Mizuki Fukumura

Mizuki Fukumura was born in Tokyo, Japan on October 30, 1996. She is a ninth-generation member and known pop singer in Japan. She is also the leader of well known pop group Morning Musume. She was also a former member of Shugo Chara Egg!. In her early years, Fukumura, at a young age of 10, entered a contest conducted by the Kirarin Revolution animated series known as the Kirarin Girl Contest 2006. Fukumura ended up getting a 2nd place finish. She was highly encourage by her mother to audition for Hello! Pro Egg, as she was a fanatic in her early years. She was able to pass and became a member of the Hello! Pro Egg, along with other enthusiasts Akari Takeuchi and Rie Kaneko on June 22, 2008.

Mizuki Fukumura

 

Mizuki Fukumura made her singing and live performance debut at the 2008 Hello! Project Shinjin Kouen 9gatsu “Shibakouen Step!” concert held on September 23 of the same year. Fukura then made her television debut on August 2009 as Amulet Heart in the television show Shugo Chara! Party!. She was added as a second generation member. Fukura then auditioned in 2011 for a spot in Morning Musume, where in she sang “Maji Bomber” as her audition piece. She did not pass the auditions however, as she only made it through the third round. To her complete surprise however, that when the announcements were made by the producer, she was included to be a part of the Morning Musume. She made her Morning Musume debut at the Hello! Project 2011 Winter “Kangei Shinsen Matsuri” concert, where the announcements were also made. “Maji Desu ka Ska!” was the first single released to ever feature Fukumura as a member of Morning Musume. At Tanaka Reina’s concert in 2013, Fukumura was declared as a sub-leader along with Iikubo Haruna of Morning Musume. On March 30, she made an appearance in the opening of the new Hello! Project shop in Akihabara.

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Makiko Esumi

Makiko Esumi was born on December 18, 1966 in Izumo Shimane Prefecture, Japan. She is a well known model and actress in Japan, and is also known to be a lyricist and writer. Esumi is known to play the role of Chinatsu Tsuboi in the Japanese television series Shomuni. When she was still a high school student, Makiko Esumi worked part time as a miko or a supplementary priestess, at Izumo-taisha. She then went on to join the Japan Tobacco Women’s Volleyball team as soon as she graduated high school, but was injured in 1989. She then pursued a career in show business after being inspired by Miki Imai while she was still recovering from her injury.

Makiko Esumi

 

Makiko Esumi made her acting debut in Maborosi as Yumiko in 1995. She received positive reviews for her role, and as stated by Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle, Esumi played her role extraordinarily and acted with grace and delicacy. With this performance, she earned the Rookie of the Year award at 19th Annual Japan Academy Prize and also at the 38th Blue Ribbon Awards. In 1996 however, she was involved in an ugly and scandalous divorce with her then husband Rowland Kirishima, where in Esumi was caught cheating on him while Kirishima was on his business trip. On April 26, 2000, Esumi penned and made her singing debut with her single titled One Way Drive. It was used as the ending song for the second season of the Shomuni series, where in she also played a role. The music was played by Tomoyasu Hotei. In 2002, she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Inochi. Esumi married Shin Hirano who was a Fuji TV director in 2003. Esumi has two daughters, with the first one being born in February 2005 and the second one in December 2009. She was also involved in a small scandal where Esumi appeared in government advertisements encouraging the mass to make their pension payments, and was later revealed that Esumi was not making contributions herself.

 

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May J

May J, whose legal name is May Hashimoto, was born on June 20, 1988, in Yokohama, Japan. May J is of Japanese, Iranian, and Russian decent, and is currently signed with Rhythm Zone label. The letter “J” in her alias May J means “Jamileh”, which is Arabic for beautiful. Hashimoto is known to be multi-lingual and speaks fluently in Japanese, English, Spanish, and also Farsi. When she was a child, her Iranian mother completely denied her about her Persian roots, and this is because of Japan’s despise and negativity towards Persians back then. She was not allow to speak Persian completely during her childhood. Her biggest influences in music are Iranian singers Afshin and Googoosh, and had hoped and dreamed that she will debut in Iran.

