Kyoto cosmetics and beauty products are known around the globe. Besides their beautiful temples and culture, Kyoto is also said to be one of the top three cities in Japan with the most beautiful women in the country.
Kyoto Bijin, or Kyoto Beauty, is a type of look exemplified by an attention to detail and unblemished, untanned skin. How does one achieve this look? Let’s try to unmask the secret by examining the cosmetics loved and used by Kyoto ladies, who naturally have a heightened sense of beauty.
These meticulously prepared Kyoto-branded cosmetics have supported the entertainment district’s artisans, known as maiko and geiko, in their pursuit of beautiful skin - to great success! Here are some shops you can and should visit if you’re interested in replicating the Kyoto Bijin look at home as well.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Kazurasei: Achieve silky smooth skin with the power of Tsubaki Camellia
- 2. Kyonoyuki: Kyoto cosmetic made from 27 types of Japanese and Chinese plant essences
- 3. Yoja: Oil-blotting paper loved and used by Kyoto Bijin
- 4. Phiten: Kyoto beauty products shop that maiko and geiko regularly patronize!
- 5. Yoshitoyo: Perfume formulated with fragrant natural ingredients from Japanese flowers
1. Kazurasei: Achieve silky smooth skin with the power of Tsubaki Camellia
Kazurasei is an established shop that has been in business since 1865, and it focuses on small products that can be used on women’s hair.
A couple of their most well-known products are traditional wooden combs and the “Special Tsubaki Oil (1,900 yen, tax excluded)”. The oil is extracted from carefully selected tsubaki (camellia) fruit grown in Nagasaki and can be applied not just on the hair and scalp, but the entire body as well for its amazing moisturizing effects.
If you’re looking for a cosmetic product with ingredients that are gentle on the skin, try the “Tsubaki BB Cream (2,800 yen, tax excluded)”, which has more than 60% of beauty ingredients in its formula. It’s also sweat-resistant and covers the skin with a translucent sheen, giving it a silky smooth finish.
“Tsubaki Powder (4,600 yen, tax excluded)” has superfine particles that easily cover over your pores for even smoother skin. The abundance of beauty ingredients in this product means long-term use will make your skin more and more beautiful - perhaps even rivaling that of the famous entertainers of Kyoto!
- Address 285 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Shijo, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 605-0073
Access: 1-minute walk from Gion Bus Stop; 5-minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line; 8-minute walk from Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line
Kazurasei Gion Main Branch
- Phone Number 075-561-0672
Hours: 10:00am - 7:00pm
Closed: Wednesdays (open on public holidays, end of year and start of year holidays, and during the obon festival)
2. Kyonoyuki: Kyoto cosmetic made from 27 types of Japanese and Chinese plant essences
Pass through the red doors of the shop’s Kyoto townhouse building and you’ll see rows of plants adorning the wall facing you. This will be your first introduction to the Japanese and Chinese plants being used in Kyonoyuki’s cosmetics. The essence from 27 types of plants, which include safflower, Japanese basil, turmeric, and others are extracted from locally-grown Japanese and Chinese plants and used to create the beauty products here.
The “Recovery Gel Cream (5,800 yen, tax excluded)” comes in a 60 grams (or about 2.1 ounces) package and uses the essence of plants like Kyoto okra and nekoashi-kombu, a type of seaweed, in combination with moisturizing agents like pearls. The formula used in this all-in-one gel cream gives the skin simple care that nevertheless leaves it feeling rich and luscious.
The useful “Sakura Purse String Travel Set (1,800 yen, tax excluded)” contains a week’s portion of four basic skin care products in a conveniently-sized package, making it a traveler’s best beauty companion.
Those with sensitive skin can also use it as a sample pack before taking the plunge into the heftier sizes. This product is eligible for tax-free treatment when you purchase a total of 5,000 yen or more in this category. It also comes with pamphlets written in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and English so international visitors can purchase with confidence.
Kyoto Nijo Kyonoyuki京都二条 京乃雪
- Address 331 Lot 1, Nishidaikoku-cho, Aburanokoji East Entrance, Nijo, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 604-0063
Access: 3-minute walk from Nijojo-Mae Station on the subway; 3-minute walk from Nijojo-Mae Bus Stop
- Phone Number 075-256-7676
Hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm
3. Yoja: Oil-blotting paper loved and used by Kyoto Bijin
Yoja is a shop that initially started as stage makeup specialists for the various traditional performing arts that flourished in the ancient city of Kyoto.
The “Oil-Blotting Paper” that they introduced in the 1920s have received rave reviews from stage actors, film-related personnel, and ladies working in the entertainment districts. Word about its efficacy spread far and wide and before long, the paper became a flagship product of the shop.
