Born and raised in Tokyo, import model Coco Komatsu was brought to my attention by another very talented lady, model, artist, and designer April Syrup, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last year
Coco began her modeling career in Japan, where she still calls home, but she’s gradually making quite an impact in the US market and her trips to the States are becoming more frequent. One of her most notable appearances has been on the cover of the May 2012 Super Street magazine. More recently, Coco was in Los Angeles for a shoot with her favorite photographer Rey Trajano and an appearance at Autocon, where she was one of the featured models.
Despite her very busy schedule, Coco took some time out during her recent stay in California, where she was very willing and able to answer most of my questions. Besides being an extremely sweet and gracious lady, she speaks much better English than she gives herself credit for ….particularly impressive since she’s mostly self-taught.
CHRIS CHARLES: Thank you for doing this, Coco. As you know, April Syrup told me about you. How did the two of you meet?
COCO KOMATSU: I met her in Japan at a Bebe clothing brand fashion show. We have worked together as models in Tokyo, and we are good friends.
CHRIS: You recently appeared in the magazine Toyota SUV & Trucks. What was doing that photo shoot like?
COCO: The shooting was in the Yokohama Bayside area in Japan. The theme was “American girl with a big truck.” I am full Japanese, but I look unique, more than the typical Japanese “kawaii” look, so I got the opportunity to do the shoot. Yokohama is a really nice area for chilling. You should definitely visit there when you come to Japan!
CHRIS: Did many people recognize you when you were at Tokyo Auto Salon 2013?
COCO: Hmm, not really but some American people talked to me! I was so happy that a lot of foreigners come all the way from overseas to visit Tokyo for the TAS!
CHRIS: How often do you travel outside of Japan for photo shoots?
COCO: Once or twice a year but I want to travel more.
CHRIS: Do you plan on moving to Los Angeles someday?
COCO: I DO want to move to the U.S! I would like to expand my modeling career more and more.
CHRIS: What do you think you would miss the most about Japan?
COCO: I would say I would miss mostly Japanese food, and the convenient public transportation.
CHRIS: When you were in the US, was there anything you found odd, like a custom, food, something you saw, whatever?
COCO: When I was in LA last month, I tried a lot of food. I especially loved Pazookie® and American sushi BSCR (Baked Scallop on California Roll)! Also, American people always yell to others! (laughs) I have never been yelled at from other people so I can’t get used to it. But I love LA!
CHRIS: Do you also enjoy things that are very traditionally Japanese, such as holidays, customs, dress, etc.?
COCO: Yes, I love my culture! I love to go to Japanese festival “Matsuri”, I like to visit shrines, temples and the old traditional city of Asakusa. Also, I grew up with very traditional family so I used to play a shamisen, which is a Japanese traditional instrument, like a guitar, and I studied Japanese traditional dancing for 10 years. I have tons of Japanese traditional dresses, “kimonos,” at my house. More than 20. I wear them at New Years, and on birthdays.
CHRIS: Who have been some of your favorite photographers to work with?
COCO: Rey Trajano. He is amazing.
CHRIS: You looked great and really authentic in the boxing photo shoot you did for All Hail Productions. Have you actually taken boxing lessons?
COCO: No I have never taken those classes so I had to figure out how to pose, but a professional boxer was there at the shooting so he helped me a lot!
CHRIS: What sports to you enjoy playing?
COCO: Cheerleading, dancing and swimming.
CHRIS: I hear you’re also very skilled at riding a unicycle?
COCO: (Laughs) Yes! In Japan, we have P.E. class in elementary school where we are taught to ride a unicycle. A lot of Japanese girls can ride a unicycle.
CHRIS: Do you have any plans to branch out to acting?
COCO: Yes I would definitely try if I have any chance.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or skills that most people don’t know about?
CHRIS:Well, you can now add this to your growing list of publications you’ve appeared in, Coco. In closing, and shout-outs to anyone?
COCO: Thank you so much for supporting and loving me! Hope I will have a lot of opportunities as a Japanese model and hopefully visit overseas more often! Arigato! Hit me up on Twitter, Instagram, and my Facebook fan page.
CHRIS: Oh, just one more question: After that incident at the football game, do you now make sure to lock the door whenever you use a portable restroom? COCO: Wow, you searched about me a lot! I’m surprised. Yes (in answer to the question), that’s my trauma (laughs).
At left: From her May 2012 feature in Super Street magazine.
Right: From a very recent shoot with Rey Trajano
From the “Knockout” photo shoot with TD Konkara for All Hail Productions
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
Hwang Mi-hee (26) is currently one of the most popular and most photographed racing/car show models in Korea. According to her brief bio, the 174cm tall beauty began her modeling career just last year