Meeting Miss Universe Japan, the ‘half’ who has it all


I felt an almost star-struck excitement at the chance to interview the newly crowned Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto. I mean, she’s all the rage, right?

Her name has lit up social media like the constellations since her coronation. Black media can’t stop talking about her. To many, she is yet another global validation of black beauty in the flesh, a young woman who overcame prejudice and race-based adversity to achieve the previously unachievable. How do you not talk about her? Even some of the big dogs, like CNN and Reuters, have given her the time of day, spreading her name and compelling story to media markets everywhere.

Well, almost everywhere.

According to Ariana, most of the major news outlets here in Japan have yet to give her story its due. Beyond the announcement of her having won the pageant — and the obligatory allusions to her not being a full-fledged member of the Japanese race — there hasn’t been much said or done. No one has taken a comprehensive look at this remarkable woman’s journey, nor has there been any discussion of what an Ariana victory at the Miss Universe contest could (potentially) mean for the future of Japan. Her manager, seated beside her, whipped out a stack of business cards he’d collected from media people on their interviewing spree, and he, too, lamented the under-representation of their homeland among them.

“Japanese people don’t even recognize me. Only foreigners recognize me!” Ariana said, clearly to her chagrin, though her brilliant smile never faltered.

So, I said — because I sensed that this underexposure was more than just a surprising development to her, but a disheartening one as well — that our newspaper is read widely. I almost added jokingly, “so even more foreigners in Japan will recognize you at the konbini,” but, true as it may be (this being a paper read primarily by English speakers), I didn’t say it, ’cause it bordered on sarcasm, and I’ve long since learned that sarcasm — at least my brand of it — is wasted on most Japanese people.

And that’s the thing! Looking across the conference table at this beauty, with that “butter pecan Rican” skin, with that kinky new hair growth sprouting out from beneath a perm, with a nose and lips like the “high yellow” girl that me and all the guys wanted to get with in high school (who never gave any of us the time of day, cuz she was into college cats with cars and cash), it would have been very easy to get it as twisted as many Japanese have.

But my very first impression of her, before question one crossed my lips, was this: Despite her appearance (and, as evidenced by the compulsive bowing, that standard awkwardness people here tend to have when there’s a gaijin in their midst or English is being spoken in the vicinity, and her use of some of those heavily accented Japanese go-to English phrases) standing before me was undoubtedly a Japanese soul . . . encased in the chassis of the next black supermodel!

The next day at work, I showed a picture I’d taken with Ariana to a co-worker.

“She’s beautiful,” the co-worker said. “Is she your girlfriend?”

“No,” I said, a grin frozen on my face. “She’s Ariana Miyamoto.”

“Miyamoto? She has a Japanese name?”

“She’s Japanese!” I said, still grinning, though I felt a pang shoot through me. “She’s the reigning Miss Universe Japan.”

“Oh? Oh, yeah! She’s hāfu (half), right? Yeah, she is pretty, but I don’t think she is Japanese enough to represent Japan, you know? I mean, she doesn’t look Japanese and she isn’t . . . do you know junsui?”

“Pure”? My mouth dropped. I was speechless. She just flat out, matter-of-factly, disqualified Ariana for the title already in her possession, using her blood status as the reason. And this was from the sweetest woman in the office.

I had my own struggles with her appearance. Throughout the interview, I had to remind myself she was a Japanese woman. Especially when she said things I’ve never heard any other Japanese person utter in my 10-year tenure here.

Even answers to perfunctory questions like, “If you were to win, what kind of message would you like to share with the world?” garnered answers like, “I’d really like to spread awareness around the world about racial discrimination.”

In my research for this interview, it seemed every story focused primarily on Ariana’s biracial background, the disapproval of other Japanese at the pageant selecting her to represent Japan, and the tribulations of her upbringing here on this purportedly homogeneous archipelago.

“Do you want to talk about this hāfu business or would you prefer to talk about something else for a change?” I asked, trying to be considerate, though keenly aware of the irony (as I’d like to think she was) that if she didn’t have this “race angle” to her story, and the foulness it has revealed about some of her compatriots’ thoughts on the matter — if she were just another beauty queen and a card-carrying member of the tanitsu-minzoku (racially homogeneous) — her fortune might likely be the reverse: Japanese paparazzi, admirers and autograph seekers stalking her every step, and likely not a peep from the controversy-hungry Western media.

So it came as no surprise that she wanted to talk about her blood status.

“In Japan, without using that term “hāfu,” I don’t think I’d be able to communicate the viewpoint of someone who is mixed,” Ariana said. “Even if I introduce myself as Japanese, it will most likely not be accepted.”

But she is Japanese, I reminded myself again. It was getting easier. Especially considering every word that came out of her mouth was in Japanese at full speed, only a third of which I could catch.

I mentioned to her that I knew quite a few hāfu and had read about the experiences of others, and that some of them had come to resent a culture and people who’d sooner “otherize” than embrace them. I was curious how she managed not to develop a dislike of life here, thinking perhaps she might offer some helpful tips for my friends and readers here raising biracial, particularly half-black, children.

