It used to be that ONLY foreign models with blonde hair and blue eyes worked successfully in Tokyo. This, thankfully, is no longer the case. Although still predominantly a "white" market, a strong trend to becoming more multicultural is what this industry seems to heading towards.
In this section, we'll take a look at the measurements and features generally expected from models to possess in Japan. By no means is this the last word on the subject. Take it as a guide that's based on a great number of past successes. In any case, for all men and women, great smiles are the ultimate asset, for the Tokyo market is about as commercial as they come.
For women, skin condition is extremely important. It is probably the number one thing clients look for in models; clean, smooth skin. And, generally speaking, the whiter the better. Hair is preferred straight or with a slight wave, so make any neccessary adjustments if you have to. Longer hair promotes versatility, although there are plenty of whom that work well with shorter hair. As for color, stick with blonde to dark brown and leave any shades of red at home.
Measurements for girls. (The following is the general range most models fall into. During show season (March-April & Sept-Oct) taller girls are considered.
Height: 5'7" (170cm) to 5'10" (178cm)
Bust: below 35.5" (90cm) and no larger than a "B" cup.
Waist: below 25.0" (64cm)
Hips: below 35.5" (91cm)
The reason for these particulars is simple; the model must be able to fit into Japanese sized clothing! These are not big people were talking here, so size is important and many times as important than the model's actual look. And age? Well, some girls arrive to Tokyo as young as 14 but most are between 17 and 24.
For guys, a clean-shaven face, strong jaw-line, neatly styled hair (that's not too long), a trim body(not too hairy!) and a solid book are what count. The look is not "hard" (although sometimes required). Normally a clean, nice-guy and "handsome" type of image is what's sought after. Popular roles are 'the teen', 'the boyfriend', 'the young father' and the classic 'businessman'. Ages vary from 17 to late 20s and early 30s.
Measurements for guys. (The following is the general range most models fall into. During show season (March-April & Sept-Oct) taller guys are considered.
Height: 5'11" (180cm) to 6'2" (188cm)
Chest: below 39" (100cm)
Waist: around 32" (81cm) or below
Hips: below 38.5" (98cm)
For the "sweet" and "innocent" segment of the market, agencies unleash their young, fresh girls to compete for on-the-cover honors of numerous teen magazines and comic books. The Japanese absolutely adore "cute", so this part of the industry will always be in demand. BIG MONEY, however, is also made in tv commercials, posters and in the seemingly infinite amount of catalogues.
Nowadays, to win jobs such as these depends largely on portfolios and auditions. Tokyo has become very competitive and although it is quite refreshing to know that it is way more open to new and different looks, the importance of proving yourself worthy at a casting, cannot be over-emphasized.