Ayaka Sato

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Hello Ayaka it’s so great to talk to you!

ayaka-11. Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from?

I’m from a little town in Aichi. I grew up going to the beach all the time. I’ve never spent time in the big city. I love nature. I’m not a city girl at all. I work as a sales assistant for a company here.

2.  I noticed that you studied abroad for some of your education?

I studied at Iowa State university for almost ten months. I went to improve my english skills but also to have a new experience in a foreign country. I met so many people there and conquered so many obstacles there that it really made me who I am today. I am really grateful for the opportunity I received there.

3.  Can you tell us about some of the challenges you encountered while living there?

When I started at Iowa State we were involved in group activities where we needed to take turns speaking to other people in the group. Because of my limited English skills I couldn’t understand what the other girls were saying to me. Because of this the girl got upset and began to say really bad things about me to the other people in the class. When I got home I cried really hard and was feeling sad. But the experience actually made me a stronger person and I decided to work harder on learning English. Now here I am today speaking and understanding English.

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4.  How did you develop an interest in beauty and fashion and when did you begin to be involved with the pageants?

I started last November. My boyfriend told me, ”why don’t you try out for Miss Universe Japan.” It was really impressive to watch the competition on TV and I was impressed by both the intellectual quality as well as the beauty presented by the girls involved. I wanted to put myself out there and hopefully provide inspiration for other girls. I used to be a little bit chubby and through the competition I could show how a girl can improve their figure. I am not always that confident about my body so the competition was a good way to express myself.

I was unable to make it to the finals. I was a little bit disappointed in myself and I could have ended my journey there but around this past March I tried to pursue Miss Supranational Japan. I met so many great people there and they gave me a lot of good influences. I had such a great time there. It was here that I was introduced to Miss Grand Japan. I am 27 now and I figured it would be the last time I would be able to compete in one of these competitions. I decided to stick to my guns and go for the Miss Grand Japan.

4.  What was the most difficult part of the training for Miss Grand Japan?

It was a challenge to just be myself. Once you start the competition it is easy to be changed by the event. So I tried my best to just always be Ayaka Sato and try my best to not let the circumstances change who I am. But I was always surrounded by such wonderful people. The hardest part was to just try to be myself and be satisfied with who I am.

ayaka-85.  I know they also have similar pageants in Korea but the contestants have a reputation for having plastic surgery to change their looks leading to a uniform appearance from the models. Are you familiar with this culture or have any opinion about it?

I don’t want to say yes or no to the question. I think everyone is an individual and makes their own decisions. No matter what face a person has, it is what is inside that is important. But I do not support or condone plastic surgery.

6.  What do you think were some of your qualities that led to you winning the competition?

I just try to approach every circumstance with a positive attitude and try to bring joy and pleasure to everything I do. That is all I care about in life. So that is the idea I have about life, that attitude is what made me stand out during the competition.

7.  How did you feel when you won?

I couldn’t think of anything! My whole brain just stopped working and I couldn’t think of anything. I really was surprised!

8.  Did you need to prepare a speech, or did you train for the win?

We trained a lot for the speech. I had people around me to help me prepare my speech.

9.  Everyone looked very supportive of your win. Do you feel like the other contestants were supportive of your win?

Yes, very much so.

10.  It seems like your win has provided you with a lot of opportunities to pursue if you wanted to. Both in the Japanese entertainment industry as well as in the US if you wanted to go in that direction. What path might you pursue if you decided to go in that direction?

I don’t really think about the entertainment industry because I am just an ordinary girl who had the chance to be a part of Miss Grand Japan. I just want to stay humble and be grateful for any opportunities that may come my way. In the future I just really want to have my animal shelter and help save as many lives as I can in that way. I just really want to help the community and support it in that way. In the coming year I just want to volunteer and help out as much as I can.

11.  Can you tell us a little about your private life?  What do you do in your private time, what are your interests that are away from the world of beauty contests?

kittyMy favorite thing to do is to travel. I have visited many countries but there are many more which I would like to visit. I also love cosmetics and I hope someday to have some girls who are really good at it and know how to promote themselves. I’m also learning psychology. I go to school after work to study psychology. It is very interesting and useful when trying to communicate. I also love playing with my kitties. I have three kitties. They were stray cats. Before I had the first kitty we never thought of having kitties in the house. But after we rescued the first kitty it completely changed my perspective and now we love to have kitties and try to help out as many as we can.

