Hair Removal

For many years, the Japanese have utilized many different forms of hair removal treatments. While the cosmetics industry provides every possible cream, glaze, wax, bleach, razor, etc., aesthetic salons also capitalize on Japanese women’s desire to eliminate body hair. Aesthetic salons offer a variety of these treatments, seeking to eliminate almost all body hair possible using any number of methods. The proprietors of aesthetic salons often assert that shaving will result in thicker, darker coarser body hair. Two forms of electrolysis are among the most popular forms of hair removal, as well as what is known as “threading”, a technique by which hair is plucked out using a folded string.


Slimming treatments at Japanese aesthetic salons include cellophane body wraps, massages, the use of different creams and lotions, and of a variety of mechanical devices said to disintegrate or melt fat away from one’s body. One popular technology-based treatment involves what is called “Electrical Muscle Stimulation” (EMS), where the muscles of the body are stimulated via electrical nodes hooked up to a microcurrent-emitting machine.

Breast Modification

During the 1970s, often young, childish, innocent-looking women were more eroticized and there was much less emphasis on breasts as a primary marker of sexual attraction. As the culture has moved away from the “cute” aesthetic, the beauty industry in Japan has instead created a symbolic link between large, womanly chests and a sense of independence, self-assertion, and confidence. While aesthetic technicians do not perform breast augmentation surgeries, they provide other services that are meant to increase the size of the breast, even out the sizes of the breasts, or create different proportions of the chest area.

One example is the “Bust-up” treatment plans offered at many different aesthetic salons. The treatment typically includes massage, stimulation with suction cups attached to electrical equipment, and the use of various creams. While aesthetic salons are extremely popular and lucrative, they often toe the line between legitimate businesses and unregulated, fraud-ridden operations. Part of the difficulty with government regulation is that 40% of these salons are less than five years old, with old shops closing down quickly and new establishments being opened constantly.

In the year 2002, the Mainichi Daily News Interactive ran a story about some malpractice in Japanese aesthetic salons, including an account of hospitalization due to a botched electrolysis treatment and a lawsuit against a salon owner who was violating the Medical Practitioners’ Act by telling his staff members that anyone (regardless of lack of training) could operate laser equipment.

The report also cited an arrest of an unlicensed owner running a bogus shop out of the back of a restaurant, claiming to be able to utilize cosmic forces to remove customers’ moles, and bogus practices by another salon that advertised one price for hair removal then charged a customer much more money because they claimed her hair was thicker and coarser and required extra attention.


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