Minami Tanaka’s rise to stardom through photos, movie and fashion

Courtesy of Kose Cosmeport Corp.
Minami Tanaka in a promotional photo for Je l’aime Relax, a new hair-care product series from Kose Cosmeport

Minami Tanaka has been the “it” woman of late. Born in 1986, she started her career as an announcer at major TV station TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System), which she quit in September 2014. She turned freelance the following month at the age of 27.

When she was working for TBS, she was regularly ranked high on the Shukan Bunshun weekly general magazine’s poll about female announcers disliked by the public for her burikko behavior, or acting overly cute. She used to be regarded as a woman scorned by women. However, before we knew it, she managed to turn this label to her advantage and establish her cutesy persona.

She cemented her popularity in 2019 when she released a photo book, “Sincerely yours…” published by Takarajimasha, Inc., which was reprinted four times and sold more than 500,000 copies in just one month, thereby becoming the 51-year-old publisher’s highest selling book.

“[The photo book’s] promotional events are mainly attended by women, but men have bought more copies. I’ve come to understand what kind of magazines are effective for me to appear in to publicize the book,” Tanaka said of the book on a variety show. She knew that women hated her but were also curious about her.

In August 2020 she changed agencies, saying she wanted to take on new challenges, and she won acclaim in 2021 for playing the lead role in a film for the first time in “Zutto Dokushin de Iru Tsumori?” (Are you planning on being single forever?). The film, adapted from a manga, tells the story of a 36-year-old writer who is surrounded by people concerned that she will remain single forever. I think Tanaka finally found her raison d’etre in this film.

In Japan, famous female announcers have a star status on par with popular TV personalities. However, Tanaka has revealed that she finished second in her university’s beauty pageant with her petite figure and that she failed in her attempt to join Fuji Television. These episodes endow her with a somewhat more relatable mystique.

She openly discusses her relationships on TV and seems to want to get married. Yet she has somehow remained single, and as she has grown older, she has appeared to gain more female fans. On the aforementioned variety show, she gave the following analysis of her popularity: Women like me because I am 36 years old, remain unmarried and look a bit out of luck.”

Courtesy of Wacoal Corp.
Tanaka poses in a concept photo for Wacoal’s Peach John lingerie brand.

Tanaka has done all sorts of modeling for various fashion brands. Among her appearances, she made her biggest splash as the brand model for Wacoal’s Peach John brand lingerie in 2021. She won this job after being voted No. 1 by a considerable margin in a poll where women voted on which celebrity’s chest they wanted their own to look like.

“I used to have an inferiority complex concerning my chest, but it disappeared after I started doing jobs in which I have to make my chest look attractive,” she said after being appointed the brand’s star model. She also worked hard to make her body look fit before shooting the main photos for the project. As a result, the bras she wore in the advertisements sold out one after another.

Turning herself into a hot topic with a photo book and building a career as a model by becoming the star of a lingerie brand — she has certainly worked hard in many fields to move up in the world. I wonder if this was all part of her calculations.

This year, Tanaka has been named the star for TV commercials that advertise Je l’aime Relax, a new product line for Kose Cosmeport’s hair care brand Je l’aime.

“Since I turned 30, I’ve had more and more hair troubles. I was just getting really into hair care, so I’m glad I had this offer at such a good time,” Tanaka said. It seems she has been into beauty care for a long time. She even takes time to give advice to her Twitter followers who have concerns on the subject. In 2020, she was chosen as the most beautiful person in the Voce Cosmetics Awards 2020, which were hosted by the beauty care magazine Voce published by Kodansha Ltd.

Beside working for top-tier Japanese companies, such as Wacoal and Kose, Tanaka has also worked for lesser-known brands, such as Snidel of Mash Style Lab Co. and Clane of Clane Design Co. Somehow I have a premonition that Tanaka will start her own fashion brand sooner or later. In any case, whatever she does next deserves our attention, big time.

Akira Miura

Miura is a journalist and a former editor in chief of WWD Japan.