Singapore siblings to take on Amazing Race Asia
For the first time, a brother-sister team will be representing Singapore in the upcoming fifth season of reality TV series The Amazing Race Asia.
Previous local pairings have comprised only friends of the same gender.
And it looks like Rei Umehara, 30, and her younger brother Keiji Umehara, 26, are going to provide much of the entertainment value on the show as your typical squabbling siblings, judging from how they were jokingly bickering with each other during a joint 15-minute phone interview with The New Paper on Thursday (July 28).
Rei manages a human resources consultancy firm with her husband, while Keiji used to work for local travel and lifestyle website The Smart Local as a content creator for eight months.
He left in February to travel the world and work on his YouTube channel UMeAndHara.
Their father is Japanese and mother Singaporean-Chinese and they were born and raised in Singapore.
Aside from the Umeharas, the other Singapore team in The Amazing Race Asia 5 consists of Power 98 radio DJs Jerald Justin Ko and Michael Tan.
Filming for the show - which is slated to premiere in October on AXN - will begin in two weeks and is expected to last for a month.
Rei said: “We both heard of the auditions when it was first broadcast. We are a very close-knit family, so our first choice for a partner would be a family member.”
However, the siblings did not always get along when they were younger - Rei even remembered violently throwing a ceramic door stopper at Keiji because he was “irritating”.
She said: “When I was a hormone-filled teenager, I couldn’t take it. I was so angry and our parents weren’t home. The only thing in front of me was (that)... I didn’t want to throw it on his head, I was aiming somewhere else, but it hit his head instead and he was bleeding profusely.
“But after that incident, we made up and I think we both grew closer because (that) gave me the fright of my life.”
Even though Rei moved out of the family home two years ago after she got married, she will now have to co-exist with Keiji 24/7 during the shoot.
She said with a laugh: “I have lived with him for 20-over years and I’ve already tolerated him (during that time). I think I can tolerate him for one month - that wouldn’t be a problem.”
They are complete opposites of each other, according to Rei.
Keiji is more “chill and relaxed”, while Rei is more “detail-oriented and careful”.
When asked who will wear the pants, Keiji immediately said: “My sister. Because being her brother for many years, it’s better to just agree with what she says and there won’t be any fights - so simple.
“She will be the leader and I will enjoy the ride.
“I also kind of had no choice but to pick her, as she’s the only one who can drive in our family of five (parents and older brother).”
Rei giggled and replied: “Smart boy.”
Despite being half-Japanese, neither of them are able to speak the language, as they studied Chinese as their second language in Singapore.
Rei joked: “Oh no, don’t ask us this question. It’s such a disgrace. The only Japanese thing about us is our name.”
Keiji added: “We have family in Japan, so we do travel there a lot, at least more than 20 times. (If the race does take us there) I think it would be beneficial as we do know our way around.”
For him in particular, The Amazing Race Asia 5 will also be a good opportunity for him to gain exposure and boost his popularity on his YouTube channel.
He said: “Putting my face out there on international TV is quite a big thing and so far, I’ve only put my face on the Internet, so I wouldn’t deny (the fact) that it will definitely progress my career.”