Celebrity Japanese and Black Couples – Past and Present

Fitness guru and Tae Bo creator, Billy Blanks, married his Japanese wife Tomoko Sato Blanks when he was 53 and she was 39 and he legally adopted her two kids from another relationship. They also have one daughter together.

This list will include all known celebrity Japanese and Black couples, past and present, even minor celebrities, and will include both full and partial Japanese / Black couples. In the US, Japanese and Black married couples are the third most prevalent Asian and Black marriage combination after Filipino / Black and Korean / Black marriages. The 2010 census showed that 14% of all Asian / Black marriages were with Japanese. Based on the celebrity couples shown here, the Japanese / Black breakup rate is ~19% which is much lower than the US divorce rate of ~60%, and even lower than the Japanese divorce rate of ~36%. The Japanese / Black breakup rate is also lower than any other celebrity Asian and Black combination. Please let us know of other Japanese / Black celebrity couples that should be on this list or known changes to the couples below and we will update the list. Listings for other celebrity Asian and Black couples are published separately and can be found at the end of this article. Enjoy!

Celebrity Japanese and Black Couples Listing

1. Howie Williams and Tye Williams
howie williams tye

Howie Williams, African American, is a former professional American football player who played for the NFL Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and the Oakland Raiders from 1962 to 1969. He started in Superbowl II for the Oakland Raiders. In the mid 1950s, he served in the Air Force,  and returned to the US with his Japanese wife, Tye Williams. They have been married since 1958 and have one child together.

2. Wayne Shorter and Teruko “Irene” Nakagami

Wayne Shorter is an African American jazz saxophonist and composer who is considered a master of the soprano saxophone. Many of Shorter’s compositions have become jazz standards and earned worldwide recognition, including 10 Grammy Awards. He was a member of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, before he co-founded the jazz fusion band Weather Report. He has recorded over 20 albums as a bandleader. He was married to Teruko “Irene” Nakagami, Japanese, in 1961 and they separated in 1964 with one daughter together.

3. Billy Dee Williams and Teruko Nakagami Williams
Billy D William Teruko Nakagami

Billy Dee Williams is a legendary African American actor, artist, singer, writer, and sex symbol. He is well known for his roles in many movies including Star Wars,  Brian’s Song, Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, and Batman. In 1972, he married his 3rd wife, Teruko Nakagami, Japanese. They have one daughter together and both of them had one child from prior marriages. They separated in 1993, but reconciled four years later in 1997 and have stayed together since.

4. Robert “Pee Wee” Hill and Michiko Hill

Robert “Pee Wee” Hill, African American, and his wife, Michiko Hill, Japanese are well known LA area funk and jazz musicians and arrangers. Pee Wee plays saxophone, and Michiko plays piano and they are best known for their album Joy Express. peewee_michiko-3-BWThey are also the parents to Judith Hill, former Michael Jackson backup singer, and a breakout artist from the show The Voice. They have been performing together since the ’70s.

5. Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani

The Reverend Cecil Williams, African American, is a community leader, author, and the retired pastor emeritus of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, California. Under his leadership, Glide Memorial became a 10,000-member congregation of all races, ages, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Glide is the largest provider of social services in San Francisco, serving over three thousand meals a day plus numerous other social services. His wife, Janice Mirikitani Williams, Japanese-American Sansei, is a poet and community activist. They have been married since 1982.

6. Lance E. Lee and Dr. Keiko Lee
lance lee keiko lee1_e

Lance E. Lee, African American, is one of the most respected businessmen in Japan where he has lived since the mid 70s. Lance has also held the very prestigious roles of President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and President of the Tokyo American Club. Lance owns and operates two successful businesses in Japan, IGC Japan Ltd. / I Can Gymnastics, which focuses on gymnastics and motor coordination training, and The Resource Group Japan Ltd., an international consulting and medical equipment business. Lance is married to Dr. Keiko Lee, one of Japan’s most re­spected doctors, and they have four sons together.

7. Barack Obama and Sheila Miyoshi Jager

As reported in the book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, and by several other notable media outlets, prior to marrying Michelle, Barack, biracial AfrAm / White, dated Sheila Miyoshi Jager, biracial Japanese / Dutch in the late 80s. Sheila is a professor who specializes in Korean history and studies. Sheila reports in the book that Barack proposed marriage to her two times – once in 1986 and once in 1988 just before he moved to attend Harvard Law School. Reportedly, the relationship drew to an end by the early 90s after Barack met Michelle.

8. Matef Harmachis and Diane Fujino
Matef Harmachis Diane Fujino

Dr. Diane C. Fujino is Professor and Chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her teaching and research focus on Japanese American history, Asian American activism, Afro-Asian solidarity, and critical studies of race/class/gender/nation. Dr. Fujino’s books include: Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life; Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama; and Wicked Theory, Naked Practice: A Fred Ho Reader (as Editor). Dr. Fujino is also one of the leading researchers on Asian American and interracial relationships. She is married to Matef Harmachis, African American, a former journalist and current high school teacher who is active with the All African People’s Revolutionary Party. They have two children together.

