The 52nd Miss International Beauty Contest was held last Sunday in Naha city, Okinawa, with Japan taking the top prize for the first time since the contest began in 1960.

The contest, which is said to be judged on “friendship, beauty and intelligence”, sees women from around the globe aged 19-29 compete against each-other to “promote worldwide peace, goodwill and understanding.”

Each of the contestants is interviewed for five minutes by a panel of judges, wherein they have to speak about themselves and prove their international awareness, before moving on to an evening dress round where they are judged on “poise, grace and elegance”. Finally, the girls are allowed to dress as they like in a “free wear” round, provided that the outfit has been approved by the panel beforehand. So, no string bikinis, then?

Japan’s representative, 25-year-old Ikumi Yoshimatsu from Saga prefecture, was thrilled to be crowned Miss International, and described the experience as “a dream come true!”

“When I heard the word ‘Japan’, I wasn’t sure whether it was all real or not.”

As well as receiving a fetching crown, Ms. Yoshimatsu received a generous cash prize of 2 million yen (US$25,000).

While the organisers of Miss International go to great lengths to assure the public that the contest is based on more than just good looks, we have yet to hear any of the rousing speeches that the ladies gave during their interviews, and how the judges made their final decision.

What we do have, though, is photos!

So let’s take a look at a few of this year’s entrants…

▼Miss Spain shows us her pearly whites

▼Miss Guam teaching us all that world peace begins with careful eyebrow maintainance…

▼Miss USA proves that she flosses twice daily. Such healthy gums!

▼Miss UK rocks the “I just woke up, yet am wearing my make-up” look

▼This year’s winner, Miss Japan

▼Miss Suriname ready to weaken knees the world over…

▼Finally, Miss Korea steals this writer’s heart and probably means I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.

During their stay on the island, the girls were given plenty of time to socialise and explore the land and culture, even attending a junior high school where, understandably, the kids went absolutely crazy.

Just look at some of these little guys’ faces…

“Best. Day. Ever.”

Since the contest took place in Okinawa, home of The Karate Kid‘s Mr Miyagi, the contestants also engaged in a spot of karate training, and were treated to a genuinely impressive display by some of the school’s best martial artists.

But when the fun and games were over, it was back to the important business of looking beautiful while saying things about the world. There could be only one winner, and this year, it was Miss Japan who took the prize.

While we don’t deny for a second that Miss Japan is a very beautiful young woman, one can’t help wondering whether the contest was entirely fair, seeing as 13 of the 15-person judging panel were Japanese…

But how did the contest and Japan’s win go down with Japanese Twitter users?

Naturally, there was plenty of healthy scepticism out there, but others argued that “although the contest was held in Japan, it’s been held here a few times, and this was our first win, so I don’t think this was biased whatsoever!”

Well, that’s us told…

Rather, what seemed to bother most of Japan’s netizens was not the validity of the contest, but the amount of make-up the contestants wore…

“Maybe that heavy make-up style works abroad, but I don’t think it suits Asian girls…”

“I don’t deny the fact that these girls are classically beautiful, but I don’t think they’d actually be all that popular with the boys in real life.”

“Frankly speaking, all that make-up on a girl is kind of scary…”

“I’d love to see these girls without their war-paint…”

So there you have it, folks; Japan likes its girls a little less dolled-up. Keep it simple, ladies!

I’ll leave you with this great video from 1990s British sitcom Father Ted. Quite frankly, whenever I hear the words “beauty contest”, this is all I can think of, so I feel it would be rather remiss of me not to share…

Source: Kyousoku Title image: Adventures of a Beauty Queen Photos / video: Miss International