Asian Hall of Fame – Class of 2004


Born in 1959 to Japanese-American parents, Yuji Okumoto grew up in Los Angeles.

After graduating from Hollywood High School, Okumoto attended Cal State University in Fullerton. It was at Cal State that he took his first acting class, which led to his involvement with several theater companies. During a performance of Arthur Kopit’s play Indians, he was approached and signed by an agent.

Okumoto’s landed a job with the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless before moving on to the big screen. His first feature film roles were in the 1985 teen comedies Real Genius with Val Kilmer and Better off Dead with John Cusack.

Okumoto’s breakout role came in 1985 when he was cast to play Chozen, an Okinawan gang leader in The Karate Kid, Part II. The nemesis to Ralph Macchio’s character, Chozen was a classic villain.

Okumoto has worked on over 30 films and made over 30 television appearances, and the list continues to grow. His feature film credits include: Pearl Harbor, Johnny Tsunami, American Yakuza, Contact, The
Game, The Truman Show, True Believer, I’ll Remember April, The Crow – Wicked Prayer, Big Momma’s House 2, and the blockbuster summer hit of 2010 Inception. He has also appeared in television shows such as the CBS series The Unit and The Mentalist as well as the long-running Fox hit Bones.

Currently Okumoto resides in Seattle, with his wife Angie and three daughters, and owns and operates the restaurant Kona Kitchen.