Many people do not realize that from 1959 until now in 2015, there have been at least 12 feature-length movies made with Japanese and Black couples or Blasians. Many of these movies were produced in Japan, and even the ones which were produced in the US, often had extensive involvement from Japanese movie professionals or were partially shot in Japan. While most Asian countries only have a handful of movies with Blasian couples or Blasians, Japan has clearly been far more receptive and curious about Japanese and Black relationships. This does not necessarily mean that Japan has been totally accepting of Japanese and Black relationships, as many of the movies illustrate, but compared to other Asian countries, it does point to a certain interest in Japanese and Black relationships and fewer barriers to complete these movies. Japan has also attracted a small number of Black actors who live in Japan, speak fluent Japanese, have married Japanese women, and have had successful acting careers in Japan such as Dante Carver, Bobby Ologun, Chuck Johnson, and a few of the Black mixed martial artists who live in Japan such as Bob Sapp and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (who has since moved back to the US with his Japanese wife). Korea on the other hand currently only has one prominent Black actor living in Korea making a career from acting, Sam Okyere, Ghanaian. Okyere who speaks fluent Korean, recently co-starred in Korea’s first feature-length movie with a Korean and Black couple – see the post about 나의 절친 악당들 (Intimate Enemies). The Philippines which generally is one of the more accepting places in Asia for Black and Asian relationships, rarely has Black actors in Filipino movies in any capacity, let alone in romantic relationships. Blakdyak and Elizabeth Ramsey used to appear in Filipino movies, but both of their acting careers are in decline at the moment. Finally regarding China, while some Chinese and Black couples have appeared in movies made outside of China, very few have appeared in any Chinese movies in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. So far, we have only found two Hong Kong movies with Chinese and Black couples – Rumble in the Bronx in 1995, and Silver Hawk in 2004. Japan clearly stands out in Asia for both the number of movies with Japanese and Black couples or Blasians, and the time span over which these movies have been made since 1959.
Below is the listing of the 12 movies with Japanese and Black couples or Blasians in chronological order. The descriptions are purposely light in order not to spoil the movies in case you are able to view the movies at some point. For those who want deeper reviews of the movies, just Google them. While pictures of the movies are shown below, movie trailers, if they exist, can be found at Asian and Black Couples In The Movies. Also for the movies that are currently available on Amazon either by streaming or by DVD / physical media, we have included the Amazon link below. Note that some of the titles are in limited supply on Amazon and some are only available in Japanese with no English subtitles.
12 Movies With Japanese and Black Couples or Blasians
- キクとイサム (Kiku to Isamu) – 1959 / Japan
Producer: Daitô Eiga Production Company
Director: Tadashi Imai
Writer: Yôko Mizuki
Key Actors: Emiko Takahashi, Japanese/Black and George Okunoyama, Japanese/Black
Emiko Takahashi and George Okunoyama both Japanese and Black Blasians, play a brother and sister in this film that explores the challenges of growing up Blasian in post war Japan.
Amazon link for Kiku to Isamu
- 人間の証明 (Proof of the Man) – 1977 / Japan / USA
AKA Ningen no shômei
Producer: Haruki Kadokawa
Director: Jun’ya Satô
Writers: Zenzô Matsuyama, Seiichi Morimura
Key Actors: Robert Earl Jones, African American (the father of James Earl Jones), Mariko Okada, Japanese, and Joe Yamanaka, Caribbean/Japanese
Genre: Crime / Mystery
The movie is an adaptation of a bestselling mystery novel in Japan and several versions of the movie have been made, but this is the original version. In one version, the Blasian character is replaced with a Eurasian character and actor (the whitewashed version), and in another version, the Blasian character is retained, but played by a Japanese/Hispanic actor who does a poor job of “acting Black”.
Amazon link for Proof of the Man
- Bed Time Eyes (ベッドタイムアイズ) – 1987 / Japan
Producer: Hidehiro Ito
Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro
Writers: Rio Kishida, Amy Yamada
Key Actors: Michael Wright, African American (The Five Heartbeats) and Kanako Higuchi, Japanese
Genre: Romantic drama
The movie is an adaptation of Amy Yamada’s bestselling novel of the same name in Japan. Yamada, who was also married to an African American, wrote several controversial novels about Japanese and Black relationships in Japan. She was viewed as ahead of her time by many.
Amazon link to Bedtime Eyes (VHS)
- Struggle and Success: The African American Experience in Japan – 1993 / USA
Producer: Reggie Life
Director: Reggie Life
Writers: Reggie Life, June Cross
Key Actors: Rodney Johnson, African American, and his wife, Wakako Johnson, Japanese. Ronnie Rucker, African American and his wife, Yoko Rucker, Japanese.
