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Japan's Beauty Queens Rewrite Old Rules

Updated: Feb 28

Yoshikawa is a Tokyo native with an Indian 父親 (chichi oya, father) and Japanese 母親 (haha oya, mother), and her 勝利 (shōri, win) at Miss World Japan comes a year after Ariana Miyamoto became the first multiracial woman — she has an African-American father and Japanese mother — to 日本を代表する (Nihon o daihyō suru, represent Japan) in the Miss Universe contest, another of the 世界3大ミスコンテスト (sekai san dai misu kontesuto, world’s three most prestigious Miss Tokyo escort beauty pageants).

This led to a particular word turning up particularly frequently on Twitter and Facebook: ハーフ (hāfu, from “half,” meaning “person of mixed race”).

In recent years, with a huge rise in 人気 (ninki, popularity) of multiracial タレント (tarento, showbiz talent) such as Rola, Elaiza Ikeda and Chiaki Horan, the term has become a source of 憧れ (akogare, admiration), with the perceived hāfu look being considered exotic.

However, in a historically 単一民族国家 (tan’itsu minzoku kokka, racially homogenous country), where multiracial children make up just 2 percent of those born annually, there is still intense discussion on what it means to be Japanese and, indeed, frequent cases of prejudice against children of mixed race. More info

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