Japanese Sensation May J

 

May J audition for Sony Music when she was 14 years old, where in she was successful and signed a contract to Sony Music Japan. Her biggest international influences include American singers such as Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston, and also Canadian singer Avril Lavigne. She then appeared on MTV’s lookalike contest and went on to win the contest looking like Avril Lavigne. Her interest in R&B developed when she was studying at the American School in Japan. She made her debut with Neosite Discs, the hip-hop division of Ki/oon Records. In June 12, 2006 she released her debut album All My Girls, which featured some R&B and American pop influence. 2006 also saw May J opening for Cassie, and she also released her debut single titled “Here We Go” which charted at number 70. In 2009, she then switched to Rhythm Zone where she released her sophomore album titled “Family”. The single “Garden” was released in promotion of her second album. May J was then seen as doing the end roll version of the now famous Frozen song “Let It Go” which landed a number 8 spot in the Japan Hot 100.

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Miki Ando

Miki Ando was born on December 18, 1987 in Nagoya Japan. She is a former ice skating champion and figure skater, and has won multiple awards and accolades. Ando began skating at an early age of 8, and was mentored early on by Yuko Monna, who also mentored figure skating champions Mao and Mai Asada. She was coached by Nobuo Sato, and by the 2001-2002 season, she won both of the Japan Junior Championships and also the Junior Grand Prix Final, while also capturing bronze medals for her performance in the Japan Championships Seniors Division and at the Junior Worlds. A defining moment of Ando’s career happened in the 2002-2003 season, when she was able to land a quadruple salchow at the 2002-2003 Junior Grand Prix Final, making her the first female ever to be able to perform and land the quadruple salchow in any form of competition, and remains the only female skater to do so. She then went on to capture silver at the World Junior Championships and also defend her title and remain as the reigning national Junior champion.

Miki Ando

 

The 2003-2004 season proved to be more rewarding for Ando, as she won her third national title and also capture the Japan Championships Senior Division again. Through out the span of her skating career, Miki Ando has been accomplished and her resume boasts awards such as being a 2-time World champion back in 2007 and in 2011, a 2011 Four Continents championship, a 2004 World Junior Championship and being a 3 time Japanese national champion. After giving birth in April 2013, Ando went on a hiatus, and after about two years and 5 months, she came back for a performance at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy, where she placed at 2nd behind the Russian veteran Elena Radionova. She then competed at the 2014 Japan Figure Skating Championships, where she placed 7th. After that event, Ando then decided to retire her professional skating career and has since sparked an interest in coaching.

 

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Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki is a Japanese recording artist who has gained popularity in Japan when she debuted in 1999.  She was dubbed as the Empress of J-Pop because she was among the primary proponents of J-Pop not only in the country but also throughout Asia. Her beautiful singing voice has landed her top status in the Oricon Charts where her debut album remained for four weeks, immediately shooting her to fame.

Ayumi Hamasaki, singer and fashion icon

She knew that she needed to continuously reinvent herself and constantly change her image so that the people would not easily get too full of her. Because of her continuous self-improvement, her popularity soared throughout Asia. She was not only popular with her music, her popularity even rose to greater heights when she began entering the world of fashion and modelling. She often lent her songs to advertisements and commercials that increased her exposure to the masses. Her popularity started spreading through China, Singapore then Southeast Asia. As her popularity soared, people watched out for the newest style and trends that she would be setting. She is a fashion icon, landing her covers and appearances in popular fashion magazines and even gaining her the title of Most Fashionable Female Artist by Oricon.

All of the lyrics to her songs were written by no one else but her. This made her music even more impressive and heartfelt and she gained a different kind of respect from the listeners and fans. Furthermore, most of her music are quite relatable to many of the fans and used her music to reach out and let out what she feels in her heart. Her music draws inspiration from her experiences in life, particularly those that she finds difficult to voice out. This is also another reason why she prefers singing and writing in the native language because she could express herself better than through other foreign languages.

