July 31, 2021
B&M's 's Kelly Foss on set in Tokyo
The grass is green, the sky is blue, the sun is hot, and thousands roam the streets amongst you. While traffic jams and bicyclists 'on sidewalks' may get in the way, the subway and model vans will take you anywhere straight away.
Umbrellas roam the streets whether rain or shine, 7-11's and 100 Yen shops are a great place to shop and dine, and vending machines stand by every stop sign. Iced coffee is a huge obsession but it comes with good discretion. The ice keeps you cool and the caffeine keeps you awake and aware in an earthquake. But don't fret the quake; they are tiny so your life is not at stake.
Speaking of tiny, say goodbye to the word 'super size!' Everything is smaller here – from mini pop/juice cans, hamburgers and Starbucks coffees, to thin cars, skinny roads, and short ceilings, this place is like a miniature wonderland. This is my new modelling market and home. This is summer 2008 in Tokyo Japan!
While I will forever miss Hong Kong, I am enjoying the Japanese modelling market. Though I do admit an initial culture shock toward the lack of English signs and people here. Unlike HK, British people do not roam the streets, and the majority (if not all) people do not speak English! Including model clients.
Luckily my model roommates and I have a manager that comes with us to each of our castings. This is how it is done here. I no longer have to travel to castings on my own. Our manager Kumi, a lovable, humorous Australian-accented Japanese girl, drives us to each of our castings and speaks directly to the clients while they swift through our model books.
B&M's 's Kelly Foss in Shibuya, Tokyo
While Kumi helps to curve the Japanese language barrier on castings, it can be difficult to navigate when you are on your own (in the beginning). I will never forget when I got off the plane in search of juice, just a simple bottle of juice, any kind. After searching through a bunch of Japanese cans I finally just grabbed a random one. Thankfully I found myself drinking some refreshing iced green tea.
However, when in search of milk I accidentally found myself drinking a milk box of cream. My driver Kumi said with a laugh, "Kelly do you know what you are drinking?" I replied, "milk right?" Since then Kumi has helped me identify key words such as "milk" and "sugar" and necessary labels such as "fat," "calories," and "sugar" so that I know what I am eating/drinking. Kumi has also kindly brought us to local drug stores to distinguish between cosmetic and cleaning products.
Nevertheless, despite the large language barrier here, I promise that over a couple of days it will get easier for you to get around. Non-verbal language and a Japanese "hello and goodbye" can go a long way. I have already learned quite a few words. My favorite saying is "Arigato Gozaimasu" (pronounced "ah-lee-gah-toh goh-zi-mahs"), which means, 'thank you very much.' Plus to greet someone (say hello) you say "Konnichiwa." Though when you answer the phone to say 'hello' you would say "moshimoshi" (pronounced "mosh-she-mosh-she"). According to my manager "moshimoshie" is too informal to use in person. Lastly, to say 'goodbye' is simply "Sayonara!" (pronounced sa-yo-na-ra). I swear it sounds Mexican but Japanese it is.
As a model, you will often find yourself using these sayings when interacting with clients. Sometimes you don't even need to speak. Let's just say, castings are pretty easy here. You literally hand them your book, get a few pictures taken, and say thank you with a smile. I know it sounds pretty degrading and seriously easy, but don't get me wrong, a model's life and work is not a breeze. It's actually HARD WORK. It's long hours, constant running around – and remember we are not wearing running shoes! Plus there is a lot of rejection involved and risk taking. Models are always taking criticism so having a strong head on one's shoulders in very important. Building a model portfolio is what makes it all worth it in the end.
Kelly Foss with the litte Buddha and at
the Temple in Asakusa
For the past two weeks I have been busy driving around in the model van going from casting to casting. Approximately 2-6 castings per day, I do not mind cruising around because I am getting the opportunity to promote myself to prospective clients. I just bring my laptop, a book, my iPod, and a few snacks to keep me busy. The days can roll on from noon to late evenings sometimes but I personally don't mind at all. I want to meet as many people as possible so that I can work as much as possible.
On the first day I arrived I went on three castings and one of which booked me for the next day. Two photographers hired me for a photo shoot session, which involved two professionals directing 'up and coming' photographers. Shot in two places, a famous Garden in Tokyo and their photography studio, I had a total of seven photographers photographing me at the same time. The cool thing about this gig is that I get free photos for my book. It also paid quite well.
That is what is especially fantastic about the Tokyo market. The money is the best out of all Asian markets.
I have tried out for a few commercials. I am particularly hoping that I land one of the commercials because I would like to add some acting experience to my resume – especially when I have to speak Japanese in these commercials. These auditions made me realize why the models on this past season's "American's Next Top Model" had such a hard time memorizing a few foreign words. It's not as easy as it seems! I take back it all back... it's tough stuff!
That is all for now from Tokyo! Wish me luck
Kelly Foss is a B&M model, currently with Yoshie in Tokyo.