“I was born in this country and I grew up here, and I could only speak Japanese. This is my home country; it’s not a matter of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes,’ ” she said simply. “Since my dad is an American, I look like a foreigner, so I used to think, ‘It’s cool having U.S. citizenship,’ and so I went there. But in America I couldn’t understand the culture, and it was then that I realized, ‘Without a doubt, I’m Japanese.’

“Growing up in Japan was really tough, as I had a complex about being hāfu,” she said. “But my mom would tell me, ‘Your skin is wonderful,’ and ‘You’re one of a kind.’ And, when I was getting bullied, she’d say, ‘They’re only bullying you because they’re jealous.’ ”

And this maternal kindness did assuage some of the pain. But it wasn’t her mother’s platitudes that spurred her to take action. It was the suicide of a good friend, a fellow hāfu (half-white) she’d attended school with.

“I’ll never know the full story behind why he killed himself,” she said. “But certainly he had had counseling — he couldn’t speak English, and had developed a complex about that. In terms of looks, he really looked like a foreigner, but because he couldn’t speak English, people made fun of him. On top of that, Japanese people wouldn’t accept him.”

And it seems that this tragedy was the final straw, for since that time, she has been on a mission to change the face of her beloved Japan.

The residual American in me would like to think that her two years in the U.S. also helped shape her vision and informed her that if she waited in the shadows for a society that has been known to be stagnant at times to accept her and other hāfu as they are, she’ll likely be waiting in vain. So she decided to go out and get herself a platform so that her message could be heard broadly, using the assets at her disposal — namely, her wits, self-determination and the aforementioned chassis. Gotta admire that. Now she has an international megaphone.

She spoke of her time in America as a much-needed breather.

“There are lots of people from all kinds of countries (in America), so I felt relaxed,” she said. “My family is all black, so I felt relieved. I was like, ‘Wow, these people are the same color as me!’ Over there, I definitely felt a sense of peace — it was easy to live there.

“I’d like Japan to be an easier place to live,” she added, “but Japan has some fundamental problems that it still hasn’t solved, in my opinion. These problems need to be dealt with right now. One thing is that the Japanese population is shrinking, and if foreigners come and aren’t accepted, I’d be concerned about what will happen to Japan, and so I’d like to see Japan adopt a more global outlook.

“And with more and more international marriages, more children will be born from these marriages, and in this way I hope Japan will become an easier place to live.”

I’m very proud of this young woman’s accomplishments thus far, and I wish her success in the coming months as she represents Japan in the international pageant. I also admire her courage for standing up for what essentially is her birthright, and the birthright of all hāfus in Japan who’ve been treated like tourists or even trespassers on their own land.

As a black American, and the product of a country that has treated its black citizens similarly for centuries, I can readily identify with her struggle. She’s sure to draw the ire of her own people for speaking out on such a sensitive subject, and that makes her even more remarkable.

Progress occurs when people of substance assume the mantle of leadership, and it appears Ariana Miyamoto is equal to the task.

Black Eye appears in print on the third Monday of every month. Your comments and ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Winter 冬

    It’s an amazing opportunity that you actually got to interview Ariana. It’s interesting yet, also kind of sad to see how she sees things through her eyes.

    • Jerry Alan Carroll

      however I am willing to bet she is seen much less ijime than any American has an American school

  • galleymac

    What a strong, amazing girl.

  • socrateos

    Kudos to those Japanese people who selected her as a representative of their country.

    After the news came out about the Miss Universe Japan, I was surprised at first when I found out that many non-Japanese people were also saying “she does not look Japanese” in their posts to various blogs and news sites that I read.

    In this article, the author, who is well aware of the issue of racism around her story, confesses that he had to remind himself that she was really a Japanese while interviewing her. Why? Obviously she did not fit into his image of a Japanese person. In other words, she did not look Japanese to him.

    Is such a feeling racism?

    • Drena Griffith

      I think the author is using his own honesty and vulnerability in order to help make the story more compelling. Racism isn’t typically as conscious–or thoughtful.

      Fact of the matter is, if we all told the truth we would have to admit to harboring intense and at least implicitly biased thoughts about some other member of our society: a transgender person, someone with a facial deformity or missing limb (we try not to stare, not to give offense)…two girls kissing in a line at Starbucks, a child with Down Syndrome, an interracial couple or an autumn-spring romance with an age difference of over 30 years between them..

      (Several weeks ago a neighbor out of the blue started complaining about those Hispanics who she knew didn’t have “papers.” Another woman I once knew became deeply enraged by being asked whether or not she wanted a bag for her purchase. “No,” she yelled. “We want you to save the Earth.”. We all have our pet issues, right–things that bother us and things that don’t (and how dare anyone be offended by that!)

      But I don’t know a single person, no matter how open minded, that doesn’t have a trigger somewhere–something that makes him or her hold back slightly. (For one friend it was wealthy families of children with special needs–because they had the resources that poor families in similar situations did not.) The common theme is that, depending upon the eyes of the viewer, anything that causes us to “objectify” the other can be called discrimination. “Those” wealthy people, “that” tree killer, those people…they, they, they. . .. all symptoms of the same disease. . .

