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Headline

The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

Serch Form
Latest Issue
About Us

CONNECT WITH US

  • Instagram
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Kawaii Culture: Trending Japanese Nail Art

The new age of Harajuku fashion

By Kim Kahan

With the likes of Mei Kawajiri (NailsbyMei) and Miho Okawara (Mihonails) spreading Japanese nail art far and wide, we decided to take a look at the artists championing it nearer to home. Undeniably, Japan has a certain aesthetic historically we’re talking about the Harajuku fashion which made the area so famous globally.

In the past couple of years, Japanese nail artists have become known for their 3D nail art, which can be used to create various effects.

While the Harajuku style from the 1990s and 2000s may have evolved, there is a definitively ‘kawaii’ aspect to each of the nail artists below. From cute kawaii to scary kawaii, check out the best of the rest in kawaii Japanese nail art.

 

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Blissteen

Osaka nail salon, Blissteen, creates kawaii 3D gