2013 Heart of the Dragon Producer Web Series
2013 Reborn Producer Video Game


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  31. ^ ""In the pursuit of American Dream" at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo in 2012". 
  32. ^ ""Hollywood Night" Raises over $22 Thousand for TOMODACHI Initiative". 
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  42. ^ "Applausi insonorizzati ma niente amministrazioni per l’evento di cui si parla in tutta Italia". 

External links[edit]