Models tweak skills for survival off the catwalk

by Yo Nakai

Kyodo

Popular models are expanding their skill sets and pursuing interests outside the world of fashion to show there is more to life than strutting up and down the catwalk.

One of them is Moe Oshikiri, 33, a model for the fashion magazine AneCan who often appears on TV.

In August, she published her first novel, “Asaki Yumemishi,” which sold 20,000 copies in about two months, according to publisher Shogakukan Inc. The title is a phrase from an ancient “iroha” poem.

The novel is about a 25-year-old struggling model working part time at a supermarket to make a living. Overcoming many hardships, such as the termination of her contract and weight gain, she develops other skills to achieve success.

“A model cannot be remembered unless she poses in a way that no other rivals do,” said Oshikiri, who previously released an essay titled “Model Shikkaku” (“Disqualified Model”). “So I thought I should write a novel about something no one can write.”

Readers of the book are mainly men and women in their 20s and 30s, Shogakukan said.

The publisher also said it has received comments from some readers that the book gave them the opportunity to take a fresh look at themselves.

Other models expanding their reach include Aiku Maikawa, 25, a CanCam model, who has organized a photo exhibition, and Shizuka Kondo, 29, who is also a licensed food coordinator who writes recipes for a magazine.

Shiho, 37, teaches yoga and wrote a book about it, while Jun Hasegawa, 27, from Hawaii is an advocate of “tabiran” running at travel destinations.

Some analysts say that an increasing number of “dokumo,” or readers-turned-models whom readers can easily relate to, are threatening the survival of professional models.

They also said that more and more ordinary women are interested in fashion and that professional models need something extra to survive.

The trend is also spreading to actors and comedians. Actor Mokomichi Hayami, 29, has become even more popular since displaying his cooking skills on TV.

“When we think about a way to survive these days, obtaining various skills should be one important means,” said Mifuyu Ando, 33, who advocates a “nomad” style of working — working beyond one category of business or occupation, or working outside the office.

Ando explained that in an era of globalization, no one can avoid competing with rivals outside Japan and that it will be too hard to come out on top in one field.

“Soaring to the top among 100 people around you in three different fields (instead of winning the No. 1 position in one field throughout the entire world) will give you a strong personality and advantage,” Ando said.

“I suppose that having various talents would help you create your own niche domain,” she said.