updated 18 May 2012, 14:24
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Fri, May 11, 2012
The New Paper
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Meet Japan's Lady of Eternal Youth
by Maureen Koh

When this housewife from Nagoya, Japan, first submitted her photos to a fashion magazine four years ago, she didn't expect that she'd turn into a celebrity.

The magazine was on the hunt for models.

In a short e-mail interview with The New Paper on Sunday, she admits that she's awed by the attention she gets, even till today.

Ms Masako Mizutani, who turns 44 in September, says: "I joined the contest just for fun. I didn't think I'd make an impression because there were so many beautiful Japanese women."

But her picture stood out among the thousands of photos sent in and the judges were taken aback when they checked her age.

She says: "I think they just didn't expect it."

She became an instant hit after she was invited to share her beauty secrets on a Japanese television show.

Ms Mizutani finds it amusing that she's been called "Japan's Lady of Eternal Youth".

"I didn't think it was really a big deal. It's a woman's duty to take care of herself."

She declines to discuss her family, adding that she wants to protect their privacy, particularly since her daughter is 20 years old. She also has an 18-year-old son.

Ms Mizutani says: "The sudden spotlight was initially overwhelming. We didn't feel comfortable that people were curious to know what my daughter looks like."

Following the TV programme, she found herself invited to beauty events and talk shows.

"I felt really honoured," she says.

She was also approached to host a blog to share beauty tips, which she agreed to without hesitation.

Says Ms Mizutani: "If not for my fans and all the supporters, I don't think I'd step out into the public eye."

Her fame, she confesses, was initially confined to Japan until "some show, I'm not sure if it was Taiwanese or Chinese", picked up her story.

Soon, her photos were all over the Internet and there was a renewed buzz.

"Now," she adds, "Everyone knows that I spend at least five hours on my beauty regime a day."

Ms Mizutani feels that women, particularly those who marry and have children, tend to neglect their beauty regime after they hit their 30s.

She says: "That should not be the case. If you don't love yourself, how do you expect to be loved?"

Now that her children are grown up, MsMizutani says she has more time on her hands.

When she is not attending events or giving interviews, she spends time shopping, cooking and catching up with friends.

"Doing what women generally do, nothing exceptional," she says.

Ms Mizutani is also aware that sceptics have accused her of lying about her age and that her photos have been heavily photoshopped.

She says: "My conscience is clear as far as what my age is. As for the photos being touched up, well, if fans do that, I can't help it."

She then throws a challenge: "Follow my blog and then you'll get the real me. Nothing more, nothing less."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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