Japan’s first Bachelorette is Moeko Fukuda, a 32-year-old model, TV personality, sports traveler and nutritionist from Okinawa who finished third at the Miss Universe Japan contest in 2010. She’s appeared in short films, dramas and variety programs as well as serving as a navigator on two movie shows where she worked with the likes of Johnny Depp, David Fincher and Tom Cruise. She’s also currently learning to play the koto and studying a host of different languages.
The concept of The Bachelorette Japan is the same as The Bachelor Japan, just with the gender roles reversed: the leading lady embarks on a journey to find a future husband from a pool of eligible male participants. They try to impress her on luxurious dates and those who do enough to win her affection are given roses. The rest are sent packing. Without giving too much away, fitness fanatic Fukuda spoke with Tokyo Weekender about her onscreen search for true love.
How would you describe yourself?
I would say I’m a positive person who loves taking on new challenges even if I’m not good at some of them. I try to stay active and spend as much time as I can surrounded by nature. My biggest passions are sport and travel so I mix those two things together when I can. I’ve been to more than 30 countries and whenever I go overseas, I bring my bicycle. It’s not just cycling, though, I run, swim and do all kinds of activities. It’s a fun way to experience different cities around the world.
“The one thing I really dislike is people who generalize.”
What have been some of your favorite destinations?
I’m a big fan of UNESCO World Heritage Sites so going to the historic cities of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and Toledo in Spain were very special. Visiting the El Greco Museum in the latter was particularly memorable. The country I keep going back to is Italy. I’ve been there more than 20 times in total and five times last year on cycling tours. There are many beautiful sites, the food’s amazing and it’s wonderful how expressive the locals are. I’m studying the language and inside I feel I’m Italian. [Laughs].
Did you meet any Italian men on The Bachelorette?
No one from Italy, but it’s a very international series with participants from Brazil, Paraguay, Australia, China, America and of course Japan.
Why did you decide to become the Bachelorette?
The timing was right. Initially, I didn’t think it would be the kind of show I’d want to do, but then I broke up with my boyfriend. We were only together for six months, but I thought he was the one. I put all my energy into the relationship and gave him all my love, then in an instant it was over. Soon after that I spoke to the producers of the program and discussed what we thought true love was and how to find it. I decided to go for it.
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At the beginning what kind of partner were you hoping to find?
I didn’t have any expectations. I was ready to accept all kinds of people. I basically wanted to know their true characters and discover what made each of them special. On the opening night there isn’t time to do that so at first, I tried to go for guys who looked like they had strong minds. If they appeared weak from an emotional perspective, I thought it might have got harder for them as the weeks went on. When the show airs they could get bad comments and struggle to cope with that. I didn’t want anyone to suffer mentally.
What is your biggest turn off in a partner?
The one thing I really dislike, and I’m not just talking in terms of finding a partner, is people who generalize. In Japanese we say “kimetsuke” – it’s a kind of prejudice where you’ve made up your mind on someone without getting to know them. They’ll ask what you do or if you’re single and make assumptions based on your answers. I don’t care about a person’s age, nationality, sexuality or profession. It’s important what’s inside. Who they really are, what they enjoy doing and what drives them.
Did the first three seasons of The Bachelor Japan have any influence on how you approached things?
No. [Laughs] I did watch some episodes but they didn’t have an effect on me in terms of what I wanted to do on the program. The important thing was to get to know the guys as much as possible, find out their strengths and open up their minds. That’s not always easy in Japan. Expressing yourself and showing love for someone isn’t really part of our culture. Being on a reality TV program makes that more difficult. Even though they were in front of cameras, my aim was to encourage them to show their real personalities.
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How was your overall experience on the show?
I enjoyed every moment. Every single date was memorable. I’m not talking in terms of going to gorgeous locations or expensive restaurants, but the fact that I was able to face my dates and communicate with them on a meaningful level. It’s an amazing feeling to have a real understanding and mutual connection with someone and when that happens it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
The hardest part was the first night. It was intense. I don’t like judging people yet for the opening rose ceremony I had to choose 12 guys and eliminate five without having proper conversations with them. Everyone’s unique and special in their own way but I didn’t have the opportunity to find out about certain participants because there wasn’t enough time.
“I tried to go for guys who looked like they had strong minds.”
Are you concerned about comments from the public?
If someone who knows me well makes bad comments, I’ll definitely have to rethink my behavior, but regarding negativity from the public I don’t really care. I’d prefer to focus on potential positives. It would make me very happy if people gained more confidence, learned a different set of values or discovered new things from watching me.
What do you think is the biggest appeal of The Bachelorette?
It’s a show about decisions: What kind of date to go on? Who to invite? Who gets a rose? You have to be decisive and take responsibility for your choices. That’s an obvious but important message in life. We can’t sit around and wait for others to tell us what to do. You create your own destiny and need to be proactive. I think viewers can relate to that.