World No. 2 Naomi Osaka recently penned a an essay detailing her upbringing and deep-seated connection with Japanese culture. Osaka shed light on her interest in Japanese cuisine, manga, fashion and global music, and also how she deals with public attention in her home country.
The 23-year-old claimed she sometimes needs to sport a disguise when out on the streets in Japan, because she runs the risk of getting mobbed.
"It's a bit more difficult to go out publicly in Japan than it used to be," Naomi Osaka wrote. "So sometimes I disguise myself in a cap and wig."
Naomi Osaka further wrote that she credits her Japanese lineage and upbringing for the positive traits she has inculcated - such as discipline and cleanliness. Osaka also credited her mother, her American upbringing and her Haitian lineage (from her father’s side) for some of her other key qualities.
"I credit my Japanese side for my discipline, good manners, cleanliness and sense of style," Osaka added. "My mom's work ethic, working two jobs a day to support my tennis, has rubbed off on me too. My American side has allowed me to be more open-minded and progressive. And my Haitian side has given me the courage to push through when things get tough."
The four-time Grand Slam champion also revealed that she enjoys shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya - places in Japan famous for their vintage and quirky fashion. Naomi Osaka further claimed that her fashion sense is ‘heavily influenced’ by Japanese ateliers.
"Fashion is a huge passion of mine, and so I love shopping in places like Harajuku and Shibuya," Osaka said. "My own style is also heavily influenced by Japanese designers and fashion. I like to take risks when it comes to fashion and that is definitely inspired by Japan."
Naomi Osaka reveals why she never answers press conference questions in Japanese
Naomi Osaka seldom answers questions in Japanese during her press conferences - not even the ones asked in her native tongue. The tennis star revealed that she fears her words being misconstrued by the press, which is why she sticks to English.
"I actually sometimes speak Japanese with my sister, Mari, my physio Nana (physical trainer Natsuko Mogi) and my mom, but I'm apprehensive to speak in much detail in public," Osaka said. "I feel like people analyze every word I say so I am cautious not to be misinterpreted or taken out of context. That's why in my press conferences I listen to the questions in Japanese (which I understand) but answer in English."
Naomi Osaka went on to mention some of her favorite Japanese dishes, and revealed that many of her favorite restaurants are located in Japan. The 23-year-old also wrote that she enjoys taking part in karaoke, where she and her sister Mari Osaka belt out hits by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.
"I love the food and so many of my favorite restaurants in the world are in Japan," Osaka continued. "My favorite things to eat are sushi, katsudon (pork cutlets on rice), chirashidon (sushi in a bowl) and yakiniku (barbecued meat). Mari and I also like to sneak out for karaoke -- though we are not especially good singers! We sing Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Anaconda (the hit number by Minaj)."
Naomi Osaka also listed some of her favorite anime and manga.
"I enjoy watching a lot of TV and movies and reading manga in Japanese," Osaka wrote. "I liked anything shojo (girly) - 'Sailor Moon', 'Shugo Chara!', 'Full Moon wo Sagashite', 'Tokyo Mew Mew'."