From The Straits Times    |

The Sakura has been a symbol of Japanese beauty for a long time, just like as the rose represents beauty in the West.

Here, we take you on a beauty journey around the world to discover five destinations in a new light – how they are iconic for beauty and to discover their award-winning beauty products.

Read on to find out more about Japan. 

Famous For: Sushi, Sake, Sakura (cherry blossoms), Mount Fuji, Animation, Cosplay and Electronics

Photo: 123rf

From the bustling streets and lights of Tokyo to the Kawaii theme parks of Tokyo Disney and Sanrio Land, along with the peace and serenity of its many shrines and temples, there is something for everyone in the Land of the Rising Sun.

While Niseko — the most popular ski town located in Hokkaido in the northern part of Japan, might be the go-to for avid skiers and snowboarders thanks to its powder snow slopes, you might want to avoid the crowds on your next trip. After all, it’s been recorded that at least 143,000 tourists have visited Niseko during the 2018 winter season. For serious powder-seekers, try heading south to Geto in the Iwate Prefecture, Urabandai in the Fukushima Prefecture, Yuzawa in the Akita Prefecture and Myoko in the Niigata Prefecture. The quality of snow is still great, just minus the crowds.

Photo: 123rf

Or do as the Japanese do, and visit an onsen bath to refresh and rejuvenate the senses. And as Japan is situated in a volcanic zone on the Ring of Fire, there are many hot spring or onsen towns across Japan that you can visit, with the most famous ones being Kusatsu in the Gunma Prefecture, Hakone in the Kanagawa Prefecture (this is just an hour out of Tokyo, making it easy to get to even as a day trip) and Yufuin in the Oita Prefecture. These hot springs are a rich source of sulfur and boasts healing properties that is said to be able to ease muscular aches, fatigue and stress. It’s even known to soothe skin woes like rashes and eczema as well as help keep skin healthy and beautiful.

Beauty Standards

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The Japanese take beauty very seriously, and this includes everything from research & development, technology and safety standards. What sets J-beauty brands ahead of the pack is their dedication to continued investment in technology and research & development to ensure the best efficacy of their products, even if it means countless of trials and years to achieve their goal. Not to mention the focus on continually improving product formulations to produce even greater results.

And as a country that is deeply rooted in culture and traditions, great attention to detail is not spared when it comes to showcasing the finesse of Japanese quality. Makeup brushes are often inspired by the art of making traditional Japanese crafts while product packaging channels beautiful Japanese lacquerware.

While a diligent skincare routine is important for a healthy complexion, eating right is just as important to achieve a healthy you, from the inside-out. The traditional Japanese diet consists of fresh and unprocessed foods. It is high in grains and vegetables while including moderate amounts of animal products and soy and minimal dairy and fruit, which contribute to the country’s people having a low obesity rate and long life expectancy. In fact, Okinawa, located South of mainland Japan, is known to have the highest number of centenarians in the world.

It is also no secret that Japanese women are religious when it comes to their skincare routines as it J-beauty focuses on restoring your skin to its optimal condition. That said, the biggest focus of Japanese skincare is centred on the achievement and maintenance of a fair and radiant complexion.

To the Japanese, fairness is associated with purity, and many J-beauty brands have this in mind with each skincare product launched, from brightening creams, lotions and serums. To help you achieve this fair and glowing complexion, many Japanese brightening products often use ingredients such as Pearl Powders, Rice, Sake (yes, the alcoholic drink) and its by-product Koji Acid, and Arbutin derived from Bearberry, Pear or Cranberry. But none of these ingredients are as iconic as the use of Sakura (cherry blossom). This hardworking active ingredient is rich in antioxidants and is used to soothe, hydrate, brighten and repair the skin. The Sakura extract also has anti-glycation properties that boosts collagen production within for a youthful complexion too.

Even though skincare is top priority in Japan, innovative (though some might say it’s more wacky than useful) beauty tools also play an important role in a Japanese women’s beauty routine. From beauty rollers that de-puff, lift and firm to the weird yet wonderful face bra (first seen on the television show Ally McBeal) that sculpts the face and tools that promise a sharper nose bridge or a face slimming device to achieve a petite pout.

Cuteness, also known as Kawaii, is also something synonymous with everything in Japan, and beauty trends, of course, is not spared from this. In addition, age does not matter when it comes to partaking of everything adorable and cute. And this is easily seen through Japanese makeup trends such as the application of false lashes to create a doe-eyed look or the placement of blusher high on the cheeks to illustrate youth and vitality.

Did You Know…?

Every J-beauty skincare routine includes a Softener. Not quite a Toner (as we might be used to with American and European brands), a Softener is applied after cleansing and is used to replenish the skin with moisture, strengthening its natural moisture barrier while prepping the skin to receive all the goodness of the other skincare products that follow at the same time.

Popular and award-winning beauty products from Japan:

These winning and signature products are available at Takashimaya Beauty Hall, or check out Takashimaya’s Beauty Escapade event here.