19 January 2013

Beauty Destination - Kyoto

I use the term 'beauty destination' fairly loosely for Kyoto, because of course there are so many wonderful and beautiful sights to be seen that make-up shopping is probably not very high up most people's to-do list. However, not every visitor to Japan travels via Tokyo so I thought it might be useful to show what you can find in Kyoto. There are also a couple of Kyoto-exclusives that are worth a little look.

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In terms of general beauty shopping, Kyoto has a few department stores. There is a branch of Isetan in the station which stocks Helen Rubenstein, Anna Sui, RMK, Shu Uemura, Kanebo and more. It also has a little offshoot (Suvaco Isetan) which houses drugstore lines plus mid-range brands including MAC and L'Occitane. 

Downtown Kyoto is the most obvious place to head for department store shopping. Here you will find Takashimaya and Daimaru, which between them stock most major beauty lines. Note that, as far as I know, neither Addiction nor Suqqu are available in Kyoto. My other most favoured Japanese brand, THREE, has a small counter in Takashimaya. There is also a branch of OPAQUE in Downtown Kyoto which sells a selection of 'natural' beauty lines including Jurlique, John Masters Organics and Erbaviva. For drugstore products and other curiosities head to LOFT.

Kyoto's most famous beauty brand is Yojiya, which was founded in 1904 and is probably best-known for its blotting papers. There are a number of Yojiya stores dotted around Kyoto -- you can spot them by looking for the mirror/head logo. Other than at a couple of counters at Narita, Haneda and Kansai airports, Yojiya products are not available outside Kyoto.

The Yojiya website has a full list of the Kyoto store locations. There is one in Downtown Kyoto and a large store in Gion. There is also a pretty shop and garden just off the Philosopher's Walk en route to Ginkaku-ji (for me the most beautiful of Kyoto's temples).

As well as the blotting papers, Yojiya also produces a number of skincare products plus some colour cosmetics and brushes. I only saw the make-up and brushes on sale in the Gion store. I was most interested in the lip creams, but skipped them as they seemed too sticky to double up as cream blushers. See Messy Wands for reviews of a Yojiya lipstick and cheek brush.

Also just off the Philosopher's Walk is Chidoriya, which sells a range of natural/organic Japanese beauty products and accessories. Chidoriya products are carried by a number of stores in Tokyo and the US, but the only free-standing store is in Kyoto. There is also a little salon next to the shop. I had to work quite hard not to buy everything in this shop. I managed to limit myself to the Nail Treatment Oil, which is lovely (if very expensive). Interestingly for a brand which markets itself as selling Japanese products, an awful lot of them are made in the USA (including the nail oil).

Make-up aside, this post is really just an excuse for me to spam you with some photos from my most recent trip to Kyoto. I went in November at the height of koyo season -- it was gloriously beautiful (if very crowded). 
Clockwise from top left: koyo at Kinkaku-ji, Kinkaku-ji, more koyo, gardens at Ginkaku-ji (I love seeing propped-up trees), Ginkaku-ji.
Clockwise from top left: lots of temples have a little spot for a cup of matcha and a sweet, Gion, Kinkaku-ji koyo, gardens at Ginkaku-ji.
Have you visited Kyoto? Is there anywhere you think I should add to my list? Let me know!