The Sparkling Winner of MissJapan Miss Sports 2020
Miss Erika Tanaka, who attends a university in Tokyo, has been picked as “Miss Japan Miss Sports” for 2020. The Miss Japan Contest began in 1950, and has taken place every year since, on the theme of “Aspiring to the true beauty of Japanese women”. The contest added the new category of Miss Japan Miss Sports in 2019. The role of Miss Sports is “To encourage physical and mental training and spread the joy of taking on challenges and building sportsloving spirit and the will to win”. Yuko Wada, Miss Japan Contest Committee Chairwoman, says “We want to lead society in a better direction by producing people of true beauty, who possess beauty in the three areas of appearance, character, and action”. We talked to the real Erika Tanaka, who loves to eat as well as loving sports, and is a fountain of energy.
You won the title of Miss Sports in the Miss Japan Contest in January. Why do you think you won?
I gather they liked me for being active and dynamic. I also heard that I scored high marks for communication ability, both on stage on the day of the contest, and at party the night before. I’ve been active in sports for a long time, and apparently I did well in conveying what I want to do and to become, in clear words and with passion.
What do you most want to do as Miss Sports 2020?
There are two things: The first is to help to raise awareness of minor sports. I have been playing soccer for 17 years, but I have now switched to dragon boating. They are both minor sports. I am keenly aware that, compared to major sports, there are big gaps in aspects such as environment, audience size, and income. As Miss Sports, I want to narrow the gaps even a little by making suggestions to the Football Association and helping to build Women's association football as a brand. Second, I want to do all I can to spread sports among the young. The Olympics will take place in Japan next year, so I want to publicize the appeal of sports.
You’ve played soccer for 17 years, and won at the International Dragon Boat Race Championship.
I played soccer for 17 years, starting at five years old. I joined the dragon boat team when I was a student at Università Ca' Foscari Venezia in Italy. The Università Ca' Foscari Venezia team that I belonged to won the Italian National Championship in the 2,000m division. Using the strength and endurance I built up in soccer, I was able to help our team win. When I was in my third year of high school, I was picked for the U-17 team of Kobe City, and played matches with that team.
The Miss Japan Association is working on the SDGs, but what do the SDGs mean for you?
The SDGs are surprisingly close to me. My thinking changed a lot while I was studying in Italy. When I saw how people there refrained from using plastic products, and everyone carried their own shopping bags and drink bottles, I wanted to take action too. Incidentally, do you know the words “acqua alta”? In Italian, that means rising water level, and it’s a natural phenomenon that happens once in three months in Italy. While I was a student there, the biggest acqua alta in 50 years completely changed the look of the city, with water buses colliding and roads blocked with seaweed. The cause is climate change, and I hear reports that Venice, a world heritage site, could disappear by 2050. That prompted me to think about what I should do for a sustainable society. I now carry my own drink bottle every day. I believe even little actions can exert great strength when they accumulate.