Even though I’ve been to Kyoto dozens of times, there is always a sense of wonder and freshness. It’s even more magical when we have the chance to introduce new friends to the secret spots that inspire us each and every day. Many months ago we had the pleasure of taking Erin Flaherty, the beauty and health director of Marie Claire, to join us for a day of adventure in Kyoto.
Of the many pieces that have appeared about us in print and online over the years, this one will always be extra special to us because Erin was the first writer to come and learn about the “old world” inspirations at the heart of our skin care ritual.
Here is an excerpt from Erin’s article, which appears in the October issue of Marie Claire.
MODERN DAY GEISHA
The most enduring symbol of Japanese beauty is the famed geisha, but there are only an estimated 200 real geikos (as they are locally known) in Japan today. They are considered artists of the highest order, and their services – which include dancing, conversing, and playing traditional drinking games with clients – are primarily available to nobility, celebs and high-ranking businessmen.
Luckily I have an in: Nami Onodera, the cultural adviser for TATCHA, a beauty brand inspired by centuries-old geisha beauty secrets. Onodera graciously agrees to introduce me to the TATCHA muse, Kyoka-san, whom I meet in her home in Gion, a Kyoto district known as the playground for these insanely glamorous women. She is breathtakingly beautiful, so I beg her to reveal her regimen.
Those elaborate hairstyles? As a geisha in training (called a maiko), she had to sleep with her head elevated on a post so as not to disturb the ‘do. Talk about suffering for beauty. Now, as a graduated geisha, she can afford infinitely more convenient wigs. After exfoliating with TATCHA’s rice enzyme powder, she applies a wax-like primer, then paints on the ubiquitous white face, which is rooted in Kabuki theater. She then uses both red and black pigments on her eyes and lips, and rocks the dramatic look all evening with occasional touch-ups from products kept discreetly in her voluminous kimono sleeves.
Charming and graceful, much like the cherry blossoms Kyoto is known for, Kyoka-san is a stunning national treasure. I may never be able to replicate such beauty, but at least I can steal home with some rice bran.”