      But I remember a mentor, (a lesbian, and deeply sensitive to discrimination over sexual orientation) confessing to me once how it freaked her out to see a close male friend in drag…for a moment, her reality of him was blurred and he very patiently and kindly calmed her down, saying, “It’s okay–it’s me. It’s okay.” Her unedited honesty gave me courage to face some of my own inner demons, times when I feel like I should’ve known better not to feel certain ways–but obviously didn’t.

      My point–if we’re all too afraid to tell the truth about how we really feel, then the world we’re mutually creating and sustaining will forever be one with a false face.

      So I don’t think questioning/seeking to label the feelings of someone so honest–and conscious enough of the issues being discussed to tell the truth– as “racist” is really serving the larger discussion either Baye or Ariana are hoping to have.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        I think the author is trying too hard to make Black her identity.

      • Drena Griffith

        Interesting observation. Maybe the author identifies himself more with her Black side as a way of relating to her experience–and so focuses more on the parts of her that reflect that…. But this is hardly the first article that has pointed out that she’s biracial. I don’t think I’ve read any article that has been a simple acknowledgement of her being chosen as Miss Universe Japan without focusing upon the elephant in the room. . She’s clearly Japanese, though, and I think that’s the point of the exchange. Also, the mention of her friend who committed suicide really qualified the struggle for me. I honestly don’t think if Ariana were half White or half Korean or half anything else she would be having an easier time right now.

      • Baby Shoes

        He’s a Black from the United States that’s all he sees is race and racism.

      • Candy Rowe

        She is half black. The author is black. Clearly he will identify with her half black side which is the issue many Japanese people have with her being crowned to represent them.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Very few people are making it an issue or care. I work with over 300 Japanese and maybe 1% have an issue…the rest don’t. The US is making more of an issue of this than Japan.

      • R0ninX3ph

        How many of those 300 people even know who she is? Surely, the only percentage that matters are the percent who even pay attention to Miss Universe right? If 99% of those 300 people don’t know who she is, you have no idea whether they have an issue with her. So that 1% could be 100% of the people who know of her, have an issue with her.

        Its easy to twist and make up statistics.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying the percentage who knows who she is, is the relevant statistic. I work with over 300 Japanese people too, and the vast majority look at me blankly when I bring up her name, as they don’t even know who she is.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Which only serves to prove my point….if they don’t know who she is then why would they care?

      • Candy Rowe

        Jerry take your blinders off and try to understand what we’re saying. This is NOT an US issue sir. It’s an issue right here in peaceful la la Japan where everything is all peaches and creame according to you and the 300 people you work with.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Um….I live here in Japan. Been here since 92. I KNOW what I am talking about unlike you. Love how visitors think they know what is going on here

      • Steve Jackman

        Seems to me that you have not learned very much about Japan in all the years you’ve been here, since you claimed in another post to know the true feelings of all 300 of your Japanese co-workers and you stated that 99% of them don’t have an issue with Ariana.

        This is an extraordinary claim on your part, since most Japanese rarely tell their foreign colleagues at work their true feelings about sensitive subjects like race. Perhaps, it is time for you to rethink your assumptions about the country you claim to have lived in since 1992.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        the more you talk the more you sound like just another visitor so I suggest you learn the language a little more

      • R0ninX3ph

        Its a bit of a leap to go from “they don’t know her” to “they don’t care if someone of mixed-parentage represents Japan in an international beauty contest”.

        Just because they don’t know who she is, doesn’t mean those people wouldn’t care that a “non-pure” Japanese person is their representative. (Note, I use non-pure as a descriptor, I do not believe in ethnic purity and believe she is as Japanese as any other Japanese person.)

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Funny….in the lunchroom I brought this up to 8 co workers.
        Seems even more know about it since this ms Japan is getting more press than any previous one. All 8 said they really don’t care….. especially since she was prettier than her competition.
        No leap any more…..law of averages is on my side.

      • R0ninX3ph

        That makes your argument far stronger. I wasn’t trying to say you were wrong, just that lack of knowledge didn’t prove lack of caring. That was all.

      • Baby Shoes

        In the end who really watches these chessy shows anyways?

      • Steve Jackman

        Jerry Alan Carroll, don’t you think it is extremely presumptuous of you to say that you know the true feelings of all 300 Japanese colleagues you work with? This is exactly what you are doing by writing, “I work with over 300 Japanese and maybe 1% have an issue…the rest don’t”.

        Perhaps, you do not realize that the Japanese are famously tight lipped about such issues, especially with work colleagues. I’d be careful making such sweeping statements, since they come across as lacking credibility.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        On the contrary…your comment is presumptuous. You assume my relationship level is so low that I don’t know these folks after being with this company since 2001 and living here since 1992.
        But you are probably just another visitor to Japan and have no clue.

      • Steve Jackman

        No, I’m not a visitor in Japan. I’ve been living in Japan for over a decade and have worked at some very well known Japanese and American companies here in fairly senior level positions. Prior to that, I worked in the corporate world in my home country of America. I have never met anyone who claims to know the true feelings of all 300 of their coworkers on sensitive issues like race, the way you claim to.

      • Baby Shoes

        They always do and it’s really annoying.

      • ZXNova

        If he were trying to make her identity black, how come many times in the article he mentioned ‘she was Japanese’?

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Next time try comprehension instead of word counting.

