Campus Celebrity: Natsuko Okawa
This summer, if you use the Tokyo Metro Line, you may have seen a poster promoting the importance of overseas safety with campaign model, Miss Marine Japan 2015. Miss Marine Japan 2015 is this week’s campus celebrity, Natsuko Okawa! Natsuko is the first Miss Marine Japan to have an international background and speak fluent English. Let’s hear what Natsuko has to say about her experience being this year’s pageant queen.
Yuri Kusumoto: What made you enter this pageant?
Natsuko Okawa: (laughs) Actually my mum applied for me without telling me! At first, I was surprised but I thought this could be a good opportunity for me to improve my Japanese and to learn more about the culture. I got through a 3-4 paper batch and went through regionals then represented the Tokai-region (東海地区) for the finals.
Yuri: Is the pageant life what you imagined? What was it like for you?
Natsuko: Entering the pageant world was more than what I thought it would be. At first, the 14 finalists were like a team, but towards the end, we were all competitors. Training was rigorous and difficult especially in speaking, because it was all in Japanese. If someone asked a question, rather than answering straight forward, you had to answer with a rhetorical question. In English, when you speak, it is more casual and you talk more directly, but in Japanese you need to be able to speak in what they call “princess keigo”; polite and eloquently.
Yuri: During the finals, you performed Hula. Was that something you had to rehearse? What were some of the difficulties you endured during the competition?
Natsuko: Hula is something I learned when I was a kid, so it came naturally for me. I was actually so nervous about the competition that I slept only 2 hours the night before! The kimono contest was one of the first, and during the questionnaire I was so nervous I can’t remember what was being asked! (laughs) The bikini contest was one of the last ones, so by then I was calmed down. I was also told that I was too tan for a Japanese pageant, but in the end I did well!
Yuri: How did you feel when you were crowned as Miss Japan Marine 2015? What is it like seeing your face on posters and newspapers?
(photo source: http://www.marine-carnival.jp/events.html)
Natsuko: I was so happy and it was rewarding how the media recognized my accomplishment. The whole process took half a year, and this was something I achieved on my own. Receiving this award really meant a lot to me. My mum was the first person to hear about the news, and she was there supporting me during whole experience. She screamed with happiness when she heard the news! My grandparents were very happy too, so happy that they bought 10 copies of the newspaper! (laughs)
Yuri: What kind of activities are you doing now as Miss Marine Japan 2015?
Natsuko: I go see all the companies that are sponsoring me as well as volunteer. I also had to take a boat license! Textbooks were all in Japanese so that was difficult, on top of that, I’m a very clumsy person. I did not have a driving license yet, but I passed! (laughs). I also had to shoot for the campaign video. The first video shooting took place in the middle of the winter, and my lips turned purple. We weren’t able to use that footage…
Yuri: I remember you telling me how you had to go “poster hunting” since you were not able to find your own poster at the Tokyo Metro line?
(photo source: www.wadaken.net/sbcr/blog/)
Natsuko: Everyone else saw the poster before me and I received so many snapchats. “Why haven’t I seen it?!” I thought. With a friend, I went to go find the poster. In the end I couldn’t find it, but my grandpa framed it at his house so I was finally able to see it.
Yuri: Are you curious to know who you will be giving your tiara to next year?
Natsuko: I’m actually really excited to see who will be the next Miss Japan Marine! This time I will be able to watch as an audience member, so no more blanking out!
Thank you Natsuko, for sharing your experience as Miss Marine Japan 2015!