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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Okinawa PrO-Files, Miss Orion 2011

Ms. Aimi-san today (Miss Orion 2011)

Miss Orion 2011

If you have ever been to an Orion Beer Festival on Okinawa, chances are you saw a few young girls in their mid-twenties, donned in mostly white, neatly cut uniforms. They have all the endearing personalities of the girl next door, with bright smiles that could easily light up an entire room. They are none other than the Orion Campaign Girls; Orion Breweries' most prized, coveted company icons.

Meet Aimi-san. She was one of three girls selected to represent the Okinawan beer company throughout 2011. Back then, her official title...The Orion Campaign Girl, but to many of us, she is simply Miss Orion.

I had the great fortune of meeting Ms. Aimi in 2011 while she was working at her second job at a local cafe. Her adept English skills was what started the whole conversation. The more I got to know her, the more impressed I was with her energetic, friendly and outgoing personality. Aside from being a full time ambassador for Orion Breweries and holding a second job, she was also attending college majoring in English.

Curious to know, I asked her, what was it like being an Orion Campaign Girl and how did it all happen?

Aimi, who was born and raised in Ginoza Village, explained that the whole idea actually came from her father. Aimi recalls being quite surprised when he first mentioned it to her. Wasn't long after, she found herself being escorted by her dad to a photography studio for audition photos. Aimi was thrilled. She had been searching for something new and exciting to do in her life. Maybe this was it? The application was sent off and several months later, she got the anxious phone call. Her and 59 other girls were chosen during the first round of the selection process.

That was only the beginning. Aimi would have to attend 5 other interviews in front of a panel of judges which included a model performance and a photography session. By the end of the whole process, the selection committee had narrowed it down to six girls. Three would walk away and be inscribed in the annals of Orion Beer history forever. Now, it was just a matter of waiting for the results.

Aimi, vividly remembers that day in September of 2010. It was during a basketball game with her friends when she got the call. She and two other girls were going to be Orion Campaign Girls!

But being a representative of a major beer company is no walk in the park. She had to be properly trained in the Art of Campaigning,...Orion style; everything from knowing the company's history, to learning how to walk and bow with grace, to even learning how to properly drink beer from a cup. For an entire year, thousands and thousands of would-be fans and audience members would be watching Aimi. She had to be ready.

After about a month of hard training, she and the rest of the Campaign Girls were sent off for duty hitting major events across the Okinawa islands, to include Ishigaki and Miyako. Everything from attending beer festivals to greeting fans to reading game rules to contestants, Aimi and her team would be on the road with bright smiles in their pearly white uniforms. Aimi recalls one of her fondest moments was when all three girls got to perform on an Okinawan television program called Okinawa Bon, where they won first prize in the show's talent contest.

Ms. Aimi (Miss Orion) in 2011. Photo taken by Michael R. Lynch

When asked, what was the most difficult part of her tenure as Miss Orion, it was the pressure she laughs. Sometimes she was expected to make speeches or announcements from memory. Often, however, she wasn't given the material to memorize until an hour before showtime. There was that and the constant pressure of always putting on a happy face. Once you put on that uniform in public you are only in one mode; happy mode. You can never show disappointment, never frown, never be seen tired. You can only smile; which can be a very daunting task when you have to stand long hours, serving beer and greeting hundreds of fans – some not all that sober either.

And then...there was the occasional overzealous fan. That was one of Aimi's nerve-wracking moments. Luckily for her, authorities detained him and wasn't seen since.

Overall though, Aimi enjoyed her experience. She got to meet a lot of people. That is what she enjoyed the most. In her free time, like any girl, she loves to go shopping with her friends and occasionally likes to view the sunset from her favorite spot.

When asked about her dreams, she says she just wants to enjoy life now as much as she can while she's still young. Aimi is currently studying to be a tour guide, but one day would like to have her own cafe.

This is Aimi-san, the girl next door, Campaign Girl, and Miss Orion 2011.

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