Three years ago, I attended the first annual Japan Nail Olym Pics in Tokyo as a special international guest. I was there to observe and cover the event for NAILS. Needless to say, having only been to competitions in the United States up until that point, I was thoroughly impressed. The Japan Nailist Association (JNA) — a tightly rim group representing nail techs, manufacturers, schools, and distributors in Japan — put on a top-notch program for everyone involved.
This year I returned to the event as a judge, but not to Tokyo. The fourth annual Japan Nail Olym Pics were held in Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 1-2. So why Hawaii? Yoshio Mizuno, 2006 chairman for the Nail Olym Pics, CEO/president of Nails Unique, and an executive member of the JNA, explains it, “The JNA is really trying to bridge the gap between the United States and Japan in the nail world. Twenty years ago, we used to see the United States as the leader in all things nail-related. But in recent years, we’ve really been proud of the work and nail techs that are coming out of Japan. We hope we can cultivate the international nail community and further the exchange of information to help develop a stronger worldwide nail community.”
More than 450 competitors competed in the two-day event, culminating in an exciting awards ceremony. Competitors from all over Japan, as well as international competitors representing Russia, England, Argentina, and the United States, competed in three levels — Junior, Professional, and Olympic — in everything from French Nail Care to French Sculptured to Emboss Art Sculpture. There were even some fun categories including Pair French Sculpture (where there were two nail techs each doing one hand of the same model) and the new “Naitiful” category that is somewhat like our Fantasy division. Carrying the Hawaiian spirit, the theme of Naitiful — a new word combining “nail” and “beautiful” — was aloha or “love.”
The dual theme of aloha spirit and building the relationship with all nail communities on an international level rang strong throughout the event. In addition to the competitions, stage demonstrations and panel discussions were held several times each day. It was a true global conference with members of JNA’s executive committee discussing similarities and differences with key nail industry members from the U.S.
- American International Industries’ David Daniel, Antony Buckley, Mary Seitzinger, Beth Oney, and MaeLing Parrish kept cool with Japanese-style fans between competitions.
- Danny Haile, Tom Holcomb, and Hannah Lee were all special guest judges from the United States
- Models show off their nails after one of the on-stage demonstrations.
- Sixty teams of two worked in unison for the Pair French Sculpture competition. Each nail tech did one hand — and yes the nails on both hands had to be consistent.
- Hannah and JNA executive board member Mr. Misno take a break from the action total about international nail relations.
- Members of JNAs executive committee, including (from left) Susumu Kitamura, Masahic Takijawa, and Youji Fujiwara, joined the United States’ Hannah Lee and David Daniel onstage to discuss similarities and differences in the two countries.
- Russia’s Elena Maltseva won first place in the Naitiful competition with her “Dream of Hawaii” theme.
- The panel enjoys a minute offstage. David Daniel, Mr. Fujiwara, Mr Kitamura, Hannah, Mr Takijawa, and Mr. Misno.
- Chie Iwai and Yuri Sugita accept their award for Pair French Sculpture from judge Tom Holcomb.
- The United States’ Beth Oney received the JNA Best Performance Award from JNA chairman Mr. Kitamura.
- The Junior Overall winners were Grand Champion Yuuka Nishiyama (center), 2nd place winner Hiroko Abe, and 3rd place winner Yumiko Itabashi.
- The Professional Overall winners were Grand Champion Chie Iwai (center), 2nd place winner Miho Hokari, and 3rd place winner Yuri Sugita, herewith Mr Misno.
- After the awards, guests were treated to a traditional Hawaiian hula show. Head judges Kaneko Miyuki (left) and Sachiko Nakasone (right) celebrated the successful competition with Hannah.
- Some of the international Olympic competitors (MaeLing, Argentina’s Virginia Arleo, judge Carla Collier, Beth, and Mary) pose with JNA public relations officer and trusty translator, Akihiko Nakajima.
- The hardworking JNA staff were honored and finally got to let loose after’ making sure the event went off without a hitch.
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