Monday, January 22, 2007

Mademoiselle L'Ambassadrice

Have you seen the Kantei Home Page recently?

If it were any more subdued, tasteful, and, let's be frank, precious, it would have a little Mori Hanae butterfly in the corner.

Top story on the Kantei page: the Prime Minister encourages the Council of Related Ministers for the Realization of Japan as a Country Built on Tourism (Ugghhh! Here is the 日本語 original. Is it my Koizumi nostalgia, or are the government's translations really more stilted than they were only just a few months ago?) to promote--wait for it--"Beautiful Japan"--and just to make sure we all get a little queasy about the overassociation of Japan as a nation with demure, chaste feminine beauty, the PM chats up Japan's Goodwill Ambassador for the Visit Japan Campaign.

"Aw shucks Miss Kimura. You sure are purty!"

This may seem a silly question, but is being the "Goodwill Ambassador for the Visit Japan Campaign" such a crappy gig that Kimura Yoshino cannot find anyone else to dump it on? Or conversely, is it such a plum position that Kimura won't give it up? These kinds of honorary posts are usually annual or biennial ordeals. Kimura's been Japan's "Ambassador" since the program's inception in July 2004.

Granted, Kimura-san has clear skin and thick (very) black hair, looks stunning in kimono and possesses, I must assume, decent English language skills (she was born in London and attended middle school in the United States) I guess she's "perfect" for the part.

But is the sakura, temple and vermillion-kimono-clad okamisan (Miss Kimura is 30 years old) image really what modern Japan should be pushing, hard?

Because if that's the "Beautiful Japan" you are selling, you are going to disappoint a whole lot folks who actually make the trip.

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