12.  What are the names of your cats?

The first one’s name is “Pocchi” this means “alone” in Japanese. The second one is “Mita” and the third is “Gigi”.

13.  Now you are headed to Las Vegas to take part in the international competition. How do you feel about having the opportunity to take part in this international event?

I am getting to meet many new people and I love meeting new people.

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Credit: Y’s Life Style Innovation

14.  Have you been to Las Vegas before?

Actually, I just went there this past March. I went there for a holiday.

15.  Have you taken a look at the Ninjagirl website?

I really like the name “Ninjagirl” I think it is really catchy.  I even shared the website with some people. I said, “Hey! I’m being interviewed by the Ninjagirl website!”

16.  Do you have anything you’d like to say to the readers at Ninjagirl?

I think it is great to know about Japanese people but also about international people. I think it is just a great combination of so many interesting people from so many cultures. It is very important to build relationships and understand about people from many different cultures so I think it is important to introduce people from many different cultures and make them understood. The people themselves and also their cultural background.

17.  Growing up in Japan it is your home culture but you have also had the opportunity to live abroad and get a taste of other cultures and the foreign perspective. Did you have any advice for helping people gain an interest in Japanese culture?

Where I was born and raised, in Aichi we have a very famous samurai. I think that is the biggest attraction for me to make Japan appealing to the rest of the world. It is possible for people to try on the samurai costumes and experience the samurai culture for themselves.  The samurai’s name was Hideyoshi Toyotomi. He is regarded as Japan’s “second great unifier”.

18.  Having recently finished participating in the Miss Grand International pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada, I’d imagine you must be eager to have some time to yourself! 

Yes, I really am. Since the day I was crowned as Miss Grand Japan, I have been very busy with preparations, rehearsals, competitions etc. So now, finally!

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19.  Was your experience as fulfilling as your Miss Grand Japan experience? 

I must say it was even more fulfilling than Miss Grand Japan. Definitely one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from so many gorgeous and intelligent women from all over the world. What else could possibly make it more fulfilling?

20.  Unfortunately the crown was placed on a different girls head, but can you tell us how you did in the national competition? 

Firstly, I would like to say that I am not disappointed in my result at all. I am satisfied with what I have done on the stage, and did everything I could to make my country proud. While there may be certain things I could have improved on, I am not the type of person who dwells on the past, and so I would like to say I believe I did well in the competition.

21.  Who were some of the other contestants?  Did you have the chance to meet some of them while in Las Vegas?  

I have made so many great friends, starting with Miss Brazil (Renata Sena), Hong Kong (Rebecca Lau), Uruguay (Meli Carballo), Portugal (Ana Bomfim), and Taiwan (Grace Pacifica Chen). We built such a strong bond during the 3 weeks, and that’s something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Friendship means much more than the crown, I believe.

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22.  Do any of them stand out in your mind?  Someone with the best costume, or maybe the best speech?  

Miss Grand International has many fans from all around the world, and chose through their votes, Miss Indonesia (Ariska) for Best National Costume. I must say, I totally agree with them. Her costume was great, and more importantly her stage presence in it was amazing. So, congratulations to Ariska for winning Best National Costume and Miss Grand International! Best speech… that is very hard to choose. The speech is not only about sharing your ideas, but also your life experiences. So I am not comfortable choosing just one, as I feel like I would be judging everyone’s personal stories. So instead, I would like to say all the speeches presented were powerful and touching in their own way. Including mine! Haha.

23.  What did you get to do while you were there?  I heard you got to visit to the Grand Canyon!

We visited the Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, and High Roller Vegas. The most exciting moment for me was when we were at the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. I had already been to Vegas twice before, but never made it to that place! I took a lot of great pictures with my girls there. It was very fun.

24.  How about the charity event.  What was that about? 

At the charity event we got the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the local people in Las Vegas. In addition, there were a few celebrities who have gone through a lot in the entertainment industry. It was such a nice experience to exchange personal stories and be inspired by some powerful individuals.

