A career kicks off
Japanese-American singer Beni Arashiros star is on
By Chris Betros
of NFL Japan
If you are at Tokyo Dome on Aug 6 for the NFL game between
the Atlanta Falcons and the Indianapolis Colts, youll
see 19-year-old Beni Arashiro singing the national anthems
of Japan and the United States before the game and taking
part in a special performance at half-time. In just 14 months,
Arashiro has gone from unknown student to recording artist
(with five singles), TV ad campaign girl for Kose cosmetics
and Glico confectionery as well as ambassador for the NFL
When I was a little girl, I never dreamed I would be
a singer or even in showbiz, says Arashiro who speaks
fluent English. Actually, I wanted to be in the FBI,
or I thought Id become a lawyer. But I always liked
music. I have played the piano since I was six. Born
in Okinawa to an American father and Japanese mother, Arashiro
moved back and forth between Japan and California. She completed
her high school education in Kanagawa and is currently studying
political science at Sophia University. Her debut into the
Japanese showbiz world came two years ago when her mother
encouraged her to enter the Bishojo Club (a nationwide contest
whose winners go into the modeling and celebrity worlds).
Being a hafu, I didnt think Id do any good,
but I thought it would be fun to give it a try, she
recalls. To her surprise and delight, she was chosen.
Arashiro, who everyone calls Beni-chan, says she has no problem
with the term hafu. I remember some people used to call
me a double, but I had no idea what they were
talking about. I have both cultures in me and am proud of
both. I guess I am more Americanized, though. My English language
skills are stronger and I prefer English interviews because
I can express myself better. Thats one of the
reasons the NFL asked her to be its ambassador in Tokyo. She
recently went to the States to promote the Tokyo Bowl and
did some interviews on TV. Performing in front of the Tokyo
Dome crowd will be her biggest stage to date. I love
American football and really want to see the game but I know
that up until half-time, Im going to be so nervous,
For the near future, Arashiro plans to concentrate on her
singing career. All five of her singles so far have been in
Japanese. I havent done a full CD of English songs
yet. I am beginning to write my own lyrics. Im better
at doing that in English than Japanese. For now, I am still
trying to find my own style. She is also serious about
finishing her studies. When I am not at work, I study.
I just finished exams last week. My schedule can get really
hectic. Some days at the studio, as soon as I am done recording,
I take out my laptop and do assignments.
On the rare days when she doesnt have to work, Arashiro
likes soccer, hip-hop dancing, shopping, watching movies and,
last but not least, she is a big Harry Potter fan. Of
course, I got the sixth book last week, but Im still
on the 4th one. I have to catch up this summer.
NFL Tokyo 2005, Aug 6, Tokyo Dome.
See sports listings for details.
Its all in the beans
Next time youre at the Hilton hotel, drop by Rie Coffee
in the basement shopping arcade for some gourmet coffee or
a mango smoothie. You might even see Rie Kihara herself, if
shes not out and about selling coffee beans to various
restaurants, cafés, offices, embassies and organizations.
How did you get into the coffee business?
About 12 years ago, an American friend introduced me to flavored
coffee. I thought it was great and so did many of my Japanese
When did you form your company, Rie Coffee?
Eight years ago, but I opened this outlet here at the Hilton
four years ago. This is our only shop because I focus on selling
coffee beans to restaurants, cafés, offices, the American
Club, the ACCJ and so on.
What makes your coffee so good?
We use selected beans and carefully roast each one to bring
out its unique flavor. Then we add our own specially developed
flavors to give it a rich taste and aroma. We spend hours
tasting and evaluating each sample.
What else are you selling?
We are an official importer of the gourmet chocolate Ghirardelli.
How do you market yourself?
Im sometimes on the QVC 24-hour global shopping channel.
We advertise in food magazines. I sponsor some events, such
as church charity functions, seminars, etc.
Do you serve behind the counter?
Sometimes. I like to keep my hand in. I have a baristas
Do you check out your competition?
Of course. I like to see what they are offering, but I dont
really compete with them.
How many cups of coffee do you drink each day?
At least five, starting with three huge mugs in the morning.
You can order coffee beans, coffee services, gift items and
other products from Rie Kihara online at www.riecoffee.com
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