特輯

 

Miss Akitakomachi

2014.09.24





Hiromi Suzuki, Masters student, Chuo University Graduate School of Science and Engineering
Miss Akitakomachi 2013

Hiromi Suzuki, a 23-year old student at the Chuo University Graduate School of Science and Engineering, was selected as one of the seven Miss Akitakomachis who promotes the rice brand Akitakomachi, produced in Akita Prefecture. Before her one year contract finishes at the end of August, we spoke with Hiromi regarding her activities.

Wearing a Japanese straw hat which resembles a veil, Hiromi has appeared during special events held at famous department stores and large supermarkets in Okinawa, Osaka, Nagoya, the Tokyo metropolitan area and other regions.

Appearing charming in her kimono, Hiromi introduces shoppers to Akitakomachi rice. Next to Hiromi, individually-wrapped free samples of bite-sized rice balls are handed out. Miss Akitakomachi encourages shoppers to try the rice balls.

Although Hiromi was born in Akita City and has eaten Akitakomachi rice since she was a child, she samples the rice again before standing in front of shoppers to promote sales. Reconfirming the delicious flavor of the rice enables her to advertise the rice with confidence.

Two years ago, Hiromi was handed a Miss Akitakomachi application form by her grandmother.
“Why don’t you apply,” urged her grandmother.
“I can’t because I live in Tokyo,” refused Hiromi.
“Look here,” insisted her grandmother. “One of the conditions is that the applicant lives near Tokyo.”

At that time, Hiromi wasn’t interested in applying. However, her feelings changed once she graduated from the Chuo University Faculty of Science and Engineering and entered the Master’s Program at the Chuo University Graduate School. She had only 2 years left as a university student.

“I wanted to make good use of my last few years at university,” explains Hiromi. “That’s when I remembered Akitakomachi.”

With only one week left until the application deadline, Hiromi hurriedly took a photograph and completed the other preparations.

Even while preparing to apply, Hiromi was plagued by uncertainty and felt hesitant. She told her friends about her plan to apply, hoping that they would persuade her to stop. Contrary to Hiromi’s expectations, her friends raved about the flavor of Akitakomachi rice and encouraged her to apply.

Some of her friends only associated Akita Prefecture with rice and the folklore demon Namahage. Hiromi decided to take up the challenge and bring attention to her homeland of Akita.
 

Ono no Komachi

Hiromi is all smiles when promoting Akitakomachi rice

Hiromi passed the initial screening of applications and participated in final interviews held in Akita City. She had gotten up early in the morning for the interviews and dozed off after returning home. In the early evening, the phone rang. “Congratulations! You have been selected as Miss Akitakomachi,” said the caller.

Despite eagerly awaiting the results, Hiromi was too stunned to react.
“Were you really selected?” asked her dubious family members.
When the official selection documentation arrived a few days later, everyone was overjoyed.

Application conditions were as follows:
・Single women with age of 18 and older (excluding high school students).
・Applicants must have been born in Akita Prefecture and currently residing in Akita Prefecture or the Tokyo metropolitan area.
・Applicants must be able to participate and attend events held in Akita Prefecture and other locations for one year.
・Application is not possible if the period of service overlaps with other duties as a poster girl, promotional model, etc.

Many young women in Akita Prefecture dream of becoming Miss Akitakomachi. The large number of applicants is reduced to 25 finalists through preliminarily screenings. In the end, seven Miss Akitakomachis are selected from the finalists.

The number 7 has significance from the Komachi Festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture. Since ancient times, 7 young women from Yuzawa City were carefully selected to recite Japanese poems written by Ono no Komachi, a poet famous for her unparalleled beauty. After reciting the poems, the young women offered the manuscripts to Komachi-Do-Shrine.

The one year service period for Miss Akitakomachi begins in September. Since Miss Akitakomachi is sent all over Japan, the job is simply too much for a single person. Generally speaking, each of the Miss Akitakomachis is responsible for performing her own activities. Living in Tokyo, Hiromi was overwhelmed with requests for her appearance.