    • Drena Griffith

      Also, as an aside, I lived in Japan for several years. Like you I applaud the ones who selected her to represent Japan and see it as a great sign. At the same time, from my experience living there I am not surprised by the backlash…I almost think, though, that you have to understand Japan on its own terms and not through Western eyes in order for what Ariana is going through to make sense. There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “the nail that sticks out will be pounded down.” A lot of the backlash is fear of change and lack of cultural security. Ariana challenges the established paradigm in a country that lacks diversity on multiple levels, not just racially. Yet Ariana is a pioneer and her struggle is a great one and will hopefully help change the “face” of Japan from the inside out. But, like all pioneers, her fight is a “pure” one. She has to create the path for others to follow. May her calling stay true.

    • Steve Jackman

      “Is such a feeling racism?”. The answer to your question is an unequivocal “YES”. The reason for this is that everything is said and done within a context. Unfortunately, the Japanese context within which this is being said is characterized by deeply ingrained racism and xenophobia based on physical appearance, that are so prevelant in Japan.

      For example, the first question which enters the mind of most Japanese when meeting another person is whether that person is a Japanese or a foreigner. In Japan, this is based solely on ones physical appearance and on the ideal of what a Japanese person should look like. In advanced societies like the U.S, one can be any shape, color or size, and still be an American. Sadly, not so in Japan. This is the core of the problem and the very basis of widespread racism and xenophobia which Japanese society is based on.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        They’ve enjoyed a rather homogeneous country for a long time….how would you feel in this situation? Don’t lie about it either.
        No, it isn’t right but it is human nature to not feel comfortable with those that are different than them.
        Despite all this….I won’t complain…. this is the safest country I have been in and is why it has been my home for 2 decades. I can put up with the rest and keep my mouth shut in someone else’s country. Some folks can’t.

      • Steve Jackman

        Funny, how all the posters here who are always justifying Japanese racism and xenophobia share the same characteristic, which is perfectly encapsulated by your comment that, “I can put up with the rest and keep my mouth shut in someone else’s country”.

        You claim to have lived in Japan since 1992, yet your apathy indicates that you are not very vested in it. I don’t mean to offend you in any way since I don’t know you, but don’t you think these types of statements make it sound like the writer has low self-esteem and a poor sense of self-worth?

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        Like what japan does is your business? how would you like it if I told you in your own house the right way to have sex with the wife? none of my business right?

      • Baby Shoes

        Why are you such a crusader anyways? Why do you care what the Japanese think or do? I sure don’t care how they see their country, it is theirs after all isn’t it?

      • Baby Shoes

        Why are all these Americans trying to change other countries into their own image? I’ve never understood the point in it. E.g. Koreans aren’t citizens in Japan, so what?? Why would I even be concerned about that? They sure as heck don’t care about my life in Japan.

        People ought too mind their own bloody business.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll


      • Baby Shoes

        I know Japan very well I lived there several years. They like being Japanese and by that I mean the Racial term. A Korean here for 500 years is always a Korean. The Japanese tried to absorb Koreans and other minorities years ago and they’ll always be hated for it.
        Just live your lives and leave the others alone.

      • Nicholas Hunter Folkes

        Good on the Japanese wanting to protect their identity. It is not ‘racist’ wanting to maintain a cohesive and homogenous society. It is ‘racist’ when stupid lily white American liberals want everyone to be the same. Multiculturalism destroys diversity.

      • Chief Presiding Judge

        It is racist to discriminate on arbitrary things like skin color and height.

        Nicholas you’re clearly trying to mask your racism and inner-hatred of the other with some vague sense of nationalism as a cover-up. Your generic right-wing buzzwords are also a big giveaway. Leave the basement and grow up.

      • Baby Shoes

        That’s not really true, I never think of non whites as Americans and see Blacks as an imported underclass that can never be assimilated because of culture and attitude on the Black’s part.

        Now if you’re talking about Brazil or Dominican Republic that’s a different kettle of fish. Caste system is what functions there and that’s mostly built on family wealth.

    • Nicholas Hunter Folkes

      Adriana is the racist wanting to change Japan. She is calling for a “more global outlook” meaning third world immigration. Don’t do this Japan, you will regret it.

      • R0ninX3ph

        “Adriana is the racist wanting to change Japan. She is calling for a “more global outlook” meaning third world immigration. Don’t do this Japan, you will regret it.”

        If you’re going to accuse her of being a racist, you might want to get her name correct. Her name is Ariana Miyamoto. It’s right there in the second line of the article you are commenting on.

      • Chief Presiding Judge

        It’s cute when racists like you try to flip the script. I have a fitting quote:

        “But like all bigotry, the most potent component of racism is frame-flipping — positioning the bigot as the actual victim. So the gay do not simply want to marry; they want to convert our children into sin. The Jews do not merely want to be left in peace; they actually are plotting world take-over. And the blacks are not actually victims of American power, but beneficiaries of the war against hard-working whites. This is a respectable, more sensible, bigotry, one that does not seek to name-call, preferring instead change the subject and straw man.”

        Get out of here with your BS. Adrianna is not a “racist”. You’re the racist for not accepting her, a Japanese citizen, based on your antiquated notions.

