An interview with the winner of Miss Mandarin Japan Contest

Emi’s determination to change subconscious negative perception towards China

Emi Yoshikawa, third-year student at School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)

On April 22, Emi Yoshikawa stood on the final stage of the Miss Mandarin Japan Contest 2018 organized by the Japanese & Mandarin Union (JMU), where she gave a speech in Mandarin to compete with eight other finalists. It turned out that she not only shined at the contest but also took home the winning title. Consequently, she will act as the friendship ambassador between Japan and China to foster good relationship.

It was entirely by chance that Emi found out about the Miss Mandarin Japan Contest on the online version of People’s Daily, the major and biggest newspaper group in China. As this was the first time the contest was held, she thought that she should give it a try to mark something new for herself and gain new perspectives. She has definitely attained them and reminded herself how trying new things and leaving one’s comfort zone can open doors to new opportunities.

Emi and her encounter with Chinese language

Emi is a third-year Waseda student at the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS), where almost all classes are conducted entirely in English. Since September 2017, she has been in China to do her one-year double-degree program at Peking University. In order to take part in the Miss Mandarin Japan Contest 2018 that was held in Japan, she had had to fly back and forth between China and Japan.

While she grew up in Japan and is Japanese by ethnicity, Emi was actually born in China which made her want to learn Chinese someday. Already proficient in both Japanese and English, Emi was thinking of picking up a third language at SILS. As she somehow feels connected to China because it was her birth country, Chinese naturally became her choice. By learning Chinese, the trilingual said “it not allows her to better understand what is happening in China but also gives her access to even more information than before.” Additionally, she feels that it gives her an edge over her peers too.

School Life at Peking University

Emi at Peking University

Emi started her one-year double-degree program at Peking University in September 2017. At Peking University, Emi majors in political science and attends classes with the local Chinese students. At first, mastering the Mandarin’s four tones and pinyin (i.e. the romanization of the Chinese characters based on pronunciation) were the major obstacles she faced in learning Chinese. Now, reading and trying to digest vast amount of texts written in Chinese became the challenge. In addition, she also has to write essays, give presentations and engage in group discussions all in Chinese. Accordingly to Emi, students at Peking University are not only diligent but also smart. No matter how hard she tries, Emi feels that she seems to never be able to keep up with them and their knowledge. On the positive side, being in that situation has not only taught her how to appreciate deep knowledge but also how to look at things from different perspectives.

Bringing out the beauty of Beijing

Emi feels that when people think of Beijing, the first things that come to their mind are usually pollution, the Tiananmen incident or even Peking duck. However, she feels that the capital of China is more than just that. Emi has a love for photography and would take many pictures of Beijing. She would then share them on social media as well as her personal blog to bring out the best of it because she feels that real-time information about Beijing is not readily available, particularly in Japan. At present, Emi writes and updates her blog once a week. While Japanese used to be the main readers of her blog, she has seen an increasing number of Chinese readers since she started writing about Beijing.

Before entering the Miss Mandarin Japan Contest, Emi only had her blog and social media accounts to communicate with the public. However, things have changed after she won the contest and became the Miss Mandarin. She can reach out to even wider audience in a more effective way with the help of Chinese media such as the People’s Daily and Record China.

Future goals

Emi says she does not want to be “the bridge of Japan and China.” She feels that the phrase is overused and cliché, and merely being the bridge help opens doors to new opportunities but does not leads to solutions of problems. She wants to be more than just a bridge.

Emi feels that in Japan, the media focuses a lot on the inferior-to-superior relationship between the two nations. She thinks that China has its own position and it need not necessarily have to always align itself to Japan. Increasing the existing tension and trying to bring one another down do not bring anything good. As such, she hopes to reach out to Japanese people who are uninterested in or have a negative impression about China by bringing to them the sunny side of China, with the hope of reducing existing tension and changing their perspectives about the country.

Emi receiving her winning certificate at the Japanese & Mandarin Union prize ceremony (photo by General Incorporated Association)

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