Age is never an easy thing to guess just by looking at the screen. In the Japanese entertainment industry, there’s a certain group of people who might just surprise you with their real age. These are the actors and talents dubbed “baby-faced” by people—they’re known for looking younger than they really are no matter how much older than get. From popular idols to veteran actresses, the baby-faced trait is an endearing characteristic in these celebrities.
Singer and actress Shoko Aida radiates a youthful energy in her smile, which hasn’t changed since debut way back in the 80s. In the media she’s led the “bimajo boom”, a term that refers to middle-aged women who don’t look like they’ve aged as if because of magic. Popular among her own age group, many women want to know her secrets to staying young in appearance.
Birthdate: February 23, 1970 (age 48)
Hometown: Higashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan
With that round face and cheeky smile, you’d never guess Hiromi Nagasaku is just a few years shy of 50. It’s been almost three decades since her debut at 19 years old, but her face hasn’t changed all that much. Many fans praise her for still being cute even in her late forties, crediting it to her child-like face.
Birthdate: October 14, 1970 (age 47)
Hometown: Namegata, Ibaraki, Japan
Old school music fans might be familiar with 90s rock band Judy and Mary, famous for their song Sobakasu (among many others) which was the opening theme song for the anime Rurouni Kenshin. Yes, it’s been that long since vocalist YUKI has been active—and it doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since those wild days on stage. She still has that same sweet pucker that keeps that young, innocent air about her.
Birthdate: February 17, 1971 (age 46)
Hometown: Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
In May 2018 actress Yumi Adachi made waves on the Internet when she appeared on variety show Shabekuri 007, cosplaying outfits commonly worn by girls well below her age. The show’s hosts and viewers all over the country watched incredulously as the 36-year-old tried on an 18-year-old’s gyaru fashion, a 15-year-old’s sailor uniform, a 10-year-old’s school dress and finally—a kindergartener’s smock. It’s an astounding feat, considering she has two children of her own. The challenge was to taste her limits with her age, and many would agree that she was more than a worthy contender with that round baby face.
Birthdate: September 14 1981 (age 36)
Hometown: Taito, Tokyo, Japan
One of the most prolific actresses of her generation, Aoi Miyazaki has a face that many people would recognize in Japan. But it’s hard to tell how many can pin her exact age on the first guess. Miyazaki’s baby face is a characteristic trait that many people remember her for; you can hardly tell most of the time that she’s over 30 and married to boot. With that nymph-like youth in her features, it’s no surprise that Miyazaki could continue playing student roles well into her twenties.
Birthdate: November 30 1985 (age 32)
Hometown: Suginami, Tokyo, Japan
By the time Morning Musume legend Sayumi Michishige graduated from the group after a long decade she was surrounded completely by juniors years younger than her, a few of whom were almost half her age. Yet there was nothing odd about it; the beloved idol blended in effortlessly with her fellow members who were still in their teens. Now at 28, she’s made her comeback as a solo artist and has come back even cuter and fresher than ever. It’s hard to tell that this idol, famous for her confidence in being cute, is approaching 30. With her smooth fair skin and petite frame, she can certainly take on any young idol.
Birthdate: July 13 1989 (age 28)
Hometown: Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan
When Miori Ichikawa declared her ambition to be a fresh lemon back during her days as an AKB48 member, she wasn’t kidding. 8 years after joining the idol group, she’s finally graduated but is fresher than ever. Ichikawa’s doll-like face and small stature at just 148cm gives her an endearingly innocent appearance that both male and female fans have fallen in love with. With photo book releases and modelling activities, it’s proof that being baby-faced is a strength in itself.
Birthdate: February 12 1994
Hometown: Kukishi, Saitama, Japan
What makes a baby face? Round eyes with large pupils, face structures that round out at the bottom and soft puckered lips—there are many traits to make a person look young. Perhaps you might find a pattern after looking at all these popular celebrities who are known and admired for looking younger than their real age. What’s your type? Do you prefer the cherubic baby face, or a sleek mature look?
If you can’t get enough of the former, be sure to check out this group of adorably baby-faced gravure idols.
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