Teen of Japan (ティーン・オブ・ジャパン,Teen of Japan), better known as TOJ, is a competition that takes place every three years. Students from Eitoku Academy and Eirin Academy are selected to compete for the one million yen prize. The contest is notorious for its unpredictable outcomes, due to the ever-changing events.
Teen of Japan is a competition between the rival schools, Eitoku Academy and Eirin Academy. Every three years on December 24, the schools select three female students from each year to determine Japan's "top female high school student." One million yen is the standard prize for the winner. The competition tests beauty, intelligence, and the skills required for marriage and motherhood. Due to the events changing every time, Teen of Japan has become known for its unpredictable outcomes. The "good wife and wise mother" is considered particularly "treacherous" causing many contestants to struggle.
"Most of these girls from rich families had never eaten okonomiyaki, much less cooked it. Luckily, I wasn't like them. Of course, I'd never eaten it either. But I learned for my little brother. That year, I was the only one who could make an okonomiyaki. And so I won."
—Tsubaki describes the unpredictable nature of the contest[src]
Six years prior,Tsubaki Domyoji entered TOJ representing Eitoku Academy. In the first round, the girls were judged on how they wore clothes selected from a Paris collection. For the intelligence portion, they were required to answer questions in a quiz show-type setting. That particular year, the girls were of a high level and three were taken to the final round, including Tsubaki. In the last portion of the competition, they had the girls cook okonomiyaki, a common Japanese dish. The rich girls were unfamiliar with it, besides Tsubaki whom he learned to cook it for her brother. She was the only one able to successfully make it and thus won the entire competition.
Three years later, Shizuka Todo represented Eitoku and won. Shizuka later won a similar contest, "Miss Teen of France" (ミス・ティーン・オブ・フランス,"Miss Teen of France"), during her time in Paris.
"Teen of Japan, the contest held every three years to select Japan's top female high school student, will be starting in a few minutes. The winner will receive not only a cash prize of one million yen and a bronze statuette, but also a round-the-world trip!"
Another three years later, Tsukasa Domyoji decided to enter Tsukushi Makino into the contest, after her home was shown on the news. Thinking that she was "too poor" for him, he wanted to present her in a better light. He signed and sent in a recommendation letter without informing her. Tsukushi later asked Tsukasa for a loan of one million yen, after her father had borrowed that exact amount from a loanshark and then lost it. Tsukasa agreed, but required her to enter the Teen of Japan contest. He told her she could pay him back with the prize money. Tsukasa's sister, Tsubaki agreed to help train Tsukushi. She provided her with all the necessary instructors in etiquette, English, cooking, flower arranging, and tea ceremony. An esthetician and hair stylist were also provided.
Tsukushi trained for several hours a day for two weeks, before the contest began on Christmas Eve. She competed alongside Eitoku classmates, Sakurako Sanjo and Junko Ekuni, and Eirin Academy students, Ayano Kurimaki, Sonoko Maekawa, and Kazuko Kubo. There were five judges, including Jody Grand and Arthur Smith. For the beauty portion, the girls were tasked with expressing their individuality through fashion. Mr. Smith felt all of the girls were dressed "too conventionally," except for Tsukushi whom he praised. Junko and Kazuko were eliminated. In the second round, their English was tested by Mrs. Grand. Sonoko was disqualified for dropping a teacup. Mrs. Grand nearly passed out in the middle of Tsukushi's turn. She passed Ayano and Tsukushi to the next round, eliminating Sakurako.
After a fifteen minute break, the two finalists returned to the stage. Some of the crowd became unruly as many questioned how Tsukushi had made it this far. Tsukasa managed to quiet the unrest by punching a particularly loud audience member. In the third and final round, a group of twenty-one children were brought on stage. Tsukushi and Ayano were taken to another room with the children, whom they had to play with to determine the winner. The two ended up playing with the children together by the end. The children asked to pick whom they liked the best. Ryusuke Hayama refused to pick as he felt it was unfair. The judges decided to pick based on overall score, which lead to Ayano being crowned the winner. They granted a special prize to Tsukushi of 300,000 yen "in recognition of her heroic efforts."
The TOJ contest appears in two episodes of Hana Yori Dango (2005). In the drama, Kaede Domyoji was the first winner of contest and won her husband's love through it. Tsukasa and Tsubaki suggest that Tsukushi enters the competition, after their mother puts her family and friends in financial danger. Tsukushi does so with Tsubaki's recommendation. Ayano Kurimaki, Tsukasa's fiancée, also enters with Kaede's recommendation. The 2005 TOJ in the drama has four rounds, while the manga only has three. Except for the first round, the rest of the contest follows the original closely. Unlike the manga, the drama version has about thirty contestants from atleast four schools.
Teen of Japan is replaced with "Chinese Cuisine Culinary Competition" in Meteor Garden (2018). The competition is also held every three years. Dao Ming Zhuang (Tsubaki) won the contest years earlier and later helps Dong Shan Cai (Tsukushi) train for it. Shan Cai competes in the sixth edition of it, which consists of three rounds. Zhou Cai Na (Ayano) wins the top prize of 1 million yuan. Shan Cai is a given a special prize of 500,000 yuan "for her persistent and outstanding performance."
In Hana Yori Dango (2019), Teen of Japan plays an important part of the musical's second act. Its portrayal follows the manga closely with a few differences. One being that the contestants are chosen through a nationwide selection process, which removes the Eitoku-Eirin rivalry. Additionally, only the first and last rounds from the manga are portrayed.