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Feature CREATIVE ROOTS C OOL JAPAN KAWAII & 1 Japan through the eyes of Miss International contestants RIEKO SUZUKI T HE 53 rd Miss International Pageant was held in December 2013, marking the first time in six years that the event came to Tokyo. Dubbed ‘Miss International 2013 x Cool Japan,’ the pageant focused on the girls’ perspectives on the city. Contestants visited Daikanyama, Ginza, Odaiba and other famous spots around Tokyo, then used Facebook and other media to share with the world what they found to be cool, cute or delicious. 16 | highlighting japan Over the two weeks preceding the main event, they visited the Imperial Palace, took part in demonstrations of traditional arts like flower arrangement and tea ceremony, and availed themselves of opportunities to learn about Japan. They also visited the new Tsutaya T-Site in Daikanyama (a trendy bookstore complex), Shibuya 109 (a shopping center popular among young girls) and Harajuku (an offbeat fashion center), visiting the front lines of Japanese pop culture, where kawaii (cute) is born and broadcast to the world. So just what did the girls see in Japan that was ‘cool and kawaii’? For most participants, this was their first time visiting Japan. They were nearly unanimous in saying things like, ‘This was my first time in Japan. Before coming, my image of Japan was one of technological gadgets and clean, tidy cities, along with courteous behavior.’ Despite the limits of information available