At first glance this Japanese family look like three sisters holding their children. But the photo, which is making the rounds on Chinese social media, actually shows three generations! And it seems no one can quite believe their eyes. Which one is the grandmother?!
Kazuko Inoue is a bimajo (“beautiful witch”), the Japanese word for an entrancing woman over 35 who looks younger than her years. The 42-year-old was crowned winner of the Kansai Bimajo beauty pageant last year, and if this photo of her with her two daughters and three grandchildren is anything to go by, we can see why!
Japan has the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world, so grandmothers in their early 40s are relatively rare. Inoue got married at 19 – young enough to require her parents’ consent – and had her first daughter the same year.
▼ Did you guess correctly? The 42-year-old grandmother is on the right!
After being featured in Japanese women’s magazine 美ST (“be story”), the photos were picked up by Chinese media. They quickly garnered a huge response on social media sites including Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter; a typical response being along the lines of “No way does that picture show three generations! They gotta be sisters!”
Chinese netizens were shocked (and impressed) by Inoue’s appearance, too:
“Unbelievable! How is she so beautiful!?”
“She looks like she’s in her twenties!”
“Is she HUMAN?!”
▼ Inoue believes beauty means “always being grateful for what you have, and letting your inner beauty show”.
▼ “Real beauty is natural beauty,” she adds. We bet she wants world peace, too.
Other Chinese netizens were intrigued about Inoue’s husband (not pictured!):
“I know heaps of guys who would love to be the man of that house.”
“I feel sorry for the husband – think how much money it must cost to keep them looking that good.”
The astonished reaction to the story also shows anxieties about the age of childbirth. Net users were quick to point out that under China’s strict population control measures, a woman in China who had a child before the age of 20 would probably face a large fine. As more and more people in Japan delay having children, Japanese people tend not to become grandparents until much later.
Inoue’s daughters, however, both followed in her footsteps to marry and have children relatively young. But will there be any updated photos with four generations when the grandchildren have grown up? We can only wait and see.