From L-R: Mai Honda, Emiri Konoe and Maki Shima. Photo by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT
Originally featured in the J!-ENT 2015 Annual (December 2015 issue)
Best Jeanist. The prestigious fashion award presented by the Japan Jeans Association to those who wear their jeans the best in Japan. From model and talents such as Ro-la, athletes such as New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and figure skater Miki Ando, J-pop group SPEED, PUFFY and K-pop group Girl’s Generation, singer Masaki Aiba, actor Ken Watanabe, actress Meisa Kuroki, pop artists such Kumi Koda and former AKB48 member Tomomi Itano.
And for those who have followed the “Best Jeanists” awards for many years, for men, the category was often dominated by SMAP’s Takuya Kimura and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and pop queen, Ayumi Hamasaki.
But “Best Jeanist” is not all about giving awards to top TV and movie talents, pop stars or athletes, but also showcasing awards to up-and-coming talents and performers.
In 2012, model Mai Honda was awarded the 2012 Grand Prix for “Best Jeanist – General Public New Face”.
In 2014, Emiri Konoe dreamed of becoming a singer and a model and in 2014, was award the “Best Jeanist – 2014 Artist Award”.
In 2013, half Thai/half Japanese model Maki Shima was awarded the “2013 Grand Prix Winner Best Jeanist – General Public New Face”.
And in 2014, these three “Best Jeanist” winning fashion models formed a music group known as Jeanist.
In Oct. 2015, Jeanist leader Mai Honda, Emiri Konoe and Maki Shima traveled to Los Angeles to make their music debut as a music group at Japan Expo in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
I had the opportunity to hang out with Jeanist to discuss fashion and their music.
Hi ladies. Before we begin, you are now in Los Angeles. I know you’re busy with the event but hopefully you had time to do some sightseeing around the city?
Jeanist: No! We want to!
As models, where do you love to shop?
Mai Honda: I love to shop in Tokyo!
Mai Honda: That’s more for the younger people.
Mai Honda: That’s more for the older people.
Let me guess… Omotesando?
Mai Honda: Yes! You know Omotesando?
Definitely. One of my favorite areas to shop and dine!
Mai Honda: What part?
Near Omotesando Hills and where Emporio Armani Caffe is located.
Mai Honda: Yes, that’s the area I like to hang out as well!
Emiri, where do you like to shop?
Emiri Konoe: I like to shop for clothes at Zara (in Tokyo Solamachi) and I also love to shop for green tea. I love green tea!
Where do you like to go shopping Maki?
Maki Shima: I love American bands, so I tend to go to Shibuya and shop at Forever 21.
What kind of modeling do you specialize in professionally?
Mai Honda: For me, I’m a beauty model. Skin and makeup is my main job and like to promote clean skin.
What about you Emiri?
Emiri Konoe: For now, my focus is being a singer.
What about you Maki?
Maki Shima: My main job is beauty and fashion magazine model. I came second prize in Yves Saint Laurent model search.
What’s your favorite fashion brand?
Jeanist: Ahh… That’s too hard!
I’m sure you can think up a few brands right?
Maki Shima: For me…I love all of it. If it makes up my style and I look good, I love them all.
Emiri Konoe: My favorite brand is Chloé.
Mai Honda: I love…I love them all. I can’t choose!
Now do you have a favorite style or favorite brand of jeans?
Maki Shima: I like short jeans because they make my legs look longer.
Emiri Konoe: I love denim one- piece.
Mai Honda: I like My Boyfriend jeans because they are very comfortable and are very easy to move.
At first, I thought you meant you were wearing your boyfriend’s jeans? (Joking around)
Jeanist: (all are laughing)
Mai Honda: (Laughing) I don’t have a boyfriend.
Coming to Japan Expo, you see a lot of people into Japanese pop culture. Does that surprise you?
Maki Shima: I think American people are so kind. So kind to Japanese people. I love America because of freedom. We would like Americans to visit Kojima Street in Okayama prefecture (Note: For those who love Selvedge Japanese denim, Okayama is the place to visit as most Japanese denim comes from Okayama). There are many shops, cafe, even denim ice cream.
I have to ask…who is your favorite singer or music group?
Mai Honda: I love Michael Jackson. I love Ringo Shiina and Tokyo Jihen.
Emiri Konoe: I love SIA and Naotaro Moriyama.
Maki Shima: I love Lady GaGa and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Today, you’ll be performing at Japan Expo. How many songs will you be performing?
Jeanist: We will be performing four songs today.
Of the songs, which is your favorite to perform?
Mai Honda: I really love our original song, “My Best Friend”.
Emiri Konoe: I love “Zutto Zutto”.
Maki Shima: I like “I Can’t Say Goodbye”.
In most of our J!-ENT interviews, we do a word play. I will give you a sentence and you fill in the blank. So, let’s go ahead and start…
a) The last movie I watched in the theater was ______________?
Maki Shima: The last movie I watched was “Jurassic World” on the plane.
Emiri Konoe: I watched “Mama Mia” on the airplane.
Mai Honda: I watched “Fathers and Daughters”.
Maki Shima: As for newer movie, the last one I watched was “My Intern”. (Note: Known in the U.S. as “The Intern”)
b) Every time I head to the store, I have to purchase ______________?
Maki Shima: Shorts
Mai Honda: Soy milk.
Emiri Konoe: Fruits….Sorbet.
c) Before a performance, I like to ______________?
Maki Shima: Stretching.
Mai Honda: Practice breathing.
Emiri Konoe: (Demonstrating how they practice breathing)
What final words would you like to say to your fans?
Jeanist: We would love to come to America, especially here in Los Angeles again. When we become bigger, we would love to perform a concert for our fans.
For more information on Jeanist, please visit: