'Don't insult Japan!': Miss Universe 2021 Japan's national costume is all wrong according to netizens

·3 min read

The national costume worn by Japan’s candidate in the 70th Miss Universe pageant has sparked criticism on Japanese social media.

“Cool Japan” take: During the pageant’s National Costume Show on Dec. 10, Japanese contestant Juri Watanabe wore highly stylized attire that social media users in Japan have taken issue with, reported SoraNews24.

  • Social media critics took issue with the outfit’s not-so-subtle “cool Japan” aesthetic, which included a kimono style that seems to take inspiration from “Sailor Moon” cosplay, sleeves adorned with Japanese flags and a belt with the Imperial Family’s chrysanthemum crest.

  • To complete the getup, the 26-year-old walked the stage carrying “Maneki-Neko” (beckoning cat) figures and the kanji characters “日本” (Japan) written across her chest.



  • While the costume was reportedly designed to celebrate “the incredible Japanese Harajuku fashion culture,“ it was widely criticized as a mishmash of stereotypes associated with Japanese culture.

  • “It seems that Japanese people weren’t involved in this at all, despite it representing Japan,” one commenter wrote as quoted by SoraNews24.

  • “Don’t insult Japan!! Don’t insult the Imperial House of Japan!! Don’t insult Kimono!!” wrote another.

  • Some also found issues with the manner in which the kimono was folded over Watanabe’s chest (right over left), a practice typically reserved for a dead person.

  • Another user pointed out, “The chrysanthemum emblem is exclusive for the Emperor; Tattoos are taboo in Japan.”


Representing Japan: The controversial costume was reportedly created by Israeli designer Aviad Arik Herman to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan.

  • Watanabe, who is a U.S. permanent resident, can be seen posing with the designer in the images uploaded online by the Embassy of Israel in Japan on Dec. 2.

  • Amid the backlash, the embassy released a statement clarifying that it “was not involved in the design of this dress from the beginning.”




  • According to the embassy, they believe the dress “has been approved by the Japanese side and is warmly accepted by the organizers of Miss Universe Japan.”





Watanabe, who placed among the top 16 at the pageant, shared on Instagram that while she did not win the crown, she hopes “that [she] was able to represent, to break stereotypes, and to inspire a new generation of women.”

Featured Image via Miss Universe

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