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Tomoe Gozen: A Wife and a Warrior

In the recent years, more and more evidence of the existence of women warriors in Japan has been surfacing. There were female samurai warriors known as the Onna Bugeisha who were known for their bravery, strength and passion to fight war. Among the most notable out of all these women warrior would be Tomoe Gozen who is believed to have fought in the Genpei war from 1180 to 1185.

She was considered to be a concubine of Minamoto No Yoshinaka, a prominent and wealthy Samurai lord at the time. He was a general of the Heian period and was a member of the Minamoto Samurai clan. The Genpei war was known to have been a rivalry between two superpower samurai clans a constant battle between the Minamoto and the Taira clans.

Depictions of her in the festivals and parades

The name and identity of Tomoe was found in one of the historical accounts known as the Tale of  the Heike that chronicled the life during the life of the Genpei war. She was described to be exceptionally beautiful with tantalizing white skin and especially charming feature. She was described as a good warrior, feisty and brave – a strong archer and a swordsman “ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot”. She was also described to be sent as the first captain of Yoshinaka, performing military commands with great valor.

Minamoto No Yoshinaka

When conflict became an internal struggle within the Minamoto clan, she was defeated by Wada Yoshimori and was taken as his wife. There are also rumors that Tomoe and her husband died in battle. The mystery looming within her death and even existence has been what caused her popularity to spark within the people. No one seems to be sure if she did exist as there were unclear depictions of the end of her life. The Tale of the Heike is the only proof that she existed.

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Empress Jingu, the Legend of a Woman Leader

Though many people think it is uncommon, there are still a number of women in Japanese history that was able to rule the Chrysanthemum throne. One of the most legendary was Empress Regent Jingu.

She was a Japanese Empress, the consort of Emperor Chuai before the year 201. Upon the death of her husband she was made Empress Regent until their son, Emperor Ojin was the right age to become Emperor of Japan. In history, she used to be considered as the 15th Sovereign of Japan having ruled the country for a long time and according to the traditional order of succession. However, her name was removed from the list after a re-evaluation of historical records and the title of 15th Sovereign was given to her son, Emperor Ojin.

Historians of today have found very limited evidence of her existence in historical literature and other primary sources of information. This led them to consider her as “semi-legendary” since it is difficult to prove that she did exist as a ruler of Japan during the earlier times. Though her existence was somehow real for she there were a few written records of her entitled as the consort of Emperor Chuai and the mother of Emperor Ojin, there were even more limited records of her actually ruling the country. This is the reason why she was re-evaluated and removed from the traditional order of succession.

Historical Portrait of Empress Jingu

What made her truly historical is the idea that it was her that begun Japan’s conquest in Korea. As the story goes, she led an army to invade Korea and returned to Japan after three years with victory. What makes her existence quite controversial is the fact that there were no records in Korea about her and her army. What was even more fantastic was that her son Ojin was born after her return and his father, the late Emperor Chuai, died before Empress Jingu journeyed to Korea. Since records in history are quite confusing with regards to date, it is unclear how the “three years” truly lasted in today’s time.

Whether or not her leadership was fictitious or not, her story still serves as an inspiring one. Being among the women who made their name in Historical Japan, she was still a legendary warrior.

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Eri Sato, the Face of Japan

Eri Sato, known by her stage name Rola, is famous for Japan for her beautiful face. It was said that she was approached by a talent scout when she was walking along the streets of Shibuya when she was just in high school. Her popularity really originated from her very exotic face – as her father was Bangladeshi and her mother a mix of Japanese and Russian descent. This made her appearance a fresh new look for the Japanese which immediately launched her into stardom.

The Beatufiul Rola

She is known as the Face of Japan because majority of her work on Television is for modelling. Her face is everywhere. There are ads of her on the subway, on television and even on places such as vending machines and buses. She was loved by the camera and her charming personality is even loved more by her fans. She is known best for her regular appearances for the Japanese fashion magazine called Vivi. After that she moved her career into even greater heights by being in mainstream fashion runways where her looks immediately sell to the audiences. Later on, in 2011, she ventured her career beyond pictures and commercials and starred in a television show (Shabekuri 007) as a Talent or a TV personality.

