Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
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Past Issues

804: Rent, The original stars of the Broadway musical
803: Roland Emmerich, Director
802: Miss Universe Japan, Emiri Miyasaka
801: Dog days
800: Bolt
799: Actor, Hiroshi Mikami
798: Yuko Aoyama
797: Return of the bots
796: The Terminator cast
795: Actress Saki Takaoka
794: Okinawan actress Meisa Kuroki
793: J. J. Abrams and Star Trek cast
792: Zac Efron
791: Science Friction
790: Junichi Ishida
789: Daisuke Nakata, Trampolinist
788: Kazuaki Kiriya, Director
787: Nana Natsume, Former AV star
786: Eugene Otani, Newscaster
785: Love at first bite
784: Miki Mizuno
783: Tom Cruise
782: Jun Hasegawa, Model
781: Moe Oshikiri, Model attitude
780: Grace Park of Battlestar Galactica
779: Where there's a Will
778: Jolie good time
777: Age before beauty
776: Streep talk
775: World of difference
774: Shocks and Bonds
773: Viva La Revolucin
772: Jacqui Bayne
768: Beyond the universe
767: Yasuhito Endo
766: Aroon Mahtani
765: Dr. Hidemi Akai
764: Badr Hari
763: Mizuki Kubodera
761: Patrick W. Galbraith
760: Jean-Pierre Felix
759: Philippe Grau
758: Emi Kashiwara & Elekiteru
757: Aura Virginia Chirculescu
756: Aaron Davis
755: Happy days
754: Bryan Au
753: Martin van der Linden
752: Qinggelete
751: Chuck Johnson
750: Mike Applegate (aka Magic Mike)
749: Yukie Kito
748: Steve Kaufmann
746: Samira Zarghami
745: Raising the Bar
744: Pierre-Gilles Delorme
743: David F. Hoenigman
742: Miwa Gardner
741: Kevin Cooney
740: Kyle Cleveland
739: JJ
738: Bruce Stronach
737: Yoichiro Dennis Ide
736: Mike Garrett
735: Hiroki Suehara
734: Rise and Shrine
733: Patrik Washburn
732: Michael Bumgardner
731: Patricia Bader-Johnston
730: Darin Maki
729: Hiroshi Fujimaki
728: Misha Janette
727: Jon Mitchell
725: Hokuto Konishi
724: Rita Lamah Hankach
723: Kisui Nakazawa
722: Angela Jeffs
721: Simon Wood
720: Yasuko Yokoyama
715: Jason Kelly
714: Dominica Serigano
713: Erik Gain
712: Genevieve Maylam
711: Masahiro Gono
710: Eikou Sumura
709: Eikou Sumura
708: Malcolm Thompson
707: Makiko Tsuji
706: Dominic Allen
705: Maria Heitanen
704: Beckie Cassidy
703: Jett Edwards
702: Yoshinobu Furuichi
701: Silvestre Jacobi
700: Jah-Light Sound System
699: Daniel Velazques
698: Lynne Charles
697: Eric Bragg
695: Susan Nichols
694: Anna Kunnecke
693: Kenneth Pechter
692: Kazu Wakui
691: Antonio Inoki
690: Hiroko Noguchi
689: Richard Bysouth
688: Eric Bjorndahl
687: Andrew Shuttleworth
686: Sayuri Suzuki
685: Yurie Hatanaka
684: Miogi Takii
683: Thierry Cohen
682: Ahmed M. Elmardi
681: Aya Kitagawa
680: Suzanne Ng and Yoriko Soma
679: Ricco DeBlank
677: Takenari Shibata
676: Kirk R. Patterson
675: Satoko Yahata
674: Flavia Nishimura
673: Ryo Shoji
672: Chip Eckton
671: Yuko Ito
670: Marja Kullberg
669: Laur Meyrieux
668: Slavomir Stanislaw Kowalewski
667: Ryan McGuire
664: Life force
663: Steve Marshall
662: Jeff Klein
661: Ahn Soon Han
660: Straight shooter
659: Marcello Pietrantonio
658: Glitterball 2006
657: Alison Roberts-Brown
656: Girl on the go
655: Rob Hoey
654: Kahori Ochi
653: Ed Wells
652: Haruka Orth
651: Laura Cook
650: Uleshka Asher
649: Full speed ahead
648: Katsumi Namekata
647: Top talent
646: No heels, no life
645: Joanna Roper
644: Lu Nagata
643: Kirill Konin
642: Gabriele Roberto
641: Carlos Gibbs
640: Blair Falahey
639: The Three Waiters
638: Simon Woodroffe
637: Tony Virili
636: Paul W. Creager
635: Randy Channell
634: Mari Takeuchi
633: Stephanie Schueller
632: Tara Tan Kitaoka
631: Katherine Mok
630: Bob Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi
629: Tommy Kullberg
628: Toshio Nagashima
627: Eiko Kondo
626: Embrey Ramon Williams
625: Neil Day
624: Mong-Lan
623: Tor Hideki Kashio
622: Elizabeth Heilman Brooke
621: Louis Carlet
620: Theo Panagiotoulias
619: Lionel Gougne
618: Sarajean Rossitto
617: Christian Hassing
616: Kiho Takashima
614-615: David Wagner
613: Heather Stuart
612: Erica Angyal
611: Jack McLean
610: Fumine Yakumo
609: Yasutoshi Hirabayashi
608: Yoko Hijikata
607: Jim Frederick
605: Yuka Murakami
604: Chayne Ellis
603: Marco Antonio Nakata
602: Kicking Back
601: Stand by your man
600: Hero worship
599: The Candy man
598: Heart strings
597: Sweet and sour
596: Subtitle subtleties
595: The right moves
594: Mother’s day
593: The clone ranger
592: A career kicks off
591: Woman of substance
590: Final conflict
589: World Ready for ‘War’
588: Fun in the sun
587: New life for an old hero
586: Fun and games
585: Knockout punch
584: Patrick’s day
583: Marcia marches on
582: Brunch break
581: Kingdom come
580: Gentle as a beast
579: Prime time
578: Devil of a time
577: In first Gere
576: Bright spark
575: Rei of sunshine
574: A star is reborn
573: In search of geisha
572: Marshall law
571: In the Nic of time
570: Holding a grudge
569: Bourne again
568: Soap opera
567: Alexander and friends
566: Oceans apart
565: A night at the opera
564: Just joshing
563: McPain in the neck
561-562: Hanks for everything
560: Reading between the Klines
559: Risqué business
558: Sky highs
557: Korean boom
556: Queen Victoria
555: Glitter Ball
554: Peter Miller
553: Ralph Frehner
552: Dimension K
551: Tokyo Game Show
550: US Embassy
549: I, Robot Premiere
548: Mauve
547: Xterra Japan
546: Earth Celebration
545: Idée R-bar
544: Laforet Museum
543: Hara Museum
542: Fuji Rock Festival’04
541: Bunkamura Museum of Art

By Chris Betros and Satomi Honda

Kawaii diplomacy
Shizuka Fujioka joins the diplomatic world as one of Japan’s “Ambassadors of Cute”

KOHJI SHIIKI

Japan's ambassadors to more than 150 countries were joined by three new appointments earlier this year. These weren't your average diplomats, though. Appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country's new “Kawaii Ambassadors” are tasked with the job of traveling abroad and introducing Japanese pop culture to young people. One of the trio is 20-year-old Shizuka Fujioka, whose trademark high school uniform proved a hit on her first overseas assignment at the Japan Festival in Thailand in March.

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture, Fujioka says her dream was to be a ballerina, and that she’s always had a desire to be in show business. “However, in Ibaraki, I didn’t have any connections and didn’t really go as far as to mail in applications to agencies or anything like that. So I just continued doing ballet.”

Fate stepped in when she was scouted at Yokohama station two years ago, and her first acting job came a year later, when she played a student in the TV show Shika Otoko Awo Niyoshi. “Then, one night in February, I was on an NHK program called Kawaii TV, and someone from the Foreign Ministry who had been watching it took a liking to me and chose me as one of the ‘Kawaii Ambassadors,’” she recalls. “At first, I felt anxious and worried at the idea of being an ‘ambassador,’ but I knew I was being given a huge opportunity and decided to change those negative feelings and show my true colors.”

So just what does a “Kawaii Ambassador” do? “My duties include introducing Japanese fashion—in my case, by starting off with school uniforms,” Fujioka explains. “By doing this, I will spread the message to Japanese people that school uniforms are very popular abroad as well as within Japan, and also induce an interest in Japanese culture in the minds of people abroad.

In Thailand, I visited an anime production company, attended a fashion show of Thai models, and participated in a talk show with a Thai celebrity named Neko Jump.”

The reaction, she says, was extremely positive. “The Thai people kept saying ‘Kawaii,’ which made quite an impression on me. They told me over and over that they think Japanese people are really pretty. They said they were jealous that Japanese girls could wear such cute school uniforms.”

She also found that people were attuned to Japanese beauty trends. “Since they sell Japanese magazines translated into Thai, they know about Japanese fashion and told me that they employ a lot of the styles in their own fashion, not just in their clothes, but also in their nail designs, accessories and hairstyles,” she says. “They think of Japanese girls as their source of reference in terms of fashion. In fact, the Thai girls looked like Japanese girls—their fashion, and their white skin... The only thing that was different was that they didn’t speak the language.”

Although being a cute ambassador involves a lot of travel, Fujioka doesn’t consider it a full-time job. She recently released a photo book that shows different ways students can style their school outfits. “I love clothes,” she says. “Not just school uniforms, but regular clothes too. I don’t always wear uniforms... after all, I am 20.”

When she’s not busy being a “Kawaii Ambassador,” Fujioka enjoys going to see musicals, especially Takarazuka, and trying out new cafés and cake shops. “I have a sweet tooth, which I’m trying to control because I don’t want to gain weight,” she says. “I’m also into darts and pool right now.”
Fujioka says she is very happy that her new role is garnering a lot of media attention. “My parents always tell me that I shouldn’t be afraid of challenges,” she says.

Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (www.japantoday.com).

Got something to say about this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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