American-Japanese model Kiko divides people in Japan with controversial photo shoot


Seductive poses criticised for being disrespectful to Japanese culture. 

If you haven’t yet heard of Kiko Mizuhara, you soon will. The 28 year-old American-Japanese model, actress, singer, and designer was once rumoured to be dating English singer-songwriter Harry Styles, and earlier this year she met up with the cast of Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye during their Japan trip.

Kiko will be appearing in Queer Eye’s special Japan episodes, set to be released on Netflix on 1 November.

With 5.3 million followers on Instagram alone, Kiko already has a huge following of fans from around the globe, but her upcoming appearance on Queer Eye promises to take her fame to a whole other level.

People are enamoured by more than just her good looks, as Kiko has a fun and free-spirited personality that leads her to take risks and push the boundaries of traditional Japanese society.

This recently landed her in a controversial position online, though, after images from her photo shoot for the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of Germany’s Indie Magazine appeared on her Instagram account.

Shot in a traditional Japanese room, the photos show Kiko spread out on the tatami floor in a number of gorgeous outfits.

The room contains some intricately painted sliding door panels, giving it the air of a formal sitting room in an expensive home.

What really caught everyone’s eye, though, was this picture, showing Kiko sitting on a low Japanese table, legs spread apart in what commenters called an “M Shape” pose.

It’s a seductive pose, but not anything like the raunchy, near-naked photos we’ve seen on the pages of other fashion magazines. However, the reason for the controversy was the fact that Kiko was sitting on the table, which elicited gasps from a number of people.

There are many rules when it comes to traditional rooms, which means people are expected to take off their shoes or slippers before entering, avoid stepping on the wooden part of the doorway, take care to step over and not on the seams between mats, and sit at the table according to seating conventions that require the guest to sit furthest from the door and in front of the tokonoma decorative alcove.

For many, it goes without saying that nobody should actually sit on top of the low table, least of all in their underwear with their legs spread-eagled. And this is what a large number of Japanese commenters took issue with online, admonishing her for her lack of etiquette and criticising her for disrespecting traditional Japanese culture.

While many of the comments were aimed at Kiko herself, others blamed the photographer for not realising the kerfuffle it would cause in Japan. While neither Indie Magazine nor Kiko have commented publicly on the response to the photos, the controversy no doubt raised everyone’s awareness of the youth subculture magazine, both in Japan and further abroad as well.

Plus, the photo of Kiko in the “M Pose” on the table was the one from the shoot that got the most likes on the model’s Instagram account, with a number of fans praising her for her work and international appeal.

No matter what side of the table you sit on in regards to the photo shoot, controversial images like these are often a clever marketing tactic that ends up increasing brand awareness and sales. After all, we’ve seen it before with Vogue’s geisha photo shoot and Kim Kardashian trademarking her brand Kimono.

Source: Net Lab
Featured image: Instagram/i_am_kiko
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