20 year old Ariana Miyamoto, from Nagasaki, Japan, was chosen this past March to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant taking place in January, 2016. The striking and statuesque young lady, who went to high school in the U.S., aspires to become a model. Described in Japan as saishoku kenbi, a woman blessed with both intelligence and beauty, she speaks flawless Japanese and English, has mastered Japanese calligraphy and rides a motorcycle, a rare thing for a woman in Japan. Her motto, “Watashi ha watashi” meaning “I am myself,” sustains her through the controversy her selection has caused in her homeland.

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You see, though in every way she’s a typical, though highly accomplished, Japanese 20 year old, and identifies as Japanese, Ariana is biracial. Her African American heritage is beautifully evident in her appearance. Born a Japanese citizen, she’s from Sasebo, Nagasaki, location of a major American naval base. The child of a Japanese mother and an African American father, her selection as Japan’s Miss Universe candidate is not accepted by many in Japan, some of whom say she “doesn’t look Japanese enough,” or that it’s wrong for someone who is not 100% Japanese to represent the country, which prides itself on its 98% racially homogeneous population. She counts as her inspiration Mariah Carey, who is also biracial, saying  “She went through a lot of difficulties before becoming a popular singing sensation… She faced some racial hurdles, similar to myself, but she overcame them and became a top star, so she’s been a big influence on me.”

Knowing that her background and appearance might be obstacles, Ariana at first hesitated to enter the pageant, but she also has a very supportive fan base, who support her on social media and at her many appearances.  Ariana feels that she’s ready for the Miss Universe Pageant. She says,”The world competition is going to be tough, but I’ll believe in myself and continue doing my best!” Good luck Ariana! Go get ’em Sister!

Jerry Wells

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