Among the sea of models walking the runway at shows for global brands, Yuka Mannami has a unique resume: She quit her job as a nurse to work in the fashion world.
As her most charming feature, the 175-centimeter-tall model has long, straight black hair with bangs cut straight across her forehead a bit above her eyebrows. The Mie Prefecture native, now 26, graduated from a university in Osaka before beginning her career as a nurse.
In the profession, Mannami saw life and death unfold before her eyes. It made her think: "You only get one shot at life, so I should try being a model."
During her school days, Mannami once served as a model for an acquaintance who was a photographer. She was told she had a great presence, and she can still remember the fun she had having her photo taken.
Moreover, Mannami also took ballet lessons and loved performing in front of others.
As soon as Mannami got into a modeling agency in Tokyo in July 2015, she was given the opportunity to take part in a show the luxury Italian brand Fendi held in the capital.
"I'd never received training on how to properly walk down a runway," she said. "So I took videos of myself walking to refine the skill."
Since then, the model has taken part in shows in Milan and during Paris Fashion Week, enjoying a meteoric rise to stardom that has put her squarely in the spotlight.
The global fashion world is so cutthroat that sometimes Mannami is not booked for a show until the day before.
People from the East and West have different definitions of beauty, Mannami said.
"Westerners love the exotic look of having narrow, almond-shaped eyes, but I have double eyelids," she said. "Honestly speaking, I didn't have the confidence to stand on the grand world stage."
However, as she met models from other countries and got to know them more, Mannami said she realised "everyone has their own charms." This realisation has helped her set clear goals in her new profession, such as appearing in international magazines.
Mannami started her life in New York early this year to better respond to sudden bookings, and appeared in the magazine Vogue this past spring.
The words "cool beauty" seem to fit her to a T, but she beamed while responding to questions during our interview, for which she wore secondhand clothing because she loves "vintage clothes that are simple and have flavor, maybe because I was raised in the countryside."
In a society as harsh as the one we live in today, having such a pleasant personality is undoubtedly her biggest asset.
As Mannami has experience playing a "backstage" role during her days as a nurse, she knows a team can produce something good if all members concerned can build a comfortable environment working together.
"I want to never forget to take on challenges while holding on to my cheerful demeanour," Mannami said.