Japan's traditional art form Kabuki has very impactful makeup we're sure you agree. In this article, we're going to be taking a look at kabuki makeup as well as the techniques and tools used. We're even going to introduce a location where you can try some kabuki makeup on yourself!

Makeup Brush & Colored Powders

There are 3 main components to kabuki makeup, "oshiroi", "tonoko", and "beni". 

The tools used when applying kabuki makeup are the brush which applies the oshiroi (face powder), the Botan bake (powder brush), a sponge, paintbrush, benizara, and a palette with charcoal and red dye in it.

Botan Bake

This brush has a small rounded handle and then fur coming out of it. You use this brush to pat your face and cover it in oshiroi and tonoko.

Tonoko

There is "chatonoko", "kitonoko", and more.

Beni

You have "abura beni" and "Mizu beni", the abura beni is used when hiding bags under the eyes, and the Mizu beni is used when shading off female characters' faces as well as when pronouncing the outer corners of the eyes with red paint.

The red paint used for shading is originally a solid and is crushed and mashed until it turns into a paste before being mixed with pomade and camellia oil. This process must be done well, otherwise, the paste will not spread well and you will be unable to shade properly.

Paintbrush

For more detailed and strong applications of the red dye and eyebrows, a paintbrush is used. A fine-point Chinese ink brush is used when placing the "Mehari" into the Mizu beni. 

When hiding the bags under your eyes, you first paint on the areas required, then blur it with your fingers. There are some kabuki actors who prefer doing the entire thing with their fingers alone instead of a brush. This is because even though it may seem beautiful when you paint it on, once you reach the stage, sometimes it doesn't seem all that good when compared to a more imperfect version.

Kabuki Makeup Styles

  1. To ensure the oshiroi and tonoko stick well to the face, it's important to place pomade all over your face and neck.
  2. You can then use the brush to apply both the oshiroi and tonoko.
  3. Then, above that, you can draw your features such as shadows, eyebrows, eye makeup, lipstick, blush, and mustache.

Places to Try Kabuki Makeup in Japan

There are many places around Tokyo within which you can try out some outfits from kabuki or kabuki makeup for yourself. If you're visiting Japan and have an interest in this art form, make sure to set aside some time in your schedule to visit. Here are some locations around both Tokyo and Osaka.

Tokyo

YANESEN Tourist Information & Culture Center

  • Name: YANESEN Tourist Information & Culture Center
  • Access:4-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Sendagi Station, a 7-minute walk from JR Nippori Station
  • Address:3 Chome-13-7 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
  • Business Hours:10:00〜18:00
  • Fee: Consultation Required (Estimate made based on wishes), up to 4 people. The fee includes costume rental fee, makeup fee, and photographs (sent at a later date).
  • https://www.ti-yanesen.jp/

Kabuki Kitaro

  • Name:Kabuki Kitaro
  • Access:3-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo-Metro Hanzomon Line Mitsukoshimae Sta., a 1-minute walk from Shin-Nihombashi Station
  • Address: Nihonbashihoncho 4-1-13, Sleepy Nihonbashi Building 7F, 1, Chuo City, Tokyo 103-0023
  • Business Hours:10:00〜17:00 (Closed on Sun/Holidays)
  • Fee:要確認
  • http://kabukitaro.jp/

Cocomo Tokyo

  • Name: Cocomo Tokyo
  • Access:2-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Exit 1, a 2-minute walk from Tsukuba Express A1 Exit
  • Address:〒111-0032 Tokyo, Taito City, Asakusa, 1 Chome−29−8 2F
  • Business Hours:10:00〜20:00 Irregular Holidays
  • Fee: JPY 2280〜
  • https://www.cocomo.tokyo/en/

Mitsuyoshi Makeup Research Facility

  • Name: Mitsuyoshi Makeup Research Facility
  • Access:12-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Korakuen Sta., 10-minute walk from Toei Subway-Mita Line Kasuga Station
  • Address:3F 3-chōme-31-11 Koishikawa, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0002
  • Business Hours: 9:00~17:00(Closed on Sat/Sun/Holidays)
  • Fee:60 Min / JPY 3300〜(Reservations Required)
  • http://www.mitsuyoshi-make.com/makeup_lab/


Osaka

Deep Experience - Kabuki Makeup, Out on the Town!

  • Name: Deep Experience - Kabuki Makeup, Out on the Town!
  • Business Hours:9:00〜 (3 Hours Required), Available Every Day, Number of People 2〜4
  • Gathering Location:Harinakano Station FamilyMart
  • Fee:JPY 16000〜、(Guide Fee, Kabuki Makeup Souvenir, Takoyaki, Bathhouse Fee)
  • https://www.deep-exp.com/en/osaka

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