Yū Aoi

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Yu Aoi
Aoi Yu at Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2017 (40170394542).jpg
Native name 蒼井 優
Born (1985-08-17) August 17, 1985 (age 32)
Kasuga, Fukuoka
Years active 1999–present
Agent Itoh Co.
Website www.itoh-c.com/aoi

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.[1]


Early career[edit]

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.

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.[5] She has also appeared in the films such as Vampire[6] and Rurouni Kenshin.[7]

She appeared in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2012 television drama Penance.[8]


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[9]
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
Yamato Taeko Japanese Academy award for Best Supporting Actress[10]
2006 Honey and Clover Hagumi Hanamoto Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards[11]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards [12]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award[13]
Best Actress at the Yokohama Film Festival[14]
Hula Girls Kimiko Tanikawa Best Supporting Actress award at the Japanese Academy Awards[10]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards [11]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards[12]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award[13]
Best Actress at the Yokohama Film Festival[14]
Best New Talent at the Nikkan Sports Film Award's[15]
Tekkon Kinkreet White (voice)
Rainbow Song Kana Sato Best Supporting Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards[11]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards[12]
Best Supporting Actress award at the Mainichi Film Award[13]
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[16]
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 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 [17]
2015 The Case of Hana & Alice Tetsuko "Alice" Arisugawa (voice) Prequel of Hana and Alice.[18]
Journey to the Shore Tomoko
2016 Over Fence Satoshi Tamura [19]
Japanese Girls Never Die Haruko Azumi
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 Best Actress award at the Hochi Film Awards
Best Actress award at the Yokohama Film Festival
Best Actress award at the Nikkan Sports Film Awards
Best Actress award at the Kinema Junpo Awards
Best Actress award at the Japan Academy Prize
Best Actress award at the Osaka Cinema Festival
2018 What a Wonderful Family! 3: My Wife, My Life Noriko Mamiya
Penguin Highway Lady (voice)


  • 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[20]
  • Hello Hari Nezumi (2017), Setsuko Kawai


  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. ^ 第14回日本映画プロフェッショナル大賞 [14th Japan Professional Movie Awards] (in Japanese). Japanese Professional Movie Awards. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  10. ^ a b 第30回日本アカデミー賞優秀作品 [30th Japan Academy Awards] (in Japanese). Japan Academy Prize Association. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  11. ^ a b c 報知映画賞 歴代受賞一覧 [List of the Hochi Film Awardee] (in Japanese). The Hochi Shimbun. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  12. ^ a b c 第80回キネマ旬報ベストテン [The 80th Kinema Shunpō Best 10] (in Japanese). Kinema-Junposha.Co.Ltd. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  13. ^ a b c 第69回毎日映画コンクール [The 69th Mainichi Film Award] (in Japanese). The Mainichi Newspapers. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  14. ^ a b 第28回ヨコハマ映画祭 2006年日本映画個人賞 [28th Yokohama Film Festival] (in Japanese). Yokohama Film Festival website. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  15. ^ "歴代受賞者と受賞作品 - 日刊スポーツ映画大賞・石原裕次郎賞". nikkansports.com. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  16. ^ "Asian Film Awards 2009". Asianfilmawards.org. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  17. ^ "Cast". Haru o Seotte official website (in Japanese). Toho. 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Kevin Ma (October 17, 2014). "Iwai Shunji to direct first anime feature". Film Business Asia. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  19. ^ オーバー・フェンス (in Japanese). eiga.com inc. Retrieved 2015-10-30. 
  20. ^ 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. 

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