    • Toolonggone

      >Why? Obviously she did not fit into his image of a Japanese person. In other words, she did not look Japanese to him.

      Oh boy. That’s a typical fallacy logic many Japanese people use–like Baye’s colleagues.

  • ohsnaponu

    I think it says A LOT about Japan when you reflect on the Japanese judges who chose her. A deep bow to them. She (and they) have started an interesting conversation. I have been to Japan…it is startling to be in a country where most of the people look the same (although as a visitor and a black woman I was treated very well). I’ll be rooting for her.

  • John Putnam

    The writer of this story says; As a black American, and the product of a country that has treated its black citizens similarly for centuries, I can readily identify with her struggle”. I see you don’t identify yourself simply as an American and seeing other stories you have posted, you seem to have a agenda of the “black American” going on. Opportunities all over the world require only one thing, taking advantage of them. Japan is Japan and America is America, America’s history proves that it’s structor offers a wealth of opportunities and always has, for those with initiative. For the past 15 years I have seen Japan come a long way and for those who want more and not happy with the way things are in Japan, you have a few choices open to you.

    • R0ninX3ph

      “For the past 15 years I have seen Japan come a long way and for those who want more and not happy with the way things are in Japan, you have a few choices open to you.”

      What a nice covert way of saying “If you don’t like it here, you can leave”. I just ask, why should someone like Ariana Miyamoto leave her country of birth, the country she identifies with, if she doesn’t like being discriminated against? Sure, she has the option to go elsewhere, but why should she have to?

  • Tim Johnston

    She is an Amazingly beautiful strong girl.
    I respect her for confidence to be who, she is!
    I have a Hafu and hope, he doesn’t get bullied and has the confidence she had. It’s still very much an isolated country

    • Jerry Alan Carroll

      Tim…im sure there is a possibility it will happen however as a parent it is your responsibility to speak up and say something and usually when a parent does, especially a gaijin, the teachers will take notice and actually do something about it. it happened to my girls at first but I soon squashed that. My youngest is in chugakko and my oldest is kokosei. They have no issues after being in the system for so long and speak fluent Japanese. if your boy goes to school all the way from preschool to high school with the same people there will be no issues and I guarantee it

  • Ben

    Instead of focusing on all the positive points about Ms. Miyamoto, we are treated again to the blogger’s typical rants replete with his well-worn cliches (this really is lazy “writing”). And there’s always the inclusion of the irritating anecdote about the typical “nice” person in his office who just doesn’t get “it.” And to suddenly intertwine America’s race relations with Japan’s is absolutely ridiculous. What a wasted opportunity to explore something meaningful about Ms. Miyamoto’s accomplishments.

  • Mark

    These so-called beauty pageants need to be eliminated. Nothing more than exploitation. And if these women truly desired equal rights and mutual respect then they would not participate in such garbage.

  • Ben

    why is this newspaper censoring critiques of Mr. Mcneils blogging? i guess freedom of the speech is meaningless here.

  • SuSu

    I can’t wait to hear her speak English….I noticed she doesn’t use it. She will do well in finals.

  • Selena

    Nice interview, and I’m glad to see voices like hers getting a platform. We need to hear more opinions like this as we grow as a country.

  • Aaron B.

    It is a shame that Japanese media is not covering her like the foreign press corps. I will be pulling for her to win.

    • Hendrix

      Japanese media couldnt give a damn, they see her as a foreigner or less than Japanese… most people in Japan probably dont know anything about her as they dont see her as being “Japanese” enough and the media dont seem to get the importance of her breaking the mould so its like some circus show to them.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        ..no one really cares about the pageants here…in fact this pageant has had more coverage in the last 5 combined only because she is half

    • The local media rarely spends much time on coverage of the Miss Universe pageant, or the women who win the total of “Miss Universe Japan”. If Ms. Miyamoto parlays this into a TV career, the fact that she was a former “Miss Universe Japan” will of course be mentioned, but at this point she is mostly an unknown. Japan certainly has its share of beauty pageants, but for better or worse Miss Tokyo University seems to get as much or more coverage than Miss Universe, which is to say about 5 minutes on the afternoon Wide Show, to be forgotten the next day.

  • Jerry Alan Carroll

    these days every show has the Token Haafu. that is why it is not a big deal here in Japan. That is why there is no coverage really. Too bad.

    • Jerry Alan Carroll

      Note….now I see lots of coverage…way more than past pageants

  • mischling2nd

    That’s a major reason for black American elites’ fanatical support of forced hypodescent and the one-drop myth. They want the privilege of race-mixing while pleading “not guilty” on a technicality.

    And that’s the thing! Looking across the conference table at this beauty, with that “butter pecan Rican” skin, with that kinky new hair growth sprouting out from beneath a perm, with a nose and lips like the “high yellow” girl that me and all the guys wanted to get with in high school (who never gave any of us the time of day, cuz she was into college cats with cars and cash), it would have been very easy to get it as twisted as many Japanese have.

  • Hendrix

    To the western media her story is one of a struggle against racism and ignorance and that is a story people in the west want to hear, as for the Japanese media (and people) its completely lost on them..in fact she is probably seen as the bad guy for daring to stand out from the crowd and pretend to be Japanese because she isnt “pure” that is why the J media hasnt bothered to really get stuck into this story, she is seen as a liability.. on my reckoning it will take another few generations for the penny to drop for Japan that ehinc purity is a myth.

