Japanese high school girls are quite famous around the world. There are many reasons for this, perhaps not all of them appropriate. However, for one reason or another, the image of the Japanese high school girl is one which has captured the attention of the world.
It could be the fact that they all wear quite stylish looking uniforms, in military-style skirts, blazers, knee-high socks, and usually various sorts of bows or neckerchiefs. This seems to be the norm in Japan, and you will rarely see a Japanese high school girl in trousers (although this is slowly changing!).
Or, it could be the fact that many women older than high school age choose to model or replicate the schoolgirl look, for example, models, celebrities, idols, and even anime characters can be seen sporting the same uniform.
Ultimately, the high school look is deemed to be cute and smart, especially here in Japan. So much so that, in 2016, there was a competition to decide on the cutest Japanese high school girl in the land. This took place on March 22nd, 2016, and involved girls from all over the country who came to Tokyo to compete. Let’s find out more about this very Japanese contest and some information about the winner!
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This contest takes place every year, and in 2016 it had its biggest ever turnout. A total of more than 640,000 applications were received by girls who wanted to compete. The way the finalists are chosen is quite a unique one. They are selected via images and information from a Purikura Machine, in this case, a famous one called Shirayuki.
You are probably wondering what a Purikura Machine. You can find out all about them here, but they are basically Japanese photo booths. They are everywhere in Japan, and particularly popular among young people.
Usually, you go in, take some pictures, and then you can airbrush yourself, add messages, video clips, and other such things. First of all, you need to pay to take some pictures. We are asked to pay before going in. It’s a craze here in Japan and may seem like a strange idea of fun to most people. However, it is quite a funny and bizarre thing to do, so I’d recommend trying it if you are in Japan!
So, the contest staff took these thousands of images, which were submitted between July 2015 and September 2015. They then narrowed the contestant down to just 14 people! The lucky 14 girls then took part in the contest which was held in Tokyo.
During the contest, the girls were judged on many criteria which are broadly similar to those of western and international beauty pageants. These criteria included acting and singing skills, fashion, dancing, and doing a runway show. There were many great girls taking part in the contest and they were all talented entertainers.
The overall winner was an 18-year old girl from Aichi Prefecture named Riko Nagai. During her performances, she sang the song ‘Story’, by the well-known Japanese singer Ai. This is a famous song which was released in 2005 and shot Ai to fame in Japan. You might be familiar with it because it was released in English and was a theme song for Disney’s comedy animation Big Hero 6.
For the fashion category, Riko Nagai presented herself in a simple pink and white outfit which was paired with sneakers and a black choker. This proved very popular indeed and was copied by many fans!
ประกาศผลแล้ว! Riko Nagai จากจ.ไอจิ สาวม.ปลายที่น่ารักที่สุดในญี่ปุ่นจากการประกวด JR Miss Con cr:modelpress pic.twitter.com/Z1ZWdnFysA
— หมี Choco Mocha (@Choco_Mocha_TH) March 23, 2016
After all the contestants had given their best performances and put in a lot of effort, votes were accrued, again via a Purikura Machine. This was seen as a great way to really gather the views of the people and fans in Japan, instead of having a small panel of judges to decide.
Finally, the winner was announced in a live show, and Riko Nagai was given the title of Grand Prix winner of the contest! Nagai was so shocked and surprised that she cried quite a lot on stage, as did many of the other competitors.
When Nagai went to the podium to be crowned with the tiara and awarded the trophy, she gave a warm speech saying that she had never thought it possible that she might win this competition, and expressed gratitude and happiness about being crowned the winner.
In an interview after the ceremony, Nagai said she would really try to make the most of the opportunities now open to her, and try and begin a modeling career. The close runner-up in second place was the equally talented and famously baby-faced Mayu Kamisato. She is 18 years old too and hails from the shores of Okinawa.
So what is Riko (also known as Rikopin) up to now? Well, she is, as of 2017, appearing on the famous Japanese reality show Terrace House, and is also continuing a modeling career. You can check out what she up to on her twitter account here and see some pictures of her on her Instagram account here!
Contest Website *Japanese only