9. Amy Yamada and Craig Douglas (not pictured)
eimi yamada2

Amy Yamada (山田 詠美 Yamada Eimi) born in Tokyo as Futaba Yamada (山田 双葉 Yamada Futaba), is a popular but controversial contemporary Japanese writer who is most famous for her stories that address issues of sexuality, racism, and interracial marriage, topics not typically discussed openly in Japanese society. Many of her books feature Japanese and Black couples. Her first book, Bed Time Eyes, despite its controversy due to depicting an interracial relationship, sex, and violence – themes not common in 1985 Japan – won the Bungei Prize, a highly acclaimed Japanese literary award. It was also developed into a feature length Japanese movie in 1987, becoming the first Japanese film to star a Black and Asian couple. In total, she has won 7 literary awards for her books. In 1990, Amy married Craig Douglas, an African American Air Force sergeant stationed in Japan and they lived outside of Tokyo. They divorced after 7 years of marriage.

10. Taumi Daniels and Rene Cabral-Daniels, MPH, JD

Rene Cabral-Daniels, Cape Verdean, is one of the up and coming CEOs in the US healthcare industry. Rene’s family hails from Cape Verde, an African nation on an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, and her heritage is a mix of African/Portuguese. Rene’s impressive healthcare executive and legal experience means that we have only just heard the beginning of her success. Rene’s husband, Taumi, Japanese/Scottish, is a NASA researcher and they have been married for 26 years and have 3 beautiful daughters together. We love the way that Rene and Taumi embrace all of their multicultural diversity – they are the definition of a melting pot in America! We absolutely adore this family and wish them continued success and blessings for this lifetime and beyond!

11. John Ridley and Gayle Yoshida Ridley
john ridley wife

John Ridley, IV, is an American screenwriter, film director, novelist, television show runner and writer best known for 12 Years a Slave. He won an Academy Award in 2013 for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave. He has been married since 1998 to Gayle Yoshida Ridley, Japanese, a script coordinator and professional gambler.

12. Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons

Russell Simmons is the African American hip hop mogul who created Def Jam and many other business enterprises. From 1998 to 2006, he was married to Kimora Lee Simmons, biracial Japanese and African American, and he really helped to launch her career. Kimora is a former model and she took over Baby Phat, an urban fashion company after Russell Simmons stepped aside, and she was CEO/Creative Director through 2010. Since 2011 she has been the President & Creative Director for JustFab. They had two daughters together. Note also there is debate about whether Kimora’s mother (who was born in Korea and adopted in the US) is Japanese or Korean. Kimora publicly says that her  mother is 100% Japanese, but several sources indicate that her mother is more likely 100% Korean or half Korean, half Japanese.

13. Wayne Brady and Mandie Taketa
Premiere Of Paramount's "Nacho Libre" - Arrivals

Wayne Brady, is an African American actor, singer, comedian, and television personality, best known for his work on the comedy television series, Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Wayne Brady Show. He was married to Japanese dancer, Mandie Taketa, from 1999 to 2008 and they have one daughter together. See more about Wayne and Mandie in this post.

14. Taku Hirano and Arthel Neville

Arthel Neville is a popular American journalist and TV news anchor. She is African American and Creole. Arthel is the daughter of Art Neville, a very well known New Orleans funk musician. Her husband, Taku Hirano is a percussionist /musician and is Japanese. They have been married since 2001.

15. Quinton Jackson and Yuki Naname Jackson

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is an African American mixed martial artist, professional wrestler, kick boxer, and actor. He is the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jackson lived in Japan for several years in the early 2000s and he is fluent in Japanese and Vietnamese. He is married to Yuki Jackson, Japanese, and they have two kids together.

16. Bobby Ologun and Kyoko Konda
bobby ologun1

Bobby Ologun is a popular Nigerian-born TV personality and mixed martial artist living in Japan. He is married to a Japanese woman, Kyoko Konda and they have 4 children together. In 2007, he became a naturalized Japanese citizen and took his wife’s last name, so he is now also known as Bobby Konda. He also produced a movie about his life in Japan called, Moon Dream, which was released in Japan in 2013 – see more at Asian and Black Couples in the Movies.

17. Djimon Hounsou and Kimora Lee Simmons
kimora djimon

Kimora was with Djimon Hounsou, who is Beninese, from 2007 to 2012 and they have one child together. They had a Beninese commitment ceremony, however they were never legally married in the US. Djimon has appeared in Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson music videos as well as several movies and is best known for his roles in the movies Gladiator, Amistad, and Blood Diamond.

18. Billy Blanks and Tomoko Sato

Billy Blanks is an African American fitness guru, martial artist, actor, and inventor of the Tae Bo video exercise series. His wife, Tomoko Sato Blanks is a language interpreter and she is Japanese. They have been married since 2009 and have one child together.