  • Catherine Reston

    So it’s okay to decry racism and ethnocentrism, but sexism is just fine? Seriously — Bay Mcneil makes two breathless references to his admiring Ariana’s “chassis.” Good God. Classic feminist poseur: focuses on the ‘value’ of Ariana’s body, then compares her to a car — what is this, 1950?

    • Candy Rowe

      Sexism? I see it was lost on you too.

      • Catherine Reston

        Lost? No. When you reduce Ariana to ‘“butter pecan Rican” skin, with that kinky new hair growth sprouting out from beneath a perm, with a nose and lips like the “high yellow” girl,’and a ‘chassis’, nothing is lost.

    • Jirro707

      I and many of my friends agree with you, if I were her reading this article I would feel totally disrespected.

    • ZXNova

      Go away Tumblr

      • Chief Presiding Judge

        Go away pol.

  • Pique Ewe

    “Progress occurs when people of substance assume the mantle of leadership, and it appears Ariana Miyamoto is equal to the task.” (Baye McNeil)

    Kudos, Mr. McNeil, on a well written, thoughtful, and touching article. This has to be my favorite coverage on Ms. Miyamoto to date, and, coincidentally, the best piece of journalism I have enjoyed over the last few months anywhere, and I do read a lot, all over the spectrum. This U.S. resident Korean is grateful because I have really taken to this beautiful woman of dignity, wit, sophistication, intelligence, and courage. She has my vote for the Person Of The Year, to date. (That she is a dead ringer for a few of my beloved childhood dolls probably helps.)

    I have learned to be skeptical of native English speakers abroad in The Orient practicing journalism or English instruction over the years, but running into this article has convinced me to keep the faith in humanity on the other side of the globe. I am especially thankful for your last sentence which I have quoted above. Absolutely, brother. It does my heart such good to see Japan is not only gifted with such a jewel as Ms. Miyamoto but also blessed with a journalist of your high caliber. What a fortunate nation! A former pageant participant myself, I have not tuned into any pageants in decades (because they have become quite boring and the quality has really gone down since my day) but let me tell you that I will be RIVETED to the Miss Universe Pageant all the way to the end, this cycle.

    I am thrilled for Ms. Miyamoto. And for Miss Universe Pageant. And for Japan, however much it is deserving of this piece of good fortune or aware of it as being such. Good stuff will come of this, even if it is hurtful and ugly at times in the beginning. It will do the World a world of good. Behold, the Power of Beauty.

  • Gotterdammerung

    I feel sorry for Ariana Miyamoto. Not because of her success as a
    beauty pageant contestant, but because it seems like she’s being used.

    She’s black when people need her to be and Japanese when other people need her to be.

    Miss Japan Pageant was started by Inès Ligron, a French “fashion and
    beauty expert” in Asia. Apparently she doesn’t run the contest anymore,
    but it’s interesting that no one can find out who the judges are. I
    would guess that she carefully chose her successors; like-minded people
    who probably share similar views. People with an agenda.

    • Candy Rowe

      I don’t think being ‘used’ this way is a bad thing sometimes. She has something to say that needs to be said. Let her use this platform to say it. You think she’s using them and they are using her? win-win right?

  • Joe Kurosu, M.D.

    I think she has an amazing story to tell, but there seems to be too much emphasis on her physical attributes. Perhaps we could focus on the content of her character rather than her measurements or melanin content of her skin…but, yes, I am failing to appreciate the nature of the beauty pageant…Best of luck to her!

    • Candy Rowe

      I understand what you’re saying about focusing on her character, but at this point, the elephant in the room is her ‘physical attribute’, her hafu-ness. With mixed kids being abuse, this discussion is needed NOW. Let’s not ignore it.

      • Ben

        candy, troll much?

    • Jirro707

      I and many of my friends totally agree with you. If I were her reading this article I would feel totally disrespected.

    • ZXNova

      Ariana is Miss Universe Japan. She reached her position BECAUSE of her looks and physical attributes. So when you’re saying you’re focusing too much on her appearance, it’s like saying you’re focusing too much on an art piece’s appearance rather than the paint or whatever that made it. Yes, I know, and I’m sure McNeil knows that she is a human being and has feelings and character content like anyone else, but you’re missing the point that she’s Miss Universe Japan.

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        She really had no competition…. she was the best looking overall for sure. As long as she is a Japanese citizen and pays her taxes….that is all that should matter.

      • Nicholas Hunter Folkes

        Yeah but she wants Japan to open its doors to more third world immigration, that’s genocide.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I’m not sure you know what the term genocide means.

      • Joe Kurosu, M.D.

        Yes, you are absolutely correct, and therein lies the irony of this piece…

  • shanchan

    I think she recognizes that she is but one wheel in a series of many gears that will be required to change the society in which she lives. Even a small gear can turn a great clock. I’m sure she is aware that she probably won’t live to see these changes come to fruition, but she knows that what she is doing is key in making them happen. Like others have said, it will likely be several more generations before some like her is considered Japanese, but the important thing is it happens.