This “Oil-Blotting Paper (20 pieces per pack, 360 yen, tax excluded)” absorbs excessive sebum secretions from the skin without also removing any makeup already applied, making it one of the Kyoto Bijin’s must-have items to bring around.
Not only is this functional Kyoto beauty product light and easy to carry, it’s also available at a very reasonable price. No wonder it’s so popular both in Japan and around the world!
The shop also sells a “Body Oil (2,980 yen, tax excluded)” that is made from a well-balanced formula of jojoba seed oil, almond oil, and argania spinosa kernel oil, giving it a strong penetrative effect that reaches deep into the skin. The oil is non-sticky and spreads out smoothly across the skin without much resistance, locking in moisture. Using this oil on your body will surely bring your own skin closer to the image of the Kyoto Bijin’s delicate and flawless-looking skin.
- Address 211 Lot 1, Kiyomizu 2-chome, Ohashihigashi 4-chome, Matsubara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 605-0862
Access: 8-minute walk from Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop
- Phone Number 075-744-1522
Hours: 9:45am - 6:00pm
Closed: Open daily
4. Phiten: Kyoto beauty products shop that maiko and geiko regularly patronize!
Phiten is generally more well-known for health goods that are tailored for athletes, but there’s been a recent surge in popularity for their “Kyo no Oshiroi Otoshi” product line.
Oshiroi refers to the distinct white facial makeup that the maiko and geiko of Kyoto are always seen with, and this skin care product line was created after taking in much feedback from these artisans.
The water from Phiten’s Aqua Gold technology will help your skin stay supple and healthy. "Kyo no Oshiroi Otoshi Face Wash (2,000 yen, tax excluded)" puffs out fluffy, light pink bubbles that gently make dirt and grime float up, thus removing them from your skin.
The pale red and thicker liquid from "Kyo no Oshiroi Otoshi Skin Toner (3,500 yen, tax excluded)" adheres to the skin quickly and comfortably, giving it a moist finish. These cosmetic products regularly used by the lady artisans of the entertainment district may be the secret to unlocking the beautiful skin you've always wanted.
When you're at the shop, let the staff know that you read an article about it on Live Japan!
Phiten Kyoto Karasumaファイテンショップ 京都烏丸店
- Address Lot 678 Yotsuya Gakuin Kyoto Bldg. 1F, Tearaimizu-cho, Karasumadori Nishikikojikado, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 604-8152
Access: 2-minute walk from Karasuma Station on the subway, Shijo Station on the Hankyu Line
- Phone Number 075-254-3580
Hours: Weekdays 11:00 a.m. -- 8:00 p.m.; Weekends 10:00 a.m. -- 8:00 p.m.
Closed: Third Wednesday of the month, end of year and start of year holidays
5. Yoshitoyo: Perfume formulated with fragrant natural ingredients from Japanese flowers
Yoshitoyo is a Kyoto goods souvenir shop that features classy and cute general goods, local craftwork, and a thorough lineup of Kyoto beauty products.
"Kotonoka" is an original brand of Kyoto cosmetics proudly made in Kyoto with great care and attention. They come in cute packages that feature Japanese-style patterns.
The cosmetics contain natural moisturizing agents that have supported the smooth and delicate skin of the Kyoto Bijin since ancient times, such as silk essence produced locally in Kyoto and ujicha essence.
"Kotonoka Perfume (1,000 yen, tax excluded)" is a fragrance that uses naturally-derived components such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and beeswax as its base. The light aroma it gives off is a mix of Japanese floral scents like sakura and osmanthus. Since the perfume has been made with ingredients that are gentle on the skin, it can also be used efficiently as a balm to protect the skin from dryness as well
Yoshitoyo Arashiyama Storeよしとよ 嵐山店
- Address Lot 10-1, 20 Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichicho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 616-8384
Access: 1-minute walk from Arashiyama Station on the Randen Line
- Phone Number 075-863-2110
Hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm
Closed: Open daily
Each brand of Kyoto cosmetics has their own special mix of ingredients and method of manufacturing, so what appeals to someone may not necessary appeal to another.
To find the cosmetic product that suits you best, some legwork is definitely required! As you go from shop to shop looking at what's on offer and testing the products out in-person, you'll be sure to find the cosmetic that will help you achieve that graceful and refined Kyoto Bijin look!
The beautiful packaging on Kyoto cosmetics is another thing about them that attracts visitors. They often portray the maiko of Kyoto or Japanese-style designs. Giving one of these products as a souvenir gift to someone back home is a sure formula to putting a smile on their face!
Text by: Word Inc. English translation by: Huimin Pan
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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