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July 9, 2022

Akiko Kojima: The First Japanese and Asian Woman to Win Miss Universe

Born 1936 in Tokyo, Japanese model and beauty queen Akiko Kojima bested four other finalists from Norway, the US, England, and Brazil for the 1959 Miss Universe crown in Long Beach, California. At 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m), Akiko measured 37–23–38 inches (94–58.4–96.5 cm). She denied press reports on having undergone breast surgery. A year later in 1960, Akiko crowned her successor, Miss Universe 1960, Linda Bement from the United States.

Akiko Kojima as a model in 1965

In 1966, Kojima was married to Japanese actor Akira Takarada, who rose to fame in the Toho movie studios doing the Godzilla movies since 1954. Kojima settled into a quiet married life. They later had a daughter, Michiru Kojima, in 1967. They divorced in 1984 and Kojima left with their daughter.

Forty eight years later after her reign, another Japanese national, Riyo Mori, won the Miss Universe pageant in 2007. Take a look at these stunning photos to see the beauty of young Akiko Kojima as a model in the 1960s.

Model Akiko Kojima on the black sandy beaches in Hawaii wearing large amber sunglasses, photo by Hiro, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in a black bikini worn under a black cotton poplin trenchcoat by Catalina, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in an elongated turtleneck in navy blue ribbed knit with tiny buttons to be seen open or closed by Koret, Sea-and-Ski slit level sunglasses, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in brilliantly flowered burnoose in crinkly chiffon falling free from a drawstring at the throat with more than 200 tiny buttons from top to hem by Sarff-Zumpano, sandals by Bernardo, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, June 1965

Akiko in brown and white cotton sailcloth shift by Sport Trio, bouncy rubber clogs by bernardo, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in hand-crocheted linen dress the color of sand by Constance Montague, photo by Hiro, Harper's Bazaar, June 1965

Akiko in navy jersey with criss-cross straps and long white cotton duck culottes by Sloat, sandals by Bernardo, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in olive-green swimsuit with a high-cut front and oval cut-out back by Jantzen, photo by Hiro on Kapukauluau Beach, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in spun rayon black dress hung from tiny straps and splashed with single enormous red flower in front and huge yellow flower adorns the back by Tiffeau & Busch, photo by Hiro, Harper's Bazaar, June 1965

Akiko in sun-bright overblouse and skirt with floating disks of yellow, blue and orange on white mousseline de soie by Mollie Parnis, sandals by Bernardo, photo by Hiro by the bay near Hanalei, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in swimsuit with deep fishnet neckline by Cole of California, photo by Hiro in Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in tent striped silk-chiffon dress by Junior Sophisticates, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harpers Bazaar, June 1965

Akiko in the wildest black-and-white print poncho in cotton poplin by Dorian, outsized turban by Adolfo, sandals by Bernardo, photo by Hiro, Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko, photo by Hiro in Hawaii, Harper's Bazaar, May 1965

Akiko in fashion by Rudi Gernreich, photo by Hiro, Harper's Bazaar, January 1966




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