    After all, change is like building a cathedral. Those who begin it, will likely never see it finished.

  • Ben

    why publish only rave reviews about this blog? not everyone is impressed with Mcneil’s repetitive “insight” into racism in japan. i found the blog sexist, simplistic and barely worth reading. but i’m sure this post will be deleted anyways.

    • Jirro707

      I and many of my friends totally agree with you. If I were her reading this article I would feel totally disrespected.

  • Anil Samal

    Why to called Half ? It should be double.
    They know two language, two culture…
    Double is the correct word :)

    • Born in Japan, raised in Japan by a single mother, there is nothing “double” about Ms. Miyamoto. She may speak English, and she lived in America for two years, but I can point you to any number of Japanese who have done that (or similar), and they are not “double” anything.

      • Anil Samal

        I was just wondering how the adjective “Half” come into use for the children born from two different culture.
        If you say it should not be Double neither it should be Half.
        Just rewrite your sentence again, and read.

        Born in Japan, raised in Japan by a single mother, there is nothing
        “Half” about Ms. Miyamoto. She may speak English, and she lived in
        America for two years, but I can point you to any number of Japanese who
        have done that (or similar), and they are not “Halft” anything.

      • Sam Gilman


        Although the Japanese word “hāfu” comes from the English word “half”, it doesn’t mean “half”. (Just as “handoru” in a car means steering wheel, not “handle”)

        “Hāfu” means mixed race/nationality. Where in English you might describe someone as “half-German, half-French”, in Japanese you would say “doitsu-jin to furansu-jin no hāfu.” It’s a technical term, really.

        In Japan, because usually the context is someone who is half-Japanese and half something else, some English speakers don’t like the word “hāfu” because they have convinced themselves that it must mean that “the Japanese” (note scare quotes) view their child as only half a person. Many of these same people insist that the word should be “daburu” (“double”).

        Personally, I find the word “double” annoying as it is politically loaded. It effectively prescribes a specific attitude towards a child’s identity and how one should bring them up to see themselves, and actually to me seems to be a strategy for devaluing or even denying the “Japaneseness” of kids who are born and grow up in Japan and see the place as home. My children’s ethnicity (igirisu-jin no hāfu) is a given. Their identity is for them to work out in a supportive environment, not for me – or anyone else – to impose.

      • Anil Samal

        Thanks :)

      • “Half”, in Japanese usage, or “half-(something)” in English usage, have in neither case anything to do with culture. Only ethnicity. In English usage, one could be “half-French and half-Belgian” based on ancestry, but yet be neither French nor Belgian but anther British or Canadian or American.

        “Half” in Japanese usage means “not 100% ethnically Japanese”, with the “other” percentage not particularly mattering it seems. Rora is referred to as “half” when she is really 3/8 Japanese and 5/8 “other”. But then again, Rie Miyazawa is half-Japanese, half-Dutch, but no-one refers to her as “half” in Japanese.

      • Sam Gilman

        To be picky: In this context, “hāfu” means half-not-Japanese, but “hāfu” does not mean in general “not 100% ethnically Japanese”. It’s applied to anyone of any combination of nationalities/ethnicities, not only where one parent is Japanese.

      • You are of course correct, and I have heard folks referred to as “Supein-jin to Firipin-jin no ha-fu”. I was a bit too focused on the particular case to hand (Ms. Miyamoto).

      • Jerry Alan Carroll

        wrong….just Google 宮沢りえ ハーフ…..they do refer to her as half despite her father leaving before Die was born.

      • Yes, but I meant she is not introduced as “ha-fu”, not in the same way Rora or Anthony or Lovely or any of the “new generation” are.

        Perhaps it is because she is “established”, perhaps it is because just as folks don’t talk about her apparent anorexia they don’t want to bring up her absentee father, I don’t know.

      • Nicholas Hunter Folkes

        What happened to her father? Another black delinquent running away from responsibility of parenthood.

      • Anil Samal

        Yes may be.
        Single mother is more in Japan than any other country.

        The gretest problem of Japan is single mother. Men run out of their responsibility. Or family do not want them in home.

    • RaceFighter

      “Nihonjin” is the correct word. Why create a separate category of people to describe a human being? They are “Japanese,” “Nihonjin,” or just “a person.”

      • Anil Samal


      • Chief Presiding Judge


      • Baby Shoes

        Not in most of the world, this is a leftist American idea and Japanese and other East Asians don’t play that game.

    • sparkleandglitter

      I have a Japanese parent and a non-Japanese parent and I hate the word ‘double’ – it makes me feel like a freak.
      Very few mixed people choose it for themselves, but if they prefer it, that’s their choice. If anything I prefer the word ‘mixed’ but I don’t get offended – my two halves make me a whole.

  • Jerry Alan Carroll

    She might look more Japanese and get away with it. Being half black makes her stand out more. Longer legs, larger bosom, no flat face…..folks just jealous that she is 100% natural unlike some of the winners in the past

  • Nicholas Hunter Folkes

    Japan does not need black or third world immigration, it will destroy Japan. Learn form the West – our nations have become fractured and divided due to decades of third world immigration coupled with multicultural policies. I live in Nagoya, Japan back in 1990 and 1991 and really enjoyed my stay. Japan, do not open your doors to third worlders, you will regret it.

