Japan is one of the biggest nations in the world for modeling. Not only is there a huge national industry, but around the world aspiring models and recruitment centers send off their promising future stars to the country in order to train to become one of the world’s best. Getting on the cover of Vogue Japan still stands as one of the biggest honors in the world of modeling, it’s a huge and artistically challenging market.
Some of the most beautiful women in the world are from Japan, so it’s not surprising that they have some of the world’s most stunning models. While many of them work in the high fashion industry, there is also a huge market for glamour and commercial modeling too. So, there is a huge diversity of models that you might not necessarily expect. Some have achieved international fame, while some are better known at home. Regardless, learning from models from around the world is the best kind of stay-cation.
Unlike models from other countries, in Japan it almost seems like a prerequisite that you diversify your interests. It’s incredibly rare that a model will be known primarily for her editorial or glamour work. Nearly every model on this list also works on television, in music or in another arena of popular culture. We kinda love the idea, since it means that most of these girls are more than just a pretty face and really bring something new to the table.
This is just a small selection of our very favorite models from Japan. We would love to know who your favorites are.
15. Miyako Miyazaki
Like many Japanese models, Miyako Miyazaki got her start in pageants. In 2003 she won the Miss Universe Japan competition and represented her country in the Miss Universe competition that year, making it to the top five. She was named the sexiest women alive that year as well. Since then her career has only flourished and she’s come to represent major brands all over the world. When Miyako Miyazaki is not modeling, she has a huge passion for literature and has an arts degree. Her overall look is sleek and elegant, though she clearly has a wild streak. Her presence at Miss Universe was particularly disputed, as some felt that a last minute change to a more conservative costume (she preferred something more ostentatious) lost her a chance at a higher position.
14. Rosa Kato
Half Japanese and half Italian, Rosa Kato has a very distinct look. With small features and large eyes, she looks like an anime character come to life. Incredibly beautiful, she got her modeling career in bridal magazines but soon moved on to bigger things. Like many Japanese models, she soon transitioned to a pretty successful career on television, and even won an award for best newcomer for a show called Dance Drill in 2006. In 2011, Rosa Kato married famous Japanese football player Daisuke Matsui, who currently plays for Júbilo Iwata. The pair have one child together. Like many Japanese models, Rosa Kato really has an appearance of a living doll, it’s seriously uncanny.
13. Masami Nagasawa
While Masami Nagasawa works as a model, she is best known as one of Japan’s most famous actresses. Well known in her native country for her work on television and in the movies, some of her movies have even crossed over to international fame, including Our Little Sister (2016) and a voice on the animated film From Up On Poppy Hill (2011). Clearly a woman of many talents, she has also recorded an album and performed on stage. In the most Japanese trivia item ever, she is apparently an avid collector of stickers. She has won a number of awards and worked as a model mostly due to her acting fame. With more awards than we can count, Masami Nagasawa is so much more than a pretty face and has established herself as one of the top acting talents in the country. You honestly can’t look anywhere in Japan without stumbling upon Masami Nagasawa.
12. Rio Matsumoto
Continuing the triple threat of Japanese celebrities, Rio Matsumoto is a model, actress and singer. Incredibly beautiful, we’re not surprised she’s chosen to diversify so that more people could enjoy her presence. She is most famous for her TV work, which she’s appeared on since the 1990s. Doing research on her work and life, as with other Japanese models, there seems to be a Japanese fascination with listing their favourite celebrities blood types. So, it’s common knowledge that Rio has a blood type B! Rio Matsumoto normally wears her hair as a lighter shade of brown that really suits her complexion, and gives her a more western appearance. Not only does Rio Matsumoto look beautiful, she is also an avid fan of cooking and drawing.
11. Maki Nishiyama
Among the rare models who has an exclusive deal with a magazine, in 2005 Maki Nishiyama was signed to a contract with CanCam, a monthly magazine targeted towards college-aged women. Maki Nishiyama was also widely seen on television on commercials, including working as a spokesperson for McDonald’s in Japan (I’m loving it). She has also appeared on television and in a handful of movies. In 2013, she married an actor named Taichi Saotome who is six years younger than she is. While just thirty years old, apparently Maki Nishiyama is already a cougar! Interesting, her husband is most famous for playing young men and Onnagata women (a traditional acting form where men take on women’s roles on stage). Knowing this hottie goes for younger men only makes us like her more, there is something about an in charge older woman who really gets us going.
10. Kurara Chibana
In 2006 Kurara Chibana finished as first runner-up in the Miss Universe competition. She also won best national costume for her samurai-inspired outfit, which we have to admit is incredibly dazzling! While she was the favourite to win, she ended up losing out only so slightly to Zuleyka Rivera of Puerto Rico. After 2006, Kurara Chibana’s career really took off. Incredibly smart, she speaks four languages which has helped her in her new career as a feature reporter for a reputable fashion magazine. She now spends her time flying around the world interviewing different people in different languages; not a bad life! She also has a passion for arts and culture, earning a philosophy degree from Sophia University. Incredibly talented and beautiful, Kurara Chibana is a very recognizable figure in Japan. Honestly, if we were forced to imagine the perfect Japanese hottie, Kurara Chibana pretty much nails it.
9. Keiko Kitagawa
She is one of the most recognizable models on the list because Keiko appeared in the Fast and the Furious franchise back in 2006 for the second instalment Tokyo Drift. While Tokyo Drift is far from our favourite entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise, we actually really liked her appearance and wouldn’t have minded if she ended up returning at some point (as unlikely as that seems). She worked from 2003-2006 for Seventeen Magazine as an exclusive model. After that contract was up, she officially retired from modeling. Completely prolific, she has worked extensively in television and movies and even published a number of books about makeup and her life. In 2016 she married Daigo, a Japanese popstar and singer. Keiko Kitagawa has a really adorable look and is definitely more cute than sexy. We love her fresh look, and wouldn’t mind hanging out with her.
8. Sayo Aizawa
The positively stunning Sayo Aizawa started her career as a model straight out of high school. She works as both a television star and as a model. Currently, she has an exclusive contract with the magazine called Classy, in Japan. The magazine which is mostly targeted towards women entering the workforce, in particular in offices, showcases a variety of Japanese models, though it initially started by featuring famous American celebrities. While one of the older women on this list at 38, Sayo Aizawa has lost none of her good looks and still stands out as one of the most beautiful women we’ve ever set our eyes on. Ridiculously elegant, we can easily imagine Sayo Aizawa as the ultimate hot mom or a stunning CEO. There is something undeniably relatable, but nonetheless authoritative about her beauty.
7. Yumi Kobayashi
While Yumi Kobayashi has a beautiful face, she is far more famous for her incredible figure. This smoking hot model has made her career from her one in a million body, and she often does bikini and underwear modeling. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yumi Kobayashi may be approaching thirty but she has lost none of her beauty. She also works as an actor and has been featured on a number of popular television shows in her native Japan. In so many ways, Yumi Kobayashi completely embodies our ultimate dream girl being the perfect combination of cute and sexy. Maybe it’s because we don’t normally think of Japanese women as being especially curvaceous, but Yumi Kobayashi absolutely has a body that could inspire a thousand dreams.
6. Aya Ueto
There are very few women on this list who are as much of a full package as Aya Ueto. While many of the other models also work on television, and some have even recorded an album, Aya Ueto does all that and more. On top of her artistic work, she is a fairly prominent radio personality and all around celebrity in Japan, appearing on the television circuit in the same way your favourite British comedians seem to pop up on just about every panel show. She has been a star in Japan since she was thirteen and began her acting career. Since then she has only become more famous, and we can see why! Not only is Aya Ueto absolutely beautiful, she clearly has a very bubbly and relatable personality. She also seems to have a very good soul and does a lot of work for many charities in Japan. While she recently turned thirty, Aya Ueto looks remarkably young for her age.
5. Nozomi Sasaki
For most of her modeling career, this beautiful model pulled a Madonna and was only known as “Nozomi.” One of the most bada*s women on this list, after her modeling career she not only became a minor Japanese celebrity, she did it as a spokesperson for a mixed martial arts competition. Interestingly enough, after a number of successful years of modeling for women’s magazines, she intentionally gained weight in order to transition to modeling for men’s magazines – and we gotta say, the extra weight really suited her. Strangely enough, Nozomi Sasaki does not like to talk about her modeling career at all, and now as she is a minor celebrity in Japan, has outright banned certain reporters and publications since they’ve asked her questions about that time in her life. One thing we do know is, for whatever reason, a woman with a secret somehow seems even sexier than one without.
4. Yukie Nakama
Incredibly talented, Yukie Nakama has not only worked as a glamour model but on television and in music. One of the most beautiful women we’ve ever seen (this seems to be a repeated mantra on this list, but seriously it’s insane how hot Japanese models are), Yukie Nakama has a kind of timeless beauty that you rarely see. We’re not sure why she’s so sexy, but it could have something to do with the fact she is a Scorpio. Whether or not you believe in horoscopes, one sure-fire truth is that of all the star signs, Scorpios are normally the sexiest of all. She also seems to have a lot of sass, something that likely springs from the fact that she was the youngest of five siblings. We love a woman who seems absolutely in control of her life.
3. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
A name so good it had to be said twice, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a different kind of model from most on the list. Known for her cartoony and flamboyant style, her brand emerges from the popular Harajuku district of Japan, where young people threaten the conservative style of Japan with bright colours and unconventional styles. One of the most internationally famous models on this list, her bizarre and catchy music videos have gained her notoriety outside of her native Japan, as a number of her videos have gone viral on Reddit and other major websites. As modern as you get, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s career was launched because of her popular fashion blog which brought her to the attention of people working in the industry. Her beauty and unique sense of fashion propelled her into fame.
2. Ai Shinozaki
If dreams were people, Ai Shinozaki is the kind of dream we would never ever want to wake up from. The total package, Ai Shinozaki has a killer body and an adorable face. She is a glamour model for men’s magazines, and is also a part of a famous pop band. Like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Ai Shinozaki got her start because of the Internet, as at the tender age of fourteen, her online posts started to catch attention because of her curvaceous figure. While that might seem a little creepy, she’s now well into her twenties so you can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Ai Shinozaki is so famous and so loved, a crowdfunding campaign was actually launched to create an artificial intelligence application based on her for people’s phones and other devices. Sure that’s weird, but whatever makes people happy, right? Let’s be real, if this app ever comes to be we’ll be among the first people to um, test it, for science.
1. Meisa Kuroki
It’s not lightly that we decided to go with Meisa Kuroki as the most beautiful Japanese model. She seems larger than life and is truly a timeless beauty. Like most of the women on this list, she has a really diversified portfolio and is hardly just a model. On top of her work for magazines, she has a musical career and regularly acts for movies and television. With one of the most unusual looks in the Japanese modeling world, Meisa Kuroki really stands out as an iconoclast. Unlike American models who are often appreciated for their diversity or strangeness, there is a bit more of a uniform look to Japanese models. Perhaps the reason that Meisa Kuroki stands out among her peers is that she is not fully Japanese. While 3/4 of her grandparents are from Japan, she is 1/4 Brazilian. And let’s be real, Japanese models are really hot, but so are models from Brazil. Clearly this was a perfect combination.