Smells like Jeans Spirit.

It’s the dawn of autumn in Japan and with it comes the bright red foliage, chestnuts, and results of the annual jeans election that we’ve come to expect from the season.

Yes, when it comes anything from costumed mascots to peripheral Final Fantasy characters, Japanese people love to vote for stuff as a nation, that most people wouldn’t normally consider voting for. One of the biggest such elections, known as “Best Jeanist” drew 820,811 votes this year for the celebrity who looks best in denim.

▼ It’s so popular a My Hero Academia character was named after it

The Best Jeanist award was established in 1984 by the Japan Jeans Association to help raise awareness for jeans. It apparently worked too, as jeans are still as popular as ever and the annual election has united sponsors from both Japanese and international jeans producers such as Kaihara Denim, Momotaro Jeans, Levi’s, and Wrangler.

The general election is governed by three basic tenets: the nominee must be a high-profile person in arts, sports, or politics; they must look good in jeans; and they must embody the concept of Jeans Spirit.

Jeans Spirit is defined as: “Inexhaustible energy for pursuing grand dreams with a strong hope that never fails”, much like the durable longevity of a pair of loose-fits that only looks stronger and more vibrant after being assailed by acid and stones.

In addition to the general election, awards are also given out directly by the Japan Jeans Association to ensure the election doesn’t devolve into a popularity contest, and remains purely about the jeans.

▼ An emotional Kyoko Hasegawa and Tetsuo Degawa accept their Association awards last year

With all that in mind, let’s see who was crowned Best Jeanist 2020!

In the men’s category, Korean singer and actor Kim Jae-joong — affectionally known as “J-Jun” in Japan — handily took the top spot. His fans came out in full force and delivered the 34-year-old star 314,338 votes, eclipsing second-place Kaito Nakamura’s 87,473. Perhaps it was his rags-to-riches rise to fame on the streets of Seoul, resembling the rugged adaptability of a sturdy pair of bootcuts, that led to the overwhelming decision.

▼ Fans began posting their favorite pictures of Jae-joong in jeans after hearing the news

The women’s category was a relatively tighter race, but Japanese model and actress Anne Watanabe led the pack with 101,083 votes, ahead of second place Yuko Araki. Anne is the daughter of noted actor Ken Watanabe, and despite a scandal-laden divorce early this year, she has managed to weather the storms of 2020 with graceful resilience, much like the quiet dignity a pair of unfrayed straight-cuts have when hung out to dry.

This is the first general election win for both Best Jeanists and if they can score two more, they will be inducted as Lifetime Best Jeanists for their undying commitment to jeans. Current lifetime jeanists include former SMAP member Takuya Kimura, TV personality Rola, and singer Ayumi Hamasaki.

▼ Anne won an Association award in 2014 but still needs two more general election wins to become a lifetime jeanist

Unfortunately, due to ongoing coronavirus concerns, there will be no Best Jeanist ceremony this year, in which the winners usually appear on stage together in jeans. So, online comments from the Best Jeanist community expressed their bittersweet congratulations.

“I wanted to see Jae-joong and Anne together…”
“Considering the time it takes to coordinate such an event it’s understandable to cancel, but it still sucks.”
“Hopefully we can still see Anne wear jeans to celebrate.”
“I’m happy that Jae-joong and his fans’ wishes have finally come true.”
“Jae-joong looks great in jeans!”
“Congratulations on second place Umi-chan [Kaito Nakamura]!”

As with any election, not everyone was happy with the results, but it’s like Joseph de Maistre said, “Every nation gets the Best Jeanist it deserves.” So, if you want to help shape the annals of jeans history in Japan, it is imperative that you get out there and vote in the next election!

Source: Best-Jeanist, J-Cast News
Top image: PR Times
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