19. Dante Carver and Akiko Matsumoto

Dante Carver is an African American actor who lives and works in Japan. He was previously voted by Japanese viewers as the most popular actor in a commercial in Japan. His wife Akiko Matsumoto Carver is a model and is Japanese. They have been married since 2010 and have one child together. Dante has also produced Japanese movies and appeared in Japanese movies – see more at Asian and Black Couples in the Movies.

20. Brandon Marshall and Michi Nogami Marshall

Brandon Marshall is an African American NFL wide receiver for the New York Jets. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2006 and has also played for the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. In 2009, Marshall set an NFL record for receptions in a game with 21 catches, and he is one of only five players in NFL history to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons. In 2010, Brandon married Michi Nogami Marshall (Michi Leshase Nogami-Campbell), biracial African American and Japanese, and a former forensic behavioral specialist.

21. Andrew Colas and Lindsay Kagawa Colas

Andrew Colas, Haitian American, and his wife, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Japanese American are another power couple in the Blasian world. Andrew is the President & COO of Colas Construction, and Lindsay Kagawa Colas is one of the premier women’s sports agents and SVP of Action Sports & Olympics at Wasserman Media Group where she oversees the careers of many elite Olympic and WNBA athletes. Andrew and Lindsay have been married since 2011 and we wish them continued success and many blessings!

22. Yohei Kamiya and Tara Kamiya

From the blogging world, Tara Kamiya, African American, is a blogger, youtuber, and housewife who lives in Japan with her Japanese husband, Yohei Kamiya, who is a chef in Nagoya, Japan. Her blog, discusses life and cross cultural marriage in Japan. They have three children together. See Tara’s guest blog post at ABC – You Know You Have Been Living In Japan When…

23. Maurice Jones-Drew and Ashley Hamasaki

Maurice Jones-Drew is an African American running back with the NFL Oakland Raiders. He previously played with the Jacksonville Jaguars and is a 3 times pro bowler who led the NFL in rushing yards in 2011. He is married since 2012 to Ashley Hamasaki who is a mix of Japanese and Hawaiian and they have 3 kids together.

24. Chris Hart and Hitomi Fukunaga
chris hart hitomi fukunaga1

Chris Hart  (クリス・ハート Kurisu Hāto), is an African-American singer who has gained popularity as a J-pop artist in Japan. After developing an interest in Japan following a Japanese language course, from his teens until the time he moved to Tokyo at age 24, Chris performed in the US in Japanese as the lead vocalist for the band Nikita w/Metallic Beasts, before starting his own solo rock band, LYV. During his time as LYV, Hart wrote all lyrics and music in Japanese. After moving to Japan, Chris was noticed by a Japanese television executive and invited to compete on the Japanese singing competition Nodo Jiman Za! World and he won the competition. His singing career in Japan skyrocketed after this and he has since been named the best new Japanese artist of the year. In 2013, he married his frequent singing partner, Hitomi Fukunaga (福永瞳), Japanese, who is a native of Osaka and also a Japanese singer and freelance writer.

25. Chuck Johnson and Mari Tobita Johnson
chuck mari johnson1

Chuck Johnson, African American, is an international film actor, stuntman, martial artist, stunt choreographer, and author living in Japan since 2003. He is best known for his work in Godzilla: Final Wars, but he has an impressive array of film, TV, and video game credits. He has earned ranks in several forms of martial arts including Taekwondo, Capoeira, Judo, Karate, Kobudo, Wing Chun Kung Fu, Hapkido, Tai Chi, Hanmudo, and Krav Maga, and he has won many martial arts competitions. He is also extensively trained in the art of Katana Tate (Japanese theatrical swordplay). He is married to Mari Tobita Johnson, a Japanese entrepreneur with a business (Nine-Twelve) focused on helping Japanese expats find hard to locate clothing in Japan. They first met in 2008, married in 2013, and have one son together.

 26. Pelé and Marcia Aoki
Pele Marcia Aoki

The legendary Pelé, a retired Brazilian professional soccer play, is widely regarded to be the world’s greatest soccer player of all time. He is the only player to have ever won 3 different world cups and in his career he scored 541 goals, more than any other soccer player ever. In 2014, at the age of 73, he married Marcia Cibele Aoki, a Japanese Brazilian import export entrepreneur – Brazil, by the way, has more Japanese people than any other country outside of Japan.

27. OTike and Doka
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Moses Okonoboh, AKA OTike, Nigerian American, is a popular Afro Pop artist. OTike released his first collaboration album with his cousin and hip hop / R&B artist, Ofure, in 2012. Then in 2014, OTike released his first solo EP called “Explicit” in the Afro Pop / Naija genre. In September 2015, OTike released a very catchy new single with a video called “Omosade”. Since 2014, OTike has been dating the beautiful Doka, who is Japanese. Many blessings and continued success to this lovely couple!

Listings for other celebrity Asian and Black couples are published separately and can be found in these links:

Also see more everyday Japanese and Black couples here and feel free to share your thoughts about this blog post on the Asian Black Couples Forums at this link.




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