The former Miss Universe Japan talks to J Select about fashion, modeling, and the difference between men and women
Many, given the opportunity to meet a famous model, might wonder what to talk about, how to break the ice, and what nuggets of information they could potentially glean from such an experience. Most would, of course, have a few stereotypes spring to mind in the run up to such a meeting – some perhaps even unflattering. In some cases, such pre-conceived images may prove true.
Those fortunate enough to sit down and have a lengthy chat with Miss Universe Japan 2009 winner Emiri Miyasaka, however, would leave any such tete-a-tete more than impressed; on both a stereotype-busting and linguistic level. Emiri is a very capable English speaker for the large part (she spent almost a year in California when she was a child), and more than capable of captivating a single individual or multiple listeners when put on the spot – even if the seemingly ever present cameras are hovering nearby.
More into movies than documentaries, fiction than non-fiction tales of derring-do, and late nights as opposed to early mornings, Emiri is now perhaps one of the most famous faces at the now bi-annual Tokyo Girls Collection. She was certainly one of those for whom the screams and shouts of the majority female audience were reserved at during the increasingly popular event that was itself covered in J Select last year.
Her Miss Universe title last year, secured after fending off 3000 other contestants and viewable in part on Emiri’s homepage (see link at foot), not only thrusted her into the Japanese media spotlight (in part courtesy of the Yoshiyuki Ogata design she wore), it also brought about opportunities in the world of advertising and modeling millions of young women can only ever dream about. She is a regular on Japanese domestic television, on SKY Perfec TV (commercials), and will not be disappearing any time soon.
In the months since she stepped down and was replaced by 2010 winner Maiko Itai, Emiri has been very active. Her win even saw her invited to the office of the Prime Minister at the time.
Emiri was kind enough to sit down with J Select and renowned Tokyo fashion photographer Christopher Jue to answer a few more questions. The quickfire warm-ups to throw her off (and avoid many of the standard questions posed in such interviews) saw her announce a preference for pasta over Thai food, the EU over the US (as a travel destination), the weepie Titanic over Austin Powers and – presumably offering one of the reasons for her love of late nights over early mornings highlighted earlier – jazz over hip-hop.
J Select: How did you get into modeling?
Emiri Miyasaka: After I entered Miss Universe in 2009, I thought I would apply but everything just sort of ‘happened’.
JS: In a recent show in Saitama Super Arena (Tokyo Girls Collection) you modeled the popular Lovedrose as well as several other brands, but what do you like to wear when away from the runway?
EM: I like simple clothes. White T-shirts, short jeans… that kind of thing. I also like beach-style clothes. (The outfit worn during the interview was one she took particular delight in explaining – a cardigan tied with a belt, underlining the simplicity comment down to a tee.)
JS: Any styles you feel you really don’t look good in?
EM: I don’t like Lolita fashions and things like that. Frilly accessories or anything too cute or too girly. That’s just not my style. (laughs)
JS: Away from the catwalk or studio, how do you like to spend your free time when not working?
EM: Movies are big for me, as is heading off to the seaside in summer or going for a drive if at all possible, when not too busy.
JS: Do you have any favorite areas in Tokyo to just relax and hang out?
EM: Ebisu is nice. I like Ebisu as somewhere to have dinner, but apart from that…
JS: Can a former Miss Universe Japan just ‘hang out’ or do you get hassled by fans and autograph seekers?
EM: Usually it is OK, there are no major problems. Tokyo is great like that.
Questions on the opportunity to live and work overseas resulted in frank disinterest. Emiri’s “not really” response to the latter of these questions, accompanied by a cute furrowed brow and conviction in her voice, indicated this response to have been one well-pondered long before our meeting. A question I had prepared on Milan and Paris suddenly died a death.
The post-modeling time line question drew an altogether different response, however. Her enthusiastic “get married and have a happy family,” one announcement to watch out for in showbiz reports in years to come.
Throwing a curveball to round out the chat, our “So, when you die… supposing you are reborn, what / who would you like to come back as?” did serve to widen Emiri’s eyes, but was met with a classic, out of left-field answer few would ever have predicted from a one time Miss Universe contestant: “A man.”
She did, having seen more than a few wrinkles appear on the forehead of her interviewer, thankfully follow up with an explanation: “Men can be so frank, unlike women. Socializing with other women or girls can be troublesome. Plus, men can do more – they have wider parameters in which to act.”
This was when Emiri took her iPhone from her changing room to pass along contact details of her agency. An earlier interview Emiri had conducted around the time of her participation in Miss Universe sprang to mind. Her response to a question on possessing a personal motto – “Be appreciative of everyone, everything” – is indicative of her easy-going attitude to life, even if she has previously claimed to be far too serious for her own good, never knowing when to let go.
Japan’s brands, shows and fashion mags are unlikely to let go of this gem any time soon.
Emiri’s official agency page can be seen at www.ibgjapan.com, and her blog viewed in Japanese at http://miyasakaemiri.com/blog/
Born June 16, 1984
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1/2)
Modeling titles to date
Miss International Japan 2008 –
Miss Universe Japan 2009 Winner
Story by Mark Buckton
From J SELECT Magazine, January 2011