A grandma model? Why not, says 29-year-old Moe Oshikiri who hopes to be still modeling when she is in her 80s. “Fashion is inspirational and important for expressing one’s personality, no matter what your age,” says Oshikiri in English. Her eagerness and confidence to speak English is the legacy of her two years as co-host of NHK’s popular program “Eigode Shaberanaito,“ which will finish at the end of March.
Born in Chiba, Oshikiri says she dreamed of being an artist when she was a young girl. “I always liked to draw and paint. I still do.” She did some amateur modeling before being scouted in Shibuya when she was 18. Her early days in the business were tough and she suffered many hardships. She writes about it in her recently released book, “Moderu Shikkaku” (No Longer a Model), which is a play on author Osamu Dazai’s famous 1948 novel “Ningen Shikkaku” (No Longer Human). In it, she tells how her first modeling agency went bankrupt and how she had to do many part-time jobs. “I was working in a factory putting strawberries on cakes as they came along on a conveyor belt, and doing other odd jobs,” she recalls.
The book, which Oshikiri says took her about four months to write, also recounts how she suffered from a spinal injury in 2005 after being dumped by a wave in Hawaii. She spent the next three months out of work. But she persevered and in the last four years, she has become one of Japan’s top models.
For a long time, she was a fixture in CanCam magazine and most recently, “graduated” to AneCam magazine. “AneCam is for women over 25, who are more stylish, and more active,” she explains. Besides magazines, Oshikiri has taken part in the popular Tokyo Girls Collection, appeared in ads for Sony Ericsson and Asahi Beer, and her legs adorned the Japanese poster for the 2006 movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”
However, Oshikiri has really come of age on “Eigode Shaberanaito.” “I studied English in school but it wasn’t much fun. I started studying it more seriously about 4-5 years ago,” she says. “When I was in hospital with my back injury, I started watching ‘Eigode Shaberanaito’ and really liked it. Joining the program was a big challenge and a big opportunity. It’s been fun interviewing famous people such as Will Smith and Keanu Reeve in English. Cameron Diaz was great. I love her. She gave me a lot of encouragement.” Oshikiri says she tries to keep up her English by reading books and magazines when she can, as well as watching movies without subtitles.
After “Eigode Shaberanaito” ends, Oshikiri will still be a busy woman. She designs kimonos, watches, as well as a line of hosiery with her good friend and fellow model Yuri Ebihara; she does interior design for onsen rooms and last summer even created some seasonal flavors for ice cream. “Modeling will remain my main job, though,” she says. “Some days, I am up at 4 a.m. and we don’t finish until midnight.” She stays in shape by going to the gym once or twice a week, dancing and playing golf. For relaxation, Oshikiri likes shopping in Daikanyama, hanging out in Ebisu or cooking at home. “I make a great stew,” she says.
Whatever lies ahead, Oshikiri says it is important to have a positive attitude. She follows news events closely and donates regularly to two children’s charities and, most recently, to a relief fund for victims of the wildfires in Australia. “I’m really interested in U.S. President Obama. I hope he can bring change. We all face many uncertainties, such as the economy. I believe that we have a bright future. We all have to focus on doing what we can. The first step for me is to help others. If someone next to me is crying, I want to encourage them, even if it is just a smile. A smile is the best gift I can give.”© Japan Today