25.  Did you have the opportunity to meet the winner, Ariska Putri Pertiwi? 

During the competition, we had a few talks. Unfortunately, I did not get to see her after the competition. I just want to congratulate her for her achievements, and wish her the best of luck with all the challenges and adventures she will encounter!

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26.  Do you think every girl deserves to get the crown?  Some girls seem as though they don’t even care about it.  If they don’t care about the crown, do you think they still deserve to win?  So many of the girls care so much and want to help to change the world!

You have to know it takes courage to put yourself in the situation like this. Representing your country at an international competition is NOT easy. You constantly feel pressured and stressed, but still need to maintain control of your emotions, and smile. I feel like that is what it takes to be a beauty queen. You must always stay strong and push yourself to try harder, no matter how you are feeling. That is exactly what all the contestants have done during the competition. So, whether they cared about the crown much or not, every girl in the competition deserves their own crown. In my opinion, caring less about the crown does not necessarily mean they also do not care to change the world. With or without the title, we all wish to change the world in our own way.

27.  I think it is amazing the way all of the girls have been able to transform themselves – including you!  What do you think about this?  They all have remade themselves into the queen that they want to be and help change the world in their own little way.  Can you tell us a little bit about how the experience has transformed your life? 

Regardless of how insane this experience was, I still think all the girls continued to embrace their uniqueness. While it certainly influenced their lives, I don’t believe it necessarily “transformed” them, in the sense that they are different people now than when they began. Even when surrounded by extraordinary circumstances, you must stand as the individual you know yourself to be, with your own strength.

Those professional hair and make up artists were very talented and did such a splendid job to transform my face and hair. It was a great experience. Gosh, that hair style for the interview day. I loved it so much!!!!!

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Credit: Y’s Life Style Innovation

28.  You have had so many experiences and met so many interesting people.  What do you think about this experience?  What will you move on to after such an exciting time in your life – just taking care of your kitties? 

This experience helped me to grow as a human. I was glad to be a part of the contest.

I am not entirely sure what I will do next…  I would love to travel to as many countries as I can and visit all the friends from Miss Grand International. Wish I could take my kitties with me. Seriously. Although I don’t think they will be my best travel buddies. Haha

29.  What did your family think about your participation?  Were they able to attend the events?  Were they supportive?  

They were incredibly happy about my participation. In fact, they have told me many times that they are so proud of me. As well, they came all the way from Japan to see my performance in Las Vegas. Having them around made an even bigger difference than I had anticipated. I was stressed out and felt pressured during the whole competition, but upon seeing their faces, all the negative emotions were gone.

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I came to realize that my family was the only ones who had been supportive from the very beginning. To be honest, I encountered some people who did not want to help me due to their jealousy or anger, and I perfectly understand their feelings. Regardless, this experience taught me that at the end of the day, the only people who truly accept who you are and appreciate you, are your family.

I am truly thankful to have the best family in this universe, and I love them with all my heart. As well, I want to show my appreciation to my boyfriend and his family. They have been rooting for me since my first pageant. They were even screaming “Miss Japan!!!” from the audience so loud. Haha. It must have been funny that American people were rooting for Miss Japan. But look, this is the bond of family across countries. You have no idea how much I love them. I am such a lucky individual to have the best people in my life.  Thank you very much and I love you all!

30.  Do you have anyone else in your family who has an interest in being a queen, someone who wants to change the world? 

I doubt I do. However, I’ve been persuading my sister to the challenge of a beauty pageant. I’m not sure if she will though. But trust me, she is the prettiest girl I know!

31.  What’s next for you?

I have been interested in saving animals. Currently I am planning to stay in the States for a few months next year, and would like to work as a volunteer at an animal shelter. I have yet to figure out what I am going to do afterwards though. My clear purpose to join Miss Grand Japan was to be a messenger for those who are in need. Therefore, I would like to attend as many community services as possible. I do not mind if it takes place in Japan or overseas. I would have to see what is happening in this world with my own eyes and hear the voices from those who need my support, delivering their messages to the world utilizing my title.

Thank you so much for speaking with us here at Ninjagirl!

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edited by Anthony Heller

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