Meet Yuta Watanabe's famous wife as Japanese star becomes unlikely Nets hero

Joshua Rogers November 21, 2022
Meet Yuta Watanabe's famous wife as Japanese star becomes unlikely Nets hero
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

We take a look at Yuta Watanabe’s wife Akiko Kuji as the Japanese star emerges as an unlikely hero for the Brooklyn Nets this season.

The Brooklyn Nets have a Big Three made up of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons. However, it is Japanese star Yuta Watanabe who is quietly going about his business and having an incredible year.

Watanabe was born on October 13, 1994 in Yokohama, Kanagawa Japan to a basketball family. His mother, Kumi, played for the Chanson V-Magic and the Japan women’s national team. His father played for professional team Kumagai Gumi Bruins.

The 28-year-old small forward attended George Washington University. He was the first Japanese-born player on an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship.

He played for the Nets in the Summer League, but it was the Grizzlies who gave him his first professional contract in 2018. In 2020 he signed with the Raptors and played in 88 games, averaging 4.3 points per game before finally winding up back at the Nets.

Watanabe leads the NBA in three point percentage

Watanabe was picked up by the Nets this year for a non-guaranteed minimum agreement, where he has emerged as an unlikely star.

He currently has a 57.1% three point percentage and an effective field goal percentage of 76.6% this season, and leads the league three point percentage.

To put that into context, Steph Curry has a three point percentage of 44.3% this season.

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Meet Yuta Watanabe’s famous wife

Yuta Watanabe’s wife is Akiko Kuji, who is famous in her own right. Akiko was born in Oshu, Japan, on July 13, 1994, and is a television announcer, fashion model, and actress.

Akiko got into the entertainment industry in 2013, and debuted in television drama in Kin Kyori Renai: Season Zero a year later.

She then became a model for Non-No, a Japanese women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine before becoming a Fuji Television announcer in 2017. She stayed with the company for five years and is now a freelance announcer.

The couple announced their engagement and marriage earlier this year

The couple announced their engagement on Instagram in 2022. They posted a photo of them together smiling on top of the Raptors logo at centre court at Scotiabank Arena.

“We hope to continue to support each other and have a lot of fun together,” Watanabe and Kuji said. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved and those who continue to support us with their warm support, and we look forward to your continued guidance and encouragement as we strive to do even more to earn your support in the future.”

The couple met in 2019 during an interview on Fuji Television, and reportedly married this year.

Akiko actually has a bigger social media following than Yuta. On Instagram she has 455k followers compared to Yuta’s 283k followers.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.