It seems that she wanted to expand her talents and test her versatility even more when she debuted as a musical artist in 2011 when she was featured on Issa and SoulJa’s song I Hate u. In 2012, she made her solo debut for a theme song in the film Kyurem vs. The Sacred Swordsman: Keldeo (Pokemon). This song was successful and even peaked at number 14 on the Oricon Chart on the first week of its release.

Though she was not a regular artist nor is she an actress, her following on media is very impressive. Evidence to this would be when she joined Twitter in 2012 and gained over 190,000 followers after the first three days. Only a few months later, she exceeded the 1 Million mark. Today, in 2014, she has the fourth highest following record for Japanese celebrities, and second among all Japanese female celebrities.

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Women in Japanese Politics

The year 1947 was a great time for the transition and empowerment of the representation of women. Due to the strong cultural influences regarding the position of women in powerful organizations and bodies, the women are poorly represented in political positions not only in Japan but in other oriental nations as well. However, women in the history of Japan are known to take active roles in the movement and motions of politically related advocacies.

It was the 1947 constitution that defined the true equality between the men and women of Japan. It is the time where they are finally given the right to vote, enter national universities and even run for parliament. However, despite all the rights and opportunities granted by the constitution, women in the Japanese government still did not seem to improve in number in the first few decades after the ratification of the constitution.

Sociologists and experts of the field are mind boggled with the slow growth in women’s representation in politics and that they have done endless researches regarding the matter. Based on the results of their studies, one of the factors is related to the fact that political parties themselves do not provide as much opportunities to women as they do to men. The women, while the Japanese culture has molded the society in a way wherein men and women have “gender type” roles, think that it is only right that they know their place.

Improve Women’s Representation in the Work Force: Prime Minister Abe’s Mission

In the recent decades, women’s representation in politics has grown in number. The most prominent of them are known as the Ozawa Girls, as the media has nicknamed them. The Democratic Party of Japan or (DPJ) has handpicked more than 20 women to take on the line up of their rival, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In doing so, these Ozawa Girls have significantly lifted the representation of women in the lower house parliament to over 10% for the first time in Japanese political history in 2009. Furthermore, it is in the plans and platforms of Prime Minister Abe to improve the representation of women not only in the government but generally in all aspect of Japan’s economy, particularly the workforce.

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Beni Arashiro, Not Your Ordinary Girl

Beni Arashiro is one of Japan’s most popular pop artists of today. She is a signed artist of Universal Studios Japan with both a solo career and a former membership of the Bishoujo Club 31, an idol group popular in the country. She is most famous for her singles including “Here Alone (2004)” and “Kiss Kiss Kiss”. She is also very famed for her close friendship with another Japanese idol named Crystal Kaye.

BENI, famous Japanese Idol

Born Beni Daniels, she grew up from a multicultural background with an American father and a Japanese mother. Her fluency in both English and Japanese became very advantageous for her in not only singing different kinds of songs but also reaching out to her fans in different parts of the world. She spent 12 years in California, USA before officially migrating back to Japan. She studied in the American School of Japan where she met and made good friends with the idol Crystal Kaye. Both had a love for music and art. Also born from musical parents, she learned piano at a very young age and was deeply exposed to the works of various musical artists from different cultures. Her influences include popular singers such as Namie Amuro, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson.

She started her musical career in 2004 and has been continuously gaining popularity in her decade long career. She has released seven albums with over 20 singles since her debut. Today, she still continues to make beautiful music with plans of releasing another album in the near future.

Other than her musical career, she is also active in a variety of activities. She used to be the ambassador for the NFL in Tokyo. She also worked as a model and face for products such as Kose Visee, Orion beer and many more. Other than that, she also became the heroine in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play The Beautiful Game, making her a versatile artist.  Even though her popularity and the sales of her album are not as extraordinary as other Japanese Idols, she still has incredible talent. She is consistent and hardworking, making her a role model for many of the youth in Japan.

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