Filmmaker Reggie Life, AKA Regge Life, who was previously a director on The Cosby Show, examines the experiences of 13 different African Americans in Japan. Two of them, Rodney Johnson and Ronnie Rucker, are married to Japanese women.
- Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children – 1995 / USA
Producer: Yoshiyasu Akiyama
Director: Reggie Life
Key Actors: Toshikazu Kiyonaga, African American / Japanese, Velina Houston, African American / Japanese, Curtis Rooks, African American / Japanese, Tokiwa Taft, African American / Japanese, Beverly Winfrey, African American / Japanese, and several others.
This film takes an in-depth look at the lives of biracial children of Japanese and Americans who live in both America and Japan. The documentary interviews over 40 biracial Japanese and American people, about half of whom are African American and Japanese.
- The Art of War – 2000 / USA / Canada
Producers: Don Carmody, Wesley Snipes
Director: Christian Duguay
Writers: Wayne Beach, Simon Barry
Key Actors: Wesley Snipes, African American, Marie Matiko, Japanese / Chinese / Filipino
Genre: Action / Adventure / Crime
Wesley Snipes, who is married to a Korean lady in real life, is married to Marie Matiko’s character in this action packed movie.
Amazon link to The Art of War
- Choice of Weapons – 2002 / USA
Producer: Christopher Dalrymple
Director: Christopher Dalrymple
Key Actor: Peter Westbrook, African American / Japanese
Documentary following Peter Westbrook, American and international fencing champion as he coaches the next generation of minority world-class fencers.
- The Harimaya Bridge (Harimaya-bashi) – 2009 / USA
Producers: Danny Glover, John Kim, Naoshi Yoda
Director: Aaron Woolfolk
Writer: Aaron Woolfolk
Key Actors: Victor Grant, African American, and Saki Takaoka, Japanese
An African American father travels to Japan and discovers secrets of his son’s life in Japan.
Amazon link for The Harimaya Bridge
- Hafu: The Mixed Race Experience in Japan – 2013 / Japan / Ghana / Mexico
Producer: Megumi Nishikura
Directors: Megumi Nishikura, Lara Perez Takagi
Key Actor: David Mitsuaki Yano, Japanese / Ghanaian
Documentary of Japanese mixed race individuals, hafus, which includes David Yano, a Blasian with a Japanese father and Ghanaian mother.
- Moon Dream (ムーン・ドリーム) – 2013 / Japan
Producers: Keisuke Endô, Bobby Ologun
Directors: Bobby Ologun
Writers: Bobby Ologun, Takako Nakamura
Key Actors: Bobby Ologun, Nigerian Japanese (naturalized) and Nao Minamisawa, Japanese
Genre: Biography / Comedy
Comedic autobiographical movie of Bobby Ologun’s life in Japan.
Amazon link to Moon Dream
- Karaage USA (カラアゲ★USA) – 2014 / Japan
Producer: Hiroshi Fujikura
Director: Naoki Segi
Writer: Kodai Yamada
Key Actors: Dante Carver, African American, and Ai Takahashi, Japanese
A Japanese woman returns home to Japan with her African American step-daughter.
Amazon link to Karaage Usa
- Pancakes – 2014 / USA
Producers: Dante Carver, Kevin Iwashina
Director: Yasu Shibuya
Writer: Yasu Shibuya
Key Actors: Dante Carver, African American, and Yuri Nakamura, Japanese
A light hearted romantic comedy / drama set in Tokyo.
While these are the 12 most relevant Japanese and Black movies that we could find, there are other movies featuring Japanese and Black couples or Blasians. The 1965 Japanese movie, Black Snow, by Tetsuji Takechi featured an Asian and Black couple. The movie was considered controversial in Japan at the time since it was one of the early Japanese “pink film” or “pinku eiga” movies which contained some nudity and erotic themes, but generally was not considered pornographic. Also the 2013 documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, focused on long time backup singers who sung backup for major stars, but seldom became stars in their own rights. One of the many backup singers they cover in some level of detail is Judith Hill, African American / Japanese, a backup singer for Michael Jackson, who despite having a good showing on The Voice, is still seeking her big breakout. She is one of my favorite artists and her music is really worth a listen if you have never heard her – see this Amazon link for Judith Hill.
Please let us know if you know of other movies featuring Japanese and Black couples or Blasians.