Bijin means beautiful women in Japanese and it is believed that there are many bijins in Akita. So because of this, the word Akita bijin usually comes to mind when Japanese people think of Akita and here’s why.
More than other prefectures, Akita is believed to have the highest number of beautiful women. Many Akita women are said to have fairer skin (which is considered more attractive in Japan) than women in other areas of Japan. This is attributed to the climate of Akita which receives fewer daylight hours, resulting in less exposure to UV rays. In addition, Akita is an area which is very cold and snowy in winter so most people stay at home having less exposure to sunlight. There was a study done in the 1960s which revealed that the whiteness of women’s skin of Akita Bijins was 29.6% whereas the average is 22%. Other than white skin, the typical Akita beauties are said to have rounded faces.
A well-known Akita bijin is Ono no Komachi, a poet in the early Heian period who is said to be exceptionally beautiful. Her beauty is so celebrated that the word komachi has been used to mean feminine beauty!
Modern examples of Akita beauties are Nozomi Sasaki and Natsuki Kato, who in 2010, were selected by the Akita Prefectural to become Akita’s Tourism Ambassadors (Akita Bi-no-Kuni Taishi).
Yuzawa City is known to be the birthplace of Ono no Komachi. Every year on the second Sunday of June, the Komachi festival is held at Yuzawa City to celebrate the birth of Ono no Komachi. Seven women don ichime-gasa hats and kimono to present seven of Ono no Komachi’s poems. Since the hats have long veils attached to them, it can be difficult to see the beauty of the women. However, that may be the Japanese preference for traditional beauty which is elegant and doesn’t require ‘showing off’.
Perhaps many men may begin to flock to Akita after reading this article. Personally, I haven’t visited Akita yet to see if this long-standing belief about Akita is true. However, beauty is always subjective because the women you find beautiful may not be in line with what others consider beautiful and therefore, the belief about Akita beauties may not hold true for you!