Translated by Mai Egawa
Japanese Beauty: Makanai Cosmetics In Kagurazaka
Written by MATCHA
Try out traditional, Japanese high-end cosmetics at Makanai Cosmetics in Kagurazaka, near Iidabashi Station in the greater Shinjuku area.
Kagurazaka is the area located within a 1km radius of Iidabashi Station on the Sobu line in Tokyo. Although located in Shinjuku, Kagurazaka resembles Gion in Kyoto, and is filled with little boutique shops and trendy spots that give it a modern yet mysterious air.
Today on our beauty quest, let's head to Makanai Kosume, a natural cosmetics shops found in this fascinating area.
Famous Shops Hidden in Kagurazaka
Head out of the B3 exit of Iidabashi Station and you will find yourself on the main street of Kagurazaka, Kagurazaka-dori. Along this road there are many beautiful restaurants, hidden away bars, sweets cafes, and many, many shops where you can pass the time.
Step into the alley, and you will find narrow streets everywhere.
This is called the Kakurenbo Yokocho (hidden alleyway) where the paving stone roads are filled with famous shops and, if you are lucky, you just might run into a geisha making her way from restaurant to restaurant as the Geishashin street is nearby.
What is Makanai Kosume?
The mascot of this store is the "makanai usagi" which is a rabbit making a sheet of gold leaf, instead of mochi cakes. Located on Karukozaka of Kagurazaka, this shop is a wonderful place to stop, try the products and purchase those that work best with your skin. The helpful staff here will be more than happy to explain their products in detail to interested customers.
The name "makanai" comes from the Japanese word meaning "a meal provided to staff rather than the customers". In traditional Japanese restaurants, it is common for the staff to share a meal made by the chef together - this meal typically is not something found on the shop's menu. Makanai cosmetics were originally invented by women who, while working in harsh conditions, created their own cosmetics in order to protect their skin.
Japanese Style Atmosphere
The atmosphere of this store is really simple and welcoming. Customers are allowed to touch each of the products and try them out before buying anything, so you need not worry about an item not meeting your expectations once you get it home.
Skin care, body care, hair care, bath goods, and more! There are plenty of unique products here as well.
For example, the Kori Konnyaku Sponge, which is made out of water and konnyaku jelly. When you first touch it, it has a firm, jelly-like softness, but when you give it a squeeze, water flows out of it easily. This sponge is perfect for scrubbing yourself from head to toe. It's great at removing old skin and dirt that might otherwise be clogging your pores.
Makanai Sweets: Oyatsu Bu
This store is the only place where you can buy healthy and beautiful Japanese sweets.
I recommend the "Elegant na Monaka" , which comes in green tea, black sesame, and black bean varieties. These are traditional Japanese flavors prepared in a French technique, which gives them a smoother, more moist texture than other monaka. These also make for excellent souvenirs too!
There is also a spot where you can take a short break in the cafe area of the shop as well.
Soothing Your Mind and Body: Natural, Made in Japan Cosmetics
If you would like to beautify your hands, why not try the nail clippers and oils sold here - they're all made in Japan. The oil-blotting sheets seen here are always helpful and have a surprise: when you use the sheet, a picture of a rabbit will appear!
Their bath powders are also quite amazing, and come in a variety of different scents. For example, the rice bran sachet may remind of the scent of a hot spring, while the citrus fruit one will help you to refresh. Better still, you can select your own bag when purchasing these powders.
The traditional home-like appearance and variety of delicious aromas that make up Makanai Cosmetics are just two of the charms of this natural cosmetics brand. If you are going to be visiting the Shinjuku area, make sure to head to Iidabashi and Makanai Cosmetics - you're sure to find the perfect product for you!
Makanai Kosume Kagurazaka
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku Kagurazaka 3-1
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30-20:00, Sun/Holidays 11:00-19:00
Nearest Station: Iidabashi Station
Access: 2 minute walk from Exit B3 of Iidabashi Station