Japan’s “Fairy on the Beach”
Miwa Asao is the name of one of Japan’s up and coming sports and sex sensations. She plays beach volleyball, is somewhat tall for a Japanese woman, and enjoys a part-time career as a model. Miwa hopes to make the Japanese Olympic team for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Perhaps one explanation for Miwa’s popularity with the media is the skimpy size of the bikini uniform worn in beach volleyball, which appears especially small when stretched along Miwa’s tall and large frame. Voyeurs and photographers, and the voyeuristic photographers in the media, enjoy focusing their lenses on Miwa’s slim bottom and genital areas whenever the opportunity arises.
Labeled by the media as the “fairy on the beach,” Miwa rejects the description. "A fairy has an immaculate image,” she said.
It must be difficult to maintain an immaculate image when news media and internet sites focus more on her private parts than on her ability to hit the volleyball.
In photo after photo, one sees close-ups of Miwa’s bum, or her nipples, or even the outline of her pubis mons through her sweat-soaked bikini. Highly erotic, the photos still pass the muster of government censors in Japan, Korea, China and Singapore, which often prevent users from viewing or downloading images which display genitals.
Close inspection reveals that highly suggestive photos of Miwa appear on sports pages and internet websites, which would not be permitted to appear in most "family" newspapers for general audiences. In other words, Asao Miwa reveals more with her tight-fitting volleyball bikinis than the sexy idols who appear all over the Asian internet.
Miwa apparently does not object to this treatment by the press, nor apparently does her coach. Her manager hand-picked Miwa during her high school years, and the two have specific goals in mind on Miwa’s ladder to success. She is to serve both as a sex symbol and as an Olympic star
In February 2007, they launched Miwa’s first photographic album with additional bathing suit shots. By late August 2007, the shashinshu had sold more than twenty thousand copies at the price of sixteen US dollars or one thousand, nine – hundred and ninety-five yen.
Beyond the color album, there is a video available of Miwa in action on the volleyball court, as well as at leisure, swimming in a lake or relaxing at home in her underwear. The video costs 3,990 yen, nearly forty US dollars. Books or videos bearing her autograph fetch ten times these prices.
In comparison with other Japanese pinup idols, Miwa is neither well-endowed, like Megumi or Nor does she enjoy the compelling beauty of Miwa Oshiro (Oshiro Miwa). Although attractive, she is not particularly beautiful.
Her (business) manager bets on the combination of a somewhat tall and somewhat talented and somewhat attractive athlete who plays the exotic sport of women’s beach volleyball in sexy bikini uniforms, as their ticket to international success.
Indeed, women’s beach volleyball combines the competitiveness of sport with the grace and elegance of the almost-nude bodies of female athletes. In this sense, women’s beach volleyball approaches the Olympic spirit perhaps more closely than any other spectator sport. There is perhaps nothing more openly erotic than the spectacle of near-nude athletic women sweating, jumping and running about a sandy patch in fierce competition alongside the ocean.
We shall certainly continue to follow the story of Japan’s women’s beach volleyball, to see whether Miwa achieves her goal of reaching the Beijing Summer Olympics of 2008 or the London Olympics of 2012. Miwa faces an uphill challenge since she places 52nd in world competition, far behind Mika Saiki and Chiaki Kusuhara in the 29th position, and fourth in Japan.
Miwa and her teammate, Takemi Nishibori, will have to play a hard game of catch-up in order to make the Beijing Olympics next year, since each nation is allowed only two teams to compete in the women’s beach volleyball tournament. They will need to displace two other Japanese teams in order to win a spot in Beijing, where the government has imported seventeen-thousand tons of fine-grain sand to fill an Olympic-sized women’s volleyball stadium which holds up to twelve thousand spectators.
Miwa may need to put her part-time modeling career on hold if she is to win the ticket to Beijing. She reports that her body-building adds too much muscle and bulk and so conflicts with the need for a soft and gentle body needed for success as a model in Japan. We may see fewer modeling shots of her in the coming year, and more photos of her on the sandy court wearing skimpy bikinis.
That doesn’t seem to prevent the hundreds of news photographers and spectators from taking her photo, hoping to catch an image of her tight bottom and slim body. Some sixty-eight media companies covered the Tokyo Open last May, and a skirmish broke out when officials refused to allow the public to take photos of Miwa’s famous bum.