She’s already a popular figure in Japan and now—thanks mainly to her cute two-year-old daughter—a big name in Korea too, but SHIHO displays none of the airs and graces you might expect from a famous model. The down-to-earth star recently sat down with Weekender to discuss a number of topics including her work, family and the Return of Superman (no, not that one).

By Matthew Hernon

“I can’t believe I have been modeling for twenty years now,” she tells us. “Things have changed so much in that time. I remember when I first started doing it, the fashion industry felt like it was in some distant land that was only for top professionals. These days, however, you can see all kinds of models and a growing number of what you might call ‘regular’ people in magazines and catalogues. That is what consumers and readers want and they are being listened to more than they were in the past.

“I think it is a positive thing, but at the same time it means designers and photographers cannot be as dictatorial, which makes it harder for them to show their inventive side. Having said all that, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some really creative people down the years and that is why I decided to write my new book.”

Called SHIHO and Great Creators, it’s an in-depth look at the endeavors of various artists, hairstylists, photographers, producers, and designers that have collaborated with the model over the past eight years. The book, which was released late last month, also includes 49 of SHIHO’s interviews with her collaborators, and giving her readers a better understanding of the qualities and intricacies that go into certain professions.

SHIHO, as pictured in the upcoming book.

SHIHO, as pictured in the upcoming book.

“Of course we discussed a number of issues, but what I wanted to hear most from each person was the one particular style or technique that has remained constant throughout their career, the one element above all others that has made them successful. That was always the last question I asked them. The answers were all really intriguing and I believe readers can learn a lot from them. The 50th chapter is a bit too long though, that person went on a bit!”

Of course she is speaking about herself. SHIHO certainly does like to talk, barely giving the translator time to finish her sentences. Her favorite topic is her family. She first fell for her husband when she saw him at a K1 fight; she finally got to meet him two years later, and they married in 2009. The couple were soon christened “Beauty and the Beast” by the Japanese media. Her daughter was born not long after and has quickly become a child star.

For the past few months she has appeared alongside her dad on the The Return of Superman, a popular Sunday evening reality TV program in Korea in which four fathers have to take care of their children for 48 hours without any help from the mothers. Audiences up and down the country immediately took to the adorable two-year-old, whose growing fame across the water has even surprised her mother.

“It’s been unbelievable,” SHIHO says. “The only reason I’m known in Korea is because of my daughter; she’s become a superstar there. I wouldn’t let her appear in something similar in Japan though, as this is where she lives and I want to protect her privacy here. I’m not too concerned about her doing it there, however, as it is not her home.

So far there have really only been positives; she’s been learning Korean from a Korean teacher, she’s had some amazing experiences with her father, and as a parent it is great to be able to catch that on film. We can have that forever.”

Whilst clearly enjoying seeing her daughter succeed, SHIHO’s not going to let her take all the limelight. She plans to stay in the public eye and continue modeling for as along as possible. Who could blame her? Still in demand, she looks fantastic and has a reputation as one of the most professional females in the industry. Another twenty years might be pushing it, but one thing is certain: we haven’t seen the last of SHIHO.

Images courtesy of SHIHO

SHIHO’s new book, SHIHO and Great Creators was released on April 24, 2014.
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