Japan's top model "Ebi-chan" eyes global catwalk

Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:42am EDT
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By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Top Japanese model Yuri Ebihara has made her mark in Asia but now she wants to take her place on the global catwalk alongside the world's supermodels.

The 29-year-old has decided she is too sexy for Japan and wants to share the red carpet with the international jet set in Paris, New York and Milan.

"I've done Japan," Ebihara told Reuters in an interview, immediately gasping and covering her face in embarrassment. "I just mean I want to work with the top people in the world."

Ebihara, popularly known in Japan as "Ebi-chan" ('baby shrimp'), reigns supreme as her country's hottest magazine and TV model, with her enormous selling power in Japan and Asia used on everything from cosmetics to fast food chains.

"Until now it was fine being in the 'pretty-cutesy' brigade and being a hit. I've experienced that whole boom," she said before a fashion show in Tokyo.

"Now I want to break out and try the biggest challenge out there. It's a world I haven't dipped my toe into yet so I would like to see where it takes me ... I'm 30 this year so maybe it's time to go international."

In Japan Ebihara has become a powerful brand. When McDonalds used her fluttering eyelashes to promote its 'ebi-burger' in 2005, a staggering 10 million of the shrimp meals were sold within a four-week period.

"When we were shooting those commercials I was allowed to spit the burgers out if I ate too many," she laughed. "I've eaten fast food since I was a kid though and still do sometimes."   Continued...

<p>Top Japanese model Yuri Ebihara is reflected on a mirror as she poses backstage at a fashion show in Tokyo July 26, 2009. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>