Okinawan makeup artist shows her talent at international competitions

Okinawan makeup artist shows her talent at international competitions

Akiko Yamakawa trains to become a top makeup artist in the United States (Photograph provided by Akiko Yamakawa).


April 10, 2014 Naoki Isa of Ryukyu Shimpo

Thirty-three-year-old Akiko Yamakawa from Nago City has been training to become a top makeup artist in the United States. Although she could not speak English in the beginning, she set her mind on success and moved to the United States at the age of 31. At the world’s biggest makeup fair International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in January, she won second prize.

Yamakawa used to work in Okinawa as a hair and makeup artist for TV programs. In 2010, there was a major turning point in her career when she saw a U.S.-based hair artist Yuko Tokunaga from Hyogo prefecture on TV. Yamakawa was so impressed by the veteran artist that she made a special trip to visit her. Tokunaga said, “The United States is a meritocratic society, always challenging.” Yamakawa decided to follow in her footsteps and move to a competitive world. She went to the United States in 2012.

A second prize winning piece at IMATS by Akiko Yamakawa (Photograph provided by Akiko Yamakawa).

In the daytime, she receives practical training at a school and salon Tokunaga runs, and at night she works on pieces for contests.

Throughout the year, the IMATS is held at six locations around the world. Yamakawa entered a contest in Los Angeles. Her Japanese culture and geisha-themed piece won second prize. At an international nail contest NAILPRO Sacramento held last September, she won first prize in the Hand Painted Nail Art Novice Section. She is already scheduled to enter other U.S. competitions.

Her determination to succeed in comeptitions that support her future in the US is the driving force for her success. Yamakawa said, “I would like to continue to challenge myself in this country where many people gather from all over the world.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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