Monday, July 23, 2012

The Yukata Beauty Pageant and My Life's Passion

My friend, Rino, who works for the City of Nanjo planned a huge beach party for this past weekend and asked if I’d be interested in entering the yukata contest. I imagined just showing up in yukata and hanging around and getting judged, so I said sure. But it ended up being much more intense than that.
So ignorant of what's to come. So blissfully, wonderfully ignorant.
 I was told to arrive an hour early and report to a little room where all the contestants were hanging out. These girls were SO gorgeous. Some of them were professional models, and most of them had their hair professionally styled. Feeling immediately out of place with my self-made hair and general gaijin-awkwardness, I took my seat and waited around for an hour for the contest to start. Thank goodness my friend Kazuno was with me to keep me sane or I would have bolted out of that room at the earliest opportunity. ;)
Waiting in the contestants' room with Kazuno. Starting to feel the pressure.

Finally the contest started and we were marched across this huge stage in front of … oh… a thousand people?! Yabai.
Can you spot the foreigner? Here's a hint: she's a GIANT.

After that, all 35 contestants we were taken on stage one-by-one and interviewed by some local celebrity guys. When my kakoii-boy escort met me before our interview, I asked him to practice the questions exactly as they would go down, because my Japanese isn't that great in the first place, and on stage in front of a thousand people, I knew I was doomed. So he went through each question that he'd ask:
1. What's your name?
2. What are you doing in Okinawa?
3. What's your favorite thing about Japanese matsuri?
4. How do you say that in English?
5. What's your favorite thing about your yukata?

We rehearsed the questions and answers a few times and I felt pretty confident when I stepped into the spotlight. My answers went like this:

1. Lebekka desu! *corny smile*
2. Koyo Koko no Eigo no kyoshi desu! (English teacher)
3. Yakitori!
4. Chicken stick!
5. I like the color!

I felt so proud of my pretend Japanese and my ability to smile and pose a little, but when I walked off the stage and met Kazuno, she looked concerned: "He changed the questions!"

Apparently my tricky escort decided to switch things up on me at the last minute.So instead of asking what I did in Okinawa, he asked where I was from in America, and instead of asking how to say yakitori in English, he asked what my passion was.

I was so nervous and stage-struck that I was completely unable to process these changes and proudly proclaimed to all of Nanjo that I am not only from "English Teacher, America" but that my passion in life is "chicken stick!"

At least my obi didn't come untied or anything.:P
 Needless to say, I didn't win, and I won't be entering next year, but it was definitely a fun and ... unique experience, and I'm glad I was dumb brave enough to try. ;)


  1. Your amazing Bekha you just made my day <3 you with all my heart! Good luck sis

  2. Hahaha! So hilarious! And so brave! You always have my vote!

    1. hahaha thanks. :) It's too bad you weren't there, I could've used a Corissa hug afterwards. ;P

  3. Rick and I were just talking about having so many "how did I get here" moments in Japan. This sounds like one of those. Funny how simple silly requests somehow mean so much more than you think it will. Good luck with your life's passion!

    1. Oh definitely. I think it's intentional sometimes. :P

  4. OMG! I'm rolling with laughter. This is SUCH an amazing story. OMG. Still laughing. Ganbatte, ReBekha! You bring such joy! :D

    1. hahaha love you, Nik. Glad I can entertain you a little. ;)

  5. You rock buddy!! I'd totally vote for you. Who doesn't love chicken stick? c'mon!

    1. Is this Sarah? This sounds like Sarah. ;) Chicken sticks are awesome!!

  6. You know, finding your true passion in life is a greater prize than beauty or fame. (Actually, this story is pretty much priceless, too.)

  7. hahaha that's what I told Kazuno the other day: I don't need a prize because I got a good story! ;)