The Ambassadress of Cute
Kimura U and the Importance of Everything Kawaii
Not many countries can boast of having a kawaii (cute) fashion representative, especially when that rep is as unique as Kimura U. Her official government title is the Japanese Harajuku Fashion Representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Put simply, U is an official symbol of cute for Japan and she’s Tokyo Journal’s JapanCon Ambassadress. However, there’s more to U than her sparkly pastel exterior. She’s smart and ambitious — and it took hard work for her to achieve icon status. As her website boasts: “Kimura U does not stop.” Tokyo Journal ’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie is pleased to introduce you to his newest colleague, Kimura U.
TJ: What does being a symbol of kawaii involve?
KIMURA: I want to transmit Japan’s kawaii and otaku cultures across the world and have people show more interest in Japan. I want more people to come to Japan, because our population is declining.
TJ: Where have you traveled abroad?
KIMURA: I have been to France, Rome, China, Taiwan, the U.S., Myanmar and Spain.
TJ: Which place had the strongest impact on you?
KIMURA: For me, it was the U.S. and China.
TJ: Where else do you want to go to represent Japan?
KIMURA: Many places, like Dubai. Many of the creators of Japanese culture are going to Dubai these days.
TJ: How did the Japanese Ministry first take notice of you and your style?
KIMURA: I was attending a music academy, the Muse Academy of Music in Yoyogi. Coincidentally, NHK — Japan’s famous TV broadcast station — came to our school looking for women who make clothing to appear on their show, so I decided to do it. NHK is a national broadcasting television station. So many people throughout the country were watching the show. As a result, they chose me as the best fit for the job.
TJ: Where did you get the idea to start making your own clothing?
KIMURA: Originally, I started off as a singer in a rock band and was touring around Japan performing at small venues. However, it was difficult to make a living off of that. I didn’t even have money to eat. So I started selling my handmade stuff right next to my CDs. By chance, the Foreign Ministry noticed my work and really liked it. I was then chosen as the Ambassadress of Kawaii of Harajuku Fashion by the Ministry and went to Paris. At the time, Japan Expo was being held in Paris, and I was surprised by how popular anime and Japanese fashion was. Then I got the idea of creating a brand where anime and fashion are linked.
TJ: When did you start your clothing brand?
KIMURA: I started my brand, KOKOkim, six years ago.
TJ: How would you describe the style of your clothing line?
KIMURA: Clothing that would appear in an anime but not necessarily cosplay — something you can wear on a daily basis.
TJ: What are your current projects?
KIMURA: Right now I am working as the motion actor for an anime called the Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, and on projects for KOKOkim. I can’t give you much detail, but I will be working more with anime, so please follow me on Facebook.
TJ: Is there a manga or anime that you’re a fan of?
KIMURA: I love Durarara!!
TJ: Anything big planned for the future?
KIMURA: I only have one clothing brand right now, but my goal is to make an anime. I would have my clothing appear in it and allow people to buy it. My dream is to link my brand with my anime, which is called Hyperlink in Japan, and to transmit what I create across the world. If I am able to ful ll my dream, I want to become the voice actor for the protagonist, so I am currently doing voice-acting jobs. tj
The complete article can be found in Issue #278 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.