Who are Yumi Nu’s parents? SI Swim model is related to DJ Steve Aoki

Bruno Cooke May 17, 2022
Who are Yumi Nu’s parents? SI Swim model is related to DJ Steve Aoki
Photo by Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit


Japanese-Dutch recording artist, model and entrepreneur Yumi Nu is among those featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue – who are parents, Kana Grace Nootenboom and Bruce Nu, and how is she related to Steve Aoki?

Yumi Nu’s mother Kana Grace Nootenboom is a family therapist

Kana Nootenboom is, according to a profile in Psychology Today, a marriage and family therapist based in Nevada.

She speaks conversational Japanese and studied at Vanguard University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1989.

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Photo by Brian Killian/WireImage

Nootenboom is also one of the daughters of Benihana founder Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki. According to Parade, she received part of the $50 million inheritance Rocky left when he died in 2008.

For more on her career background, read Kana’s professional bio on the HWG Counselling website here.

Kana got Yumi into modelling from a young age

Kana Grace Nootenboom was in the modelling industry when her daughter Yumi Nu was a young child, the SI model told Vogue last year

“I first became a model as a baby, but I didn’t last very long because I cried a lot!”

“I came back to it when I was 12”, she continued. “Originally it was just something to do – we were living in Maryland and I felt like an outsider.”

But it’s landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. When she received the news, she told the New York Post, she “could not speak”.

“I had full-body chills. I was shaking, I was crying. They really got me good,” Nu said.

Nu’s father Bruce is a ‘creative soul’

Parade writes that Yumi Nu’s father, Bruce, “has been described as a ‘creative soul’”.

The family upped sticks and moved from New Jersey to Maryland, and then to California, while Yumi was still young.

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Other sources claim that Yumi Nu’s father Brent is a former musician who now works in IT.

Yumi Nu’s family connection to DJ Steve Aoki explained

Nu is the niece of Devon Aoki and Steve Aoki. 

Their father Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki sued four of his seven children (Grace, Kevin, Kyle and Echo) in the early 2000s. His lawsuit claimed that the four children “breached their fiduciary duties”.

Devon and Steve have different mothers.

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Rocky told New York Magazine in 2006: “Devon is my favourite daughter and Kyle is my favourite son.” Then (in NY Mag writer Logan Hill’s words) “slapping Kyle soundly on the back” – “But I sue Kyle! I almost put him in jail!”

As the feature also explains, Grace – whom Rocky sued along with Kevin, Kyle and Echo – was born Kana. She now goes by Kana Grace Nootenboom, and is Yumi Nu’s mother.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.