Karakui.com Special: That actor? He’s from Okinawa.

So here’s my companion to that special I did on actresses from Okinawa back in August 2009. This article will feature actors who were born in Okinawa or who have ties to Okinawa — usually a parent or grandparent who is originally from Okinawa. The list of actors may surprise you as you’ve probably seen them before if you follow J-drama. I hope you enjoy it!


  1. In order by oldest to youngest
  2. Photo of actor
  3. Romanized name, real name (if applicable), name in kanji
  4. Stats (e.g. height, weight, etc.)
  5. Tie to Okinawa
  6. Mini biography
  7. Link to Wikipedia and/or DramaWiki article
  8. Attribution for actor’s photo

Kazuki Kitamura (北村 一輝, Kitamura, Kazuki / Real Name: 北村 康, Kitamura, Yasushi) (41)

Born 7/17/69 in Osaka, Osaka, 5’9″ (177 cm). A veteran actor, Kazuki’s mother is from Okinawa and he was born in Osaka. His debut role was in the 1990 Fuji TV drama “Kimochi Ii Koishitai!” and his film debut was 1991’s “Yuki no Concerto.” In 1999 he won his first awards (of many throughout his career) for the films “Minazuki” and “Nihon Kuroshakai Ley Lines.” An interesting bit of trivia is that the actress he’s been in a lot of scenes with is Aya Ueto who also has ties to Okinawa. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via DramaWiki

Gori, Gorie (ゴリ / Real Name: 照屋 年之, Teruya, Toshiyuki) (38)

Born 5/22/72 in Naha, Okinawa, 5’8″ (173 cm). Gori started off in comedy as part of the duo Garage Sale with Hiroki Kawata (also from Okinawa). His acting debut was in the popular television drama “Churasan” in 2001 — playing Eri’s (Ryoko Kuninaka) and Keitatsu’s (Takayuki Yamada — also featured in this list) older brother. He has since appeared in several dramas and films — his latest being the Kazuaki Kiriya directed “Goemon.” In 2009 Gori made his directorial debut with the film “Furimun’s Paradise” which was filmed in Okinawa and co-starred AKINA (formerly of the J-pop group Folder/Folder 5). Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via Gori Kantoku Blog (Gori with singer Rimi Natsukawa)

GACKT (神威 楽斗, Camui, Gackt ) (37)

Born 7/4/73 in Okinawa, raised in Kyoto, 5’11” (180 cm). Better known as a musician (formerly of the visual kei rock band Malice Mizer), his screen debut came in 2003 with the film “Moon Child.” The photo to the left is of his portrayal of Kenshin Uesugi in the NHK Taiga Drama “Fuurin Kazan.” Personally, I’ve found the way he carries himself in his appearances in television shows (mostly music-related shows like “Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ” and “Music Station”) to be very interesting. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via Flickr

Takeshi Kaneshiro (金城 武, Kaneshiro, Takeshi) (37)

Born 10/11/73 in Taipei, Taiwan, 5’10” (178 cm). Takeshi’s father is from Okinawa and his mother is Taiwanese. He made his debut in the 1993 Hong Kong film “Executioners” and has also starred in Japanese films and TV dramas in addition to his work in China — he’s fluent in Chinese and Japanese. My favorite film of his has to be 1994’s Wong Kar-wai directed “Chungking Express.” Of course, his recent films like “Red Cliff” and “House of Flying Daggers” were quite impressive too. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via Flickr

Yusuke Kamiji (上地 雄輔, Kamiji, Yuusuke) (31)

Born 4/18/79 in Yokosuka, 5’10” (179.5 cm). Yusuke’s grandfather is from Miyakojima and his father is a member of the Yokosuka city council. Interesting trivia about Yusuke is that he played in the same high school baseball team as Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) and his blog is listed on the Guinness Book of World Records. Most known for his appearances on variety shows as well as a musician (both solo and with the trio Shuchishin) his screen debut came with the 1999 J-drama “LxIxVxE” which also starred fellow Uchinanchu Eriko Imai, Hitoe Arakaki, and Ryoko Kuninaka. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via DramaWiki

Hiroki Narimiya (成宮 寛貴, Narimiya, Hiroki / Real Name: 平宮 博重, Narimiya, Hiroshige) (28)

Born 9/14/82 in Tokyo, 5’8″ (172 cm). Although born in Tokyo, both Hiroki’s parents are from Okinawa. Hiroki (his nickname is Nari) made his debut in the 2001 film “Oboreru Sakana” and in 2002, appeared in the drama “Toshiie to Matsu.” He’s also known as a fashion leader and his hairstyle has been dubbed “Narimiya Hair.” In private, he hangs out with Goro Inagaki from SMAP and actor Toma Ikuta (both Goro and Toma are from Johnny & Associates, Inc). Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via DramaWiki

Takayuki Yamada (山田 孝之, Yamada, Takayuki) (27)

Born 10/20/83 in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima, 5’6″ (169 cm). Born in Kagaoshima, Takayuki’s mother is from Okinawa. Perhaps best known to fans of Okinawa for the popular NHK drama series “Churasan” in which he played the role of Ryoko Kuninaka’s little brother Keitatsu, he’s also played a number of different roles (I tend to think of him as the Johnny Depp of Japan for the many quirky roles he takes on) in television and film. Although he shares the same surname as actress Yu Yamada and her brother Shintaro (see below), he’s not related to them. That said, he has two sisters who are in showbiz. His oldest sister (he’s the youngest and only boy in the family), Kaori Tsubaki, is an actress and his older sister, SAYUKI, is a singer. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via Flickr

Shintaro Yamada (山田 親太朗, Yamada, Shintarou) (24)

Born 7/10/86 in Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa, 5’10” (178 cm). Perhaps best known as the younger brother of the multitalented Yu Yamada, it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses as an actor (made his TV debut in 2007’s “Yamada Taro Monogatari”) and as a singer in the special variety show unit Saataa Andagii. Like many other artists from Okinawa who’ve made it big in Japan, he’s also attended the Okinawa Actors School. So he has a famous older sister and his mom, Mikako, is a former Miss Okinawa. Wow. Works: DramaWiki. Profile: Wikipedia.

Photo via DramaWiki

If there’s an actor that I’m missing please let me know in the comments. Oh, and if you find any errors or want to add anything, you can either leave a comment below or shoot me an email via our website’s contact form. Nifee!

4 thoughts on “Karakui.com Special: That actor? He’s from Okinawa.”

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