    • Anil Samal

      Hope rest of the world thinks the same way. Stop import and export from Japan.
      Then only people like you understand 95% what you eat comes from other country.

    • Chief Presiding Judge

      Yawn. Generic buzzwords from an angry right-winger trying to mask his racism with nationalism. Void of logic and full of contradictions.

      Apparently you said you lived in Japan, and that’s fine (because it’s you), but others aren’t allowed? There’s no difference between you and a “third worlder”. Leave the basement and grow up.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I’ve read a number of his other posts through his profile on disqus, I think you’re right. He is nothing but a racist right-wing whackadoodle, who makes me ashamed to be Australian (I assume he is Australian from his posts on various Australian news pieces complaining about Australian politics)

  • wrle

    If she was Korean, it would be more difficult to tell just by appearance. But that would still lead to ethnic and race related issues.

  • orchid64

    There is a lot of ethnocentrism in the world and none of us are free from it. As the products of Western culture, we believe diversity and inclusion are the correct viewpoints to hold. As products of Japanese culture, Japanese people see things differently. They are acculturated to look at blood, not birthplace or the country on the front of their passport. This situation leaves me torn between my Western mentality and coming to a point of acknowledging that the Japanese have a right to their own thinking on such matters. Questions of purity essentially do not matter as long as they are of trivial concern. If a person is discriminated against, denied rights or privileges, or treated differently as a result of a perceived lack of purity, then that is an issue. If this is really quibbling about pedigree, then I’m not sure that it matters. If she was chosen to represent Japan, then it’s hard to think that this is about denying her anything. I think that a big part of the talk about how she appears (not looking “Japanese”) relate back to the narrow definition of identity in Japan. While Americans have a broad definition, Japanese do not. I’m not sure that it’s my place to question how they choose to define themselves. I’m not sure that it isn’t my place to question it either. It’s something to think about.

  • R0ninX3ph

    “But it should also be pointed out that our winner Tomomi Kondo, went to Venezuela and won the word title, showing that Japanese girls can win world titles, but the national Japanese media have not reported on that either. ”

    Well… Its a good thing Ariana Miyamoto IS Japanese so she too can go to the Miss Universe contest and possibly win that world title.

    “Our main 2 Miss Great Britain (running annually since 1945) heats were also culturally diverse;”

    In Great Britain it isn’t often that someone who claims to be British would be yelled down at saying they aren’t British because they were born to parents who aren’t “ethnically pure”. (Because Eugenics and Ethnic Purity disappeared nearly 100 years ago). So, “culturally diverse” women winning a beauty contest is hardly anywhere near as impressive in a multi-cultural multi-ethnic nation as it is in Japan.

    • Trevor Dare

      Yes let us hope Ariana wins the world title for Japan.

  • MCD

    I lived in Japan for 8 years and I miss it immensely.

    But I remember being p1ssed off at the time at the casual, incessant racism I either saw or experienced. But with the passage of time I began t o wonder if I’d been over-sensitive or seeing racism where none existed. Whenever I get ‘natsukashii’ pangs and feel that I’d like to move back, this sort of article remind me that yes, Japan is a racist place, and it seems to be making no progress at all.

  • MB C

    I’m not Japanese but my wife is and my son has mixed parentage. He appears more Caucasian than Japanese. It can be tiresome, but I will still correct people every time: my son is not hafu, he is double.

  • michig911 ( Honky!!!)

    Hats off to the judges. Just like her mother told her as a child, they bully her because “they are jealous of her” Keep up the good fight.

  • Macarons & Sakura Tea

    This morning, two of my friends [half-Japanese] from Tokyo who are in the country for a short summer vacay paid me a surprise visit and over coffee, I grabbed the chance to ask them about Ariana. We have the same experience, Mr. McNeil. They likewise said she is undoubtedly a beauty but, unfortunately, is not Japanese-looking enough to represent the country. I wonder and I have yet to ask my other friends who are ‘junsui’. Anyway, here’s me wishfully thinking that she strolls down to Shinjuku this weekend and I wouldn’t waste time to ask her for an autograph. What a beautiful, brave young lady. I wish her the best.

  • The article refers to the “Japanese race”. There is no such racial category. The Japanese are a collection of races. Kind of ironic that an article on racial awareness reinforces mistaken racial prejudices.

  • Mother Nature’s Son

    “butter pecan Rican” skin, with that kinky new hair growth sprouting out
    from beneath a perm, with a nose and lips like the “high yellow”.

    all racists have their preferences. I like golden retrievers. this is 100 propaganda. all her beauty is negated by her pushing her halfrican blood.
    go to hell

  • Baby Shoes

    She’s not Japanese and if she was back home in America McNeil would be in a hissy fit insisting she identify as Black. This guy is a one trick pony and his trick is all about “Racism”.

    Quite pathetic

  • MiltsSon

    Thanks for the informative interview. It was an interesting read.

  • Phil Kong

    Japan has no obligation to promote a micro-minority of less than 2 percent of its population. In fact Japan is a majority asian nation and yet this women who looks completely black was chosen to represent their nation. I hope that japan does not allow itself to become a multicultural state and instead chooses to preserve their own natural beauty.