Trends in Japan > Fashion > Nail Boom Gathers Momentum
Nail Expo Attracts Fans in Their Thousands
(December 27, 2007)

Enjoying the Nail Expo. (C)Japan Nailist Association


An awards ceremony at the Expo. (C)Japan Nailist Association

More and more women these days are sporting beautifully manicured nails, from natural French nails to nail art that makes generous use of such accents as rhinestones and laminate coatings - and even nails so long that they make one wonder how the wearer manages to function in daily life. Artificial sculptured nails have been also been gaining in popularity. Despite costing around ¥10,000 ($90 at ¥110 to the dollar), a surprisingly large number of women frequent nail salons to decorate their nails with these lavish creations.

Nail Expo Pulls in the Crowds
In a reflection of the nail boom, nail salons are opening up all over Tokyo's downtown core, with districts like Shibuya, Omotesando, and Aoyama home to especially large numbers of outlets. Additionally, do-it-yourself nail kits that include tools for applying nail art are appearing on store shelves, as are specialty magazines offering the latest trends and tips for nails. The cosmetic nail market is growing: Currently, the Japanese market is estimated to be worth approximately ¥100 billion ($900 million) a year, with roughly 8,000 salons in operation and some 30,000 registered manicurists.


The first-prize winner in the 2nd World Nailist Championship. (C)Japan Nailist Association

One of the factors supporting this boom is a nail festival and exhibition sponsored by the Japan Nailist Association. Held annually since the establishment of the JNA in 1985 for the purpose of developing the nail industry, the nail expo has scaled up its program each year. To reflect its influence on the global nail market, the event was renamed the International Nail Expo in 1999. Boasting an increasing number of visitors, this year's two-day event welcomed a total of around 39,000 nail enthusiasts from around the country.

The main events included the World Nailist Championship, a competition among award-winning nail artists from Japan and abroad; the Naitiful Contest ("Naitiful" being a combination of the words nail and beautiful), in which participants demonstrated their skills in nail art, make-up, and dressing as if preparing for a fashion show; a ceremony to crown the expo's Nail Queen; a nail sculpture contest; and a mixed-media art competition. The program also included a trade show offering the latest information on trends in the nail and beauty world. Visitors enjoyed a variety of events taking place throughout the venue and were able to check out the latest in nail art goods and technology at the trial nail salon and the exhibition PR corner.


The winning entry in the mixed media art contest. (C)Japan Nailist Association

The Body as Fashion
A recent trend among young people is skin and body decoration in the form of hair bleaching, hair extensions, wigs, and other hair adornments; manicures, pedicures, and other nail treatments; and color contact lenses, fake eyelashes, tattoos, body piercing, and the like. People are no longer asserting their individuality just through clothing; the skin and body are also places to demonstrate one's flair for fashion.

Clothing was originally considered like a "second skin" to protect the body from the outside elements, but nowadays the skin itself has become a fashion canvas, turning into what might be termed "second clothing."

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