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How to become a Japanese Model

Updated on October 11, 2014
Nozomi Sasaki
Nozomi Sasaki | Source

In Japan, style and looks are everything and many young women aspire to become a Japanese model. Girls don’t even have to be a professional model to have their picture featured in magazines frequently. Photographers for street style magazines search areas like Harajuku in Tokyo to look for normal girls with funky outfits to take pictures of which will be published in the next issue. Modeling is a lucrative business and famous Japanese models can have a great career.

The Japanese beauty ideal is different to what we’re used to in the west. Cuteness is valued over sexiness and it’s usually not a problem to have a flaw such as wonky teeth which can add to your cute value. Height is also not so much of an issue, especially for magazine and catalogue modeling, so it is possible for a girl who would be turned away from modeling agencies in the west to be successful in Japan.

There is however a certain ‘look’ that Japanese model agencies look for and not every model can be successful in Japan. Most magazines feature mainly Japanese models but the western features of European and American models are also highly desired by the Japanese who particularly value their wide eyes. Pale skin is also a must have.

photo by mc_sensei on flickr
photo by mc_sensei on flickr

Japanese Modelling Tips

So it is possible for western girls to become a Japanese model, even if they do not have the right looks or characteristics for them to be accepted to a modeling agency in their own country. But you are unlikely to be successful if you just turn up in Japan without any appropriate preparation or training. If you’re hoping to become a successful model in Japan, you should first learn how to pose and make sure you have a professional portfolio to show at castings.

It is sometimes easier to specialize in a certain area of modeling so you might want to consider becoming a Japanese swimsuit model or model lingerie as companies in these areas are often looking for curvier models. Japanese glamour models also get a lot of work if you don’t have a problem with going into this area.

Male models can also find work in Japan if they have the right look. The androgynous look is favored and big muscles are usually a no-no. It can help to have some Japanese or at least Asian blood in your ancestry and half Japanese models can be quite successful.

Japanese Idols

If modeling seems like too much hard work, but you’re still longing for fame in Japan, another option is to try to become a Japanese idol. Idols are girls usually in their teens or early twenties who become famous for singing, dancing or simply looking cute! Idols are loved by Japanese men and women alike and will usually have successful careers with extensive media attention. Most idols publish several photo books of themselves in modeling poses so this is another way to be a Japanese model.

Until recently, Idols were exclusively Japanese but in recent years, western girls have found popularity in Japan through their websites and especially videos on YouTube. The Japanese culture as a whole will latch onto anything cute and these western girls have achieved success in Japan by styling themselves as a Japanese girl, learning the popular poses and the language and uploading videos of themselves dancing and singing. After attaining a cult following on the internet, the lucky few have been invited to appear on Japanese TV and their careers have taken off from there.

So it’s not easy to become a Japanese model, particularly if you have no modeling experience in your own country. But if you have the right look and a strong will to succeed, it is possible for the chosen few.

If you enjoyed this hub, you may enjoy my other hubs:

Inside the mind of a Japanese Girl

Collecting Japanese Erasers

Japanese Idol from the UK - Beckii

Japanese Street Style book: FRUiTS


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm quite upset, because having pale skin is a "must have" I don't have "pale" skin, so it really brung me down. So If you don't have pale skin you cant become a model ? Is what my question is.

    • Hezekiah profile image


      7 years ago from Japan

      In Japan, models will be more successful if they have foregin blood in them. E.g. Jun Hasegawa, Meisa Kuroki.


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