As 2018 slowly winds down to a close, the pageant world is only just heating up, as contestants prepare for one of the biggest events on their calendar: the annual Miss Universe competition.
Representing Japan at this year’s contest is 22-year-old Yuumi Kato, who was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2018 at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in March. Representing Mie for the national pageant, Nagoya-born Kato was chosen to represent Japan at the international competition after proving she was much more than just a pretty face.
The young model, actress and reporter, who was raised by her parents in Malaysia from the ages of 5 to 13, is fluent in Japanese, English, Chinese and Malay, and has also studied the art of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Since being crowned Miss Universe Japan, Kato has travelled abroad to countries like Cambodia as part of her official duties.
After months of preparation for the Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in Bangkok on Dec 17, Kato debuted her national costume at a press event in Tokyo on Nov 19.
What you’re seeing is real – Kato will be appearing at Miss Universe dressed as Sailor Moon. And not only will she be dressed as a magical anime girl on stage, she’ll be completing a transformation sequence as well. Kato will step out as a kunoichi, or female ninja, before turning around to reveal herself as Sailor Moon. At the Tokyo event, she cosplayed down the catwalk, receiving enthusiastic applause from the audience.
According to pageant organizers, the national costume worn by contestants at the event should “incorporate various ideas based on their own culture and traditions“. A female ninja and Sailor Moon outfit fits perfectly into this description, and Kato herself says: “I’m honored to be able to appear on stage as Sailor Moon, a character who’s been loved not only in Japan, but around the world for over 25 years.”
Kato has been quick to credit the team behind her stunning magical girl transformation, which includes the National Director of Miss Universe Japan, Hiroko Mima, the designer of the dress, Kioi Akiyama (below left), and hairstylist Sunao Akiyama (below right). In charge of Kato’s makeup is famed makeup artist and Buddhist monk Kodo Nishimura.
Last year’s Miss Universe entrant from Japan, Momoko Abe, also appeared at the event, heaping praise on Kato and her team for the unusual national costume, saying it was a world away from the usual kimono often worn by Japanese contestants.
Following her costume debut, director Mima answered questions from the host of the event, saying the decision to dress as an anime character was part of a desire to showcase “cool Japan” and the local cosplay culture to the world.
▼ Left to right: Maria Kamiyama (model and Miss Universe Japan 2011), Hiroko Mima, Yuumi Kato, Momoko Abe, Kodo Nishimura.
Once the decision to cosplay at Miss Universe was made, makeup artist and self-confessed Sailor Moon fan Kodo made the suggestion to Mima that Miss Universe Japan transform into Sailor Moon. The team then worked together to make the dream a reality, with the costume designer creating an outfit that would surprise people and leave a lasting impression on the judges.
We’ll have to wait until Dec 17 to find out how well the national costume is received by judges, when Kato steps out as Woman Warrior Sailor Moon at the 67th Miss Universe with contestants from 92 other countries around the world.
Source: Missosolgy Japan Facebook
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