The Ukrainian-born winner of a Miss Japan contest has reawakened a long-simmering question on the archipelago: What does it mean to be Japanese?

Karolina Shiino, the 26-year-old winner of this year’s competition, moved to the country when she was five and became a citizen last year. Her unexpected victory in a contest that most years passes little-noticed has sparked a debate on "Japaneseness” — one that is less simple than you might think.

Not everyone was delighted with Shiino’s victory. But it’s not merely a question of a bigoted older generation pushing back on change. Almost everyone accepts that according to the rules, Shiino deserves to win the contest. But Miss Japan, a domestic event unrelated to the more familiar Miss World and Miss Universe titles, also explicitly says its goal is to find "true Japanese beauty.”