It doesn’t matter if you casually browse for #nailart on Instagram, or stock up on piles of magazines and books each month – who doesn’t love Japanese nail art?
But for all the pointy, gem encrusted, ice cream-coloured nails worthy of J-Pop giants Ayumi Hamasaki and Koda Kumi, those kawaii designs are hardly wearable.
Cue Disco Nail, one of the hottest nail salons found in the chic district of Shibuya, frequented by Tokyo’s creative, cool-girl crowd.
All images from Disco Nail owner Nagisa Kaneko’s Instagram account.
Glittery nails on Japanese singer-songwriter Beni and Fuyuri Kobayashi of vintage boutique Sister.
Many of the designs, by owner Nagisa Kaneko (or Nagi, for short), are nothing like what you’d expect of typical Japanese gel nail art – they are all done on short nails. So you don’t have to worry about cumbersome extensions that come in the way of the most basic tasks, like untying a packet of kopi – those are the worst, we know.
With an interest in all things vintage, surreal and sometimes goth, her designs usually feature marble textures, crosses, gory motifs such as bloodshot eyes and bony fingers, and sometimes even cartoons, with a chic new look on a bare base, of course.
Style blogger Susie Lau’s nails were inspired by the Prada Spring/Summer 2014 collection.
Disco Nail is big on negative space nail art. Some of them include drawings of facial features, inanimate items like fences and road pavements, as well as 3D-looking eggs.
But prepare to pay a considerable sum, since it is after all, gel nails in Japan.
The charges go by the amount of time spent on your nails, rather than the usual, price per-design-per-fingernail. So you’re free to ask for as many intricate designs as you want, even on all 10 fingers. The price starts from JPY9720 for an hour to JPY16,200 for one and a half hours (about SG$110 to SG$180).
Nagi (right) and fellow nail artist Kana (left).
On the two occasions that I visited the salon, I left the design of my nails up to Nagi, and at another time, a fellow nail artist Kana. Both were quick and calculated in action, going through layers and layers of skillful painting and artfully placed embellishments. These stickers, and sometimes small beads, are sealed and secured firmly with a good gel coating, at the end of the entire process.
These nails have lasted me longer than three weeks, but I’d advise to have them soaked off at your regular nail salon, as they are thicker than the usual gelish manicure.
Nagi branched into designing her own line of jewellery, called Maiden. These are available at her nail salon, as well as Opening Ceremony in Tokyo.
If you’re looking to book an appointment during your next trip to Japan, do it at least two weeks in advance by filling in a contact form on the site. It’s Google Translate-friendly and will be the only language hurdle you need to cross, since Nagi speaks English.
In the meantime, check out all the #disconail posts on Instagram – you’ll need half a day to get through them!
Disco Nail is located on the third floor at 1-14-9, Jinnan Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. For easy reference, the store is a short walk from Shibuya Parco, which is diagonally opposite.
Love nail art? Ask your manicurist for one of these trendy nude nail designs, perfect for the office!
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