By JORDAN IKEDA
Rafu Staff Writer
It’s that time again, to don that hand-crafted national costume, step into those getas, and work on that pretty smile and elegant hand wave, as the 2010 Miss Asia USA will be bringing forth 24 beautiful delegates from around the globe to compete in what is touted as one of the premiere cultural pageants in the United States.
While 18 different countries will be represented Aug. 21 at the La Mirada Performing Arts Theatre, in its 22-year-history, no Japanese finalist has ever taken home the crown. This year, Ayaka Umata, who hails from Nagasaki, will be representing Japan and wearing a $100,000 kimono provided by Yamanoryu Kisou and Suehiro.
Living in Los Angeles, studying broadcast journalism and pre-law at Santa Monica College, and like any self-respecting Japanese having already uncovered several delectable sushi spots around the city, Miss Umata, besides being exceedingly lovely, can speak four languages, and hopes to become either a T.V. host or a lawyer.
But first, the 22-year-old has her sights set on breaking a 22-year-long drought for Japan.
“This pageant is very new to me and American life is also new to me,” Umata told the Rafu Shimpo. “But, a lot of people, a lot of the Japanese community here has come out to support me. So far, so good.”
Despite having a rapidly improving grasp of English, because she has only lived here for one year Umata is a bit nervous over the question and answer portion of the pageant.
“I don’t know if I’m going to understand the question,” she said. “I’m wondering how I’m going to answer it.”
To combat this nervousness, she is studying English every day, speaking it every day, and conducting a lot of interviews, all of which have her building up confidence. And while she’s been working hard at the various Miss Asia USA workshops including public speaking, poise, and modeling, she’s also been having a lot of fun interacting with the other delegates who have brought a colorful array of flavors with them from all over Asia.
“It’s been really fun to share our culture with a lot of other girls,” she said. “I’ve never experienced this kind of different cultural stuff before. It’s a very good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot.”
She’s excited, continuing to learn and grow, and hopes to be the first Japanese crowned Miss Asia USA. She only asks one thing and does so with the perfect blend of T.V. host charm, and lawyer savvy. Her proposal?
“If you have time, please come to see my pageant.”
The 2010 Miss Asia USA Culture and Beauty pageant will be held on Saturday, Aug. 21 at the La Mirada Performing Arts Theatre, 14900 La Mirada Blvd. For tickets call (818) 891-5556 or visit www.MissAsiaUSA.org.