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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2016 Autumn Issue]>As a finalist in the Miss Nippon Contest 2016, Kotomi Motoyama beats odds of 216 to 1!

Hakumon CHUOIndex

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As a finalist in the Miss Nippon Contest 2016,

Kotomi Motoyama beats odds of 216 to 1!

Student Reporter: Shunsuke Yamada (4th-year Student in the Faculty of Law)

Motoyama takes a walking lesson (Photo credit: Miss Nippon Contest Secretariat)

The Miss Nippon Contest 2016 was held on January 25 at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo. The contest has produced actresses and entertainers such as Norika Fujiwara. The beautiful figure of a young student from Chuo University graced this glamorous event.

Appearing graceful in a kimono (Photo credit: Miss Nippon Contest Secretariat)

The name of this striking young woman is Kotomi Motoyama, a first-year student in the Faculty of Economics. When Motoyama competed in the contest, she was still seventeen years old and a third-year high school student in Kyoto. Motoyama stands 175 centimeters tall and is blessed with stunning proportions.

The thirteen finalists who have earned the right to compete in the Miss Nippon Contest are block representatives who have won preliminary contests in five regions throughout Japan. A total of 2,804 applications were received from throughout Japan, and Motoyama had to beat odds of 216 to 1 to earn her spot in the contest.

Motoyama represented the Western Japan region and was assigned 1 as her entry number, making her the first young woman to appear on stage. She was also the youngest participant in the contest.

In the contest venue, the area behind the judges was packed with members of the press, and several dozen television cameras were focused on Motoyama. She was surprised at the amount of attention attracted by the contest.

In the final judging, contestants wear kimonos, dresses, and swimsuits. They also answer questions from judges and give self-introduction.

In each section, Motoyama displayed herself as beautiful and lovely.

Enhancing total beauty

Motoyama stepped out wearing a dress from Tadashi Shoji, a world-renowned Japanese dress designer. (Photo credit: Miss Nippon Contest Secretariat)

During the four months prior to the contest, a study program was held for finalists by the Miss Nippon Contest Secretariat. The thirteen finalists broadened their perspectives and devoted themselves to self-improvement. The study program was full of surprises for a 17-year old woman.

The program covered the following topics: Japanese language, morals, Japanese history, tea ceremony, Noh, visual sense, makeup, dental examinations, and self-presentation. The Finalists also underwent a Miss Nippon-style diet based on the science of physiology. They also received walking lessons from Ran Otori, a former top star of the Takarazuka Revue.

At a general meeting of finalists, Otori emphasized the importance of self-expression and using their body to display individual appeal. She advised Motoyama to emphasize her height and long legs with a smile.

When working as a model, Motoyama’s job is to wear new clothes and show off the clothes to consumers. In this respect, the clothes are the actual star of modeling work. However, in the Miss Nippon Contest, Motoyama herself would be the heroine.

“It was a new discovery for me,” says Motoyama. “I was so excited before meeting Ms. Otori, and I never imagined that I would receive personal instruction from her. It was a thrilling experience. I could sense her aura.”

Motoyama described the lesson to her mother, who had witnessed the glamorous performances of Ran Otori. Naturally, her mother was astonished.

“Direct instruction!?” she exclaimed. “You’re lucky to have such an opportunity.”

Motoyama felt that lesson on self-presentation would be useful after graduating university. For the contest, Motoyama had to present herself in a one-minute speech.

“I was shy and uncomfortable with speaking,” recalls Motoyama. “I ended up speaking in a muffled voice.”

However, Motoyama completely overcame her discomfort thanks to the instruction of a speech-language professional. Her speech became clearer. She expressed her personality also by discussing her upbringing in Kyoto. Her instructor smiled and complimented Motoyama on the improvement.

Motoyama also studied forestry at the Forestry Agency and received strong encouragement from Hiroshi Moriyama, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at that time. She studied foreign diplomacy under an active diplomat. Motoyama began to focus on environmental issues such as wastewater.

“The contest is not judged only on external beauty,” explains Motoyama while recalling the numerous study sessions in which she participated. “I really learned a lot from the experience, and I had the opportunity to meet many special people. I learned things which a high school student would normally never experience. I am very grateful.”

The concept of the Miss Nippon Contest is “to be an active and healthy beauty.” The winner of the title Miss Nippon Grand Prix is expected to embody the grand theme of total beauty.

Past winners of the Miss Nippon Contest include Fujiko Yamamoto, an actress who is adored as the most beautiful woman of the Showa Period, Norika Fujiwara, a popular entertainer in Japan, and countless other women who are currently active in various fields such as culture and politics.

Motoyama won the Grand Prize in open auditions for models to wear a pure gold dress from the Yumi Katsura Grand Collection. In this photograph, she models the pure gold dress for the first time ever as the finale of the Yumi Katsura Grand Collection in 2016. Yumi Katsura is shown on the right. (Photo credit: Yumi Katsura International Co., Ltd.)

Motoyama’s journey started when she applied for the Western Japan Contest, a preliminary contest which was held in Osaka in September 2015.“As a model and a woman, I felt the desire to embrace new challenges and broaden my perspectives,” says Motoyama when explaining why she applied.

Motoyama first started attending modeling school out of admiration for her mother’s career as a flight attendant.

“I also wanted to fix my poor posture,” admits Motoyama.

Her posture improved through the lessons and she acquired greater confidence.

Motoyama was selected to represent Western Japan in the Miss Nippon Contest. She received messages of congratulations and encouragement from many of her friends who heard the news, including her high school classmates, friends from modeling school, and friends whom she hadn’t seen since graduating from elementary school. This outpouring of support gave Motoyama new courage and further spurred her desire.

Motoyama has always had a wide range of interest, from violin and piano to swimming, basketball, and track and field. While at junior high school, she was training to be a sprinter and competed in track and field events. She had the chance to see Meg Hemphill (currently a second-year student in the Faculty of Letters, Chuo University; winner of the women’s heptathlon at the Japan National Championships) compete firsthand.

“Ms. Hemphill was setting amazing new records one after another,” recalls Motoyama. “I always admire her.”

Ever since her childhood, Motoyama’s parents always gave her the opportunity to observe top performers in each field. In this way, her parents sought to instill Motoyama with the rich sensitivity that she possesses today. She had the chance to watch musicals in New York, to visit the British Museum in London, and to see the Louvre Museum in Paris.

“The magnificent architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral took my breath away,” says Motoyama.

The much-anticipated results of the final screening were announced at a special stage in the Keio Plaza Hotel. In addition to Miss Nippon Grand Prix, other Miss Nippon titles were awarded in four other divisions. The title of Grand Prix was awarded to a second-year student from Keio University.

Motoyama holds the uniform which she made for her soccer team FUSSBALL at Chuo University. The number “75” refers to her height of 175 centimeters.

“I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat,” reveals Motoyama. “I just drank a lot of water while waiting in the dressing room.”

In the Q&A session with judges, Motoyama was asked about a memory involving snow.

“I remember being asked the question, but I can’t recall how I answered,” says Motoyama.

There were many reasons for Motoyama to feel nervous. Not only was it her first big contest, but she was also the youngest and the first contestant to take the stage.

One week later, Motoyama received news that seemed too good to be true. In February, she had competed in open auditions for models to wear a pure gold dress from the Yumi Katsura Grand Collection. The auditions were held by Yumi Katsura, a leading designer in the bridal fashion field. Motoyama had won the Grand Prize!

As an extra prize, Motoyama had also earned the right to participate in the Yumi Katsura Paris Haute Couture Collection, which would be held at the end of January 2017.

This collection is a huge event and features participation from famous top models including Koyuki and Yu Yamada, as well as entertainers such as Ai Tominaga. For this young woman from Chuo University, participating in the collection will open a new door in the modeling on a worldwide scale.

“I’m so happy to actually be part of something that I have always admired,” exclaims Motoyama. “The Paris Haute Couture Collection has special meaning for me.” She has often enjoyed looking at foreign fashion magazines. Now, she feels that she has moved a little closer to becoming a top model that graces the covers and color pages of such magazines.

“My goal is to become an international model,” she proclaims.

Motoyama’s eyes sparkle as she discusses her dream. However, she always remembers the support that she has received from so many people. The day before the Miss Nippon Contest, she received a letter of encouragement from the director of her modeling school. She also received countless messages of encouragement from her friends and acquaintances. Backstage at the contest, one of the older contestants gave her an energy drink.

From becoming a finalist for Miss Nippon Contest to participating in the Paris Collection, Motoyama has been blessed with backing from her family and other supporters. She is always grateful for how others have helped her grasp such great opportunities.

On the Tama Campus of Chuo University, who would ever believe that the young woman walking gracefully under a pedestrian deck is actually a model that embodies beauty at glamorous events throughout the world?

Tell me more!
Miss Nippon Contest

Under the theme of “active healthcare,” the Miss Nippon Contest is held by Wada Laboratory as part of the company’s social contribution activities. According to the company’s homepage, “the Miss Nippon Contest is held with the hope of providing beautiful women with honor and benefit by selecting and rearing beautiful young women to represent Japan and setting a standard for beauty.” The contest was first held in 1950. “The Miss Nippon Contest started from gratitude for aid activities from America, with the goal of selecting a female goodwill ambassador who would promote friendly relationships between Japan and America” (homepage).