Hiromi even participated in the Festival of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (November 8-9, 2013), a big event held at Meiji Park in the Sendagaya neighborhood of Tokyo. She was particularly busy from November to December, the period when newly harvested rice hits the stores.

“Fortunately, everyone knows about Akitakomachi Rice,” says Hiromi. “My PR events also drew a really large crowd.”

“I often talk about the activities on the phone with my grandmother,” says Hiromi with a smile. “She seems to enjoy listening to what I do and really looks forward to when I appear at an event in Akita Prefecture.”

Hiromi’s grandmother was the first to suggest the role and now watches over her granddaughter’s performance.

“Without a doubt, my grandmother is my biggest fan,” laughs Miss Akitakomachi.

Little Miss Radio Wave

According to the Brand Research Institute, Akitakomachi rice (from Akita Prefecture) is one of Japan’s foremost delicious food products, on the same level as Matsuzaka Beef (from Mie Prefecture). As a native of Akita Prefecture, Hiromi must feel great pride in promoting sales of her homeland’s special rice.

Ever since she was a child, Hiromi has eaten rice for breakfast.

“Akita rice goes great with side dishes such as pickled vegetables, salted salmon, mountain vegetables and fermented soy bean soup.”

Akitakomachi Rice is sure to spur one’s appetite. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the brand’s launch. Hiromi and her contemporaries are the 28th generation of Miss Akitakomachi, a role which has become an integral part of the region’s culture.

As a supplementary prize, Miss Akitakomachi is presented with 20 kilograms of Akitakomachi rice and an airplane ticket equivalent to roundtrip fare to Hawaii.

Hiromi shared Akitakomachi rice with members of her laboratory at graduate school.

“This is great!” exclaimed her friends. “I won’t be able to eat other brands anymore!”—Such praise brought a smile to Hiromi’s face.

Hiromi conducts research on electromagnetic waves for the Master’s Program in Electrical, Electronic, and Communication Engineering at the Chuo University Graduate School of Science and Engineering

“When searching for employment, I would introduce myself as ‘Little Miss Radio Wave’ in order to make an impact,” smiles Hiromi.

“I have always liked watching television,” she recalls. “When I was an elementary school student, I often watched the Morning Musume, a popular girls’ idol group. When I was in the 2nd year of high school, there was a satellite broadcast which I had really been looking forward to. Unfortunately, the program didn’t appear properly on my television! I was really perplexed—why was the television not working when all the other appliances were operating properly? I desperately wanted to watch the program and was really upset!”

Hiromi checked the problem and learned that electromagnetic interference sometimes occurs during rainy weather. At the time of her experience, radio waves were in an attenuated condition.

“I developed an intense interest in radio waves,” she recalls.

Although Hiromi had planned to become a mathematics instructor, she changed her goal. Her current research involves the visualization of how objects change when subjected to radio waves.

Recently, Hiromi realized her aspirations when she received an unofficial job offer from the media industry. Her goal is to prevent children throughout Japan from having her same experience of stomping with frustration in front of the TV. She wishes to stabilize and broadcast clear images to living rooms in all corners of the country. Today, Hiromi is acquiring technical skills to make her dream come true. Of course, she charges her energy to do research from her Akitakomachi rice.

Provided by: Hakumon Chuo, Summer 2014, No. 237

Hiromi Suzuki
Hiromi Suzuki was born in Akita Prefecture. She graduated from Kojimachi Gakuen High School. She entered the Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Communication Engineering at the Chuo University Faculty of Science and Engineering in 2009. Afterwards, she entered the Chuo University Graduate School of Science and Engineering. She currently studies in the laboratory of Professor Hiroshi Shirai. In August 2013, she was selected as Miss Akitakomachi for fiscal year 2013. Until August 31st, 2014, she traveled throughout Japan to promote Akitakomachi rice.