The belief that beautiful skin can help a person lead a wonderful life is no longer exclusive to women. Parasols, cosmetics and skin-lightening products are now popular with Japanese men as they aim to stand out at work and in love by obtaining beautiful skin.
Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, created a section that exclusively sells parasols for men at the end of April--three months ahead of the usual parasol season. Men's parasols are rarely sold this early in the year, but are selling well, according to the store. The parasol is resistant to ultraviolet radiation and prices start at about 4,000 yen (US$50). Solids, checks and striped patterns are popular. Men's parasols have enjoyed good sales over the years, with last year's sales jumping to five times that of 2008, when they were first introduced at department stores.
"They are bought by young businessmen in their 20s and 30s who spend a lot of time working outside the office, as they worry about sunburns," a Takashimaya employee in charge of the section said.
At Tobu department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, sales of men's parasols jumped 30 percent last year compared with those of 2008, and store staff believe sales will increase this year too.
Men's cosmetics are also popular. In February, Rohto Pharmaceutical Co. released the Oxy White Series skin lotion and serum. The products contain an ingredient that increases the skin's ability to absorb vitamin C.
Kobe-based apparel company World Co. in March released Cool UV Protect sunscreen, which offers strong protection from UV rays.
"Many men say they want to have smooth skin just like popular actors," a Rohto spokesperson said.
Hotel Niwa Tokyo in Chiyoda Ward introduced an aesthetic plan for men in 2010. Customers can receive face and body massages in a hotel room, with prices starting at 22,000 yen (US$277). The hotel said it regularly receives reservations from new customers, mainly salespeople, every month.
Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.'s head researcher Toshihiko Kataoka said, "The idea of 'manly' has changed over years, and more people today consider smooth, un-tanned skin as cool and smart.
"They may believe that having smooth skin is an advantage in love, job-hunting and business activities," Kataoka added.