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The photos above are the contestants for the upcoming Kanto Miss JK Contest, a beauty pageant to be held on December 27 in Shibuya, Tokyo to decide on the cutest Japanese high school girl in Kanto, the region on the main island of Japan encompassing Tokyo and the prefectures around it.

Before we say anything too malicious, we’d like to acknowledge that perceptions of beauty—or “cuteness”, in this case—can vary greatly among different cultures. However, as many Japanese netizens have pointed out, a thick mask of makeup and hair dyed brown or blonde is hardly representative of a typical Japanese high school girl, let alone a cute one.

“I had no idea Kanto wasn’t part of Japan”, quips one commenter in a thread on Japan’s largest internet message board, 2channel. “Wait. I thought this was a cute high school girl contest, not a prostitute contest…”, remarks another.

The thread is full of similar comments lamenting the lack of a single contestant who looks like an actual high school student, or “joshi-kosei” (JK); that is to say, a girl with little to no makeup and natural black hair. Most high schools in Japan have strict rules against students dying their hair, though many girls still do so as an act of defiance—and end up being called to the teacher’s room during lunch as a result.

Sure the contestants don’t necessarily have to look like stereotypical Japanese high school girls to be considered cute, but they probably shouldn’t look like they work at hostsess clubs either.

0479f2d2b19adf60aae47e23020226e71237946971_full ^Typical sign outside a hostess club

So what constitutes a “cute high school girl” in Japan?

Here are a few of the top search results we got from typing the term (in Japanese) in Google Images:

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f62040f6-s^Safe Search was on, I swear

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You may be wondering about this last image. This is Moe Iwase, winner of the last Kanto Miss JK Contest, held only a few months ago in August. 15-year-old Iwase was crowned “the cutest high school girl in Kanto” after acquiring the majority of 1,200 total online votes. While she does appear several times at the top of the Japanese “cute high school girl” results, much of that is 2channel saying, “are you kidding me?”

There were 1,600 applicants for this month’s contest, which was finally whittled down to 40 after three rounds of judging in November. On December 6, photos of the final 40 were posted to the contest site and the internet masses were asked to cast their vote for who they think should be the next Miss JK.

The final judging will be based on five factors: (in order of importance) number of popular votes received, number of tweets sent to the contestant by supporters using the hashtag #D1JK2012, number of retweets the contestant receives for tweets that include the same hashtag, number of views their profile on the contest site receives, and number of views to the contest site redirected from the contestant’s personal blog.

To vote, just click the pink button with a heart symbol on the profile of your favorite girl. Your vote will then be sent through Twitter, so make sure to pick someone that won’t cause your friends to judge you any more than they already do.

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My vote went to “Yukaipi” (Senior/158cm/Sagittarius/A blood type), because she’s wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shirt, obviously.

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Source: D-1 Dream Project

▼ I don’t think I would have guessed half of these girls are underage. Single guys best beware on their next trip to Tokyo.

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▼And then there’s “Nenepiyo”, who looks like she’s 14. We just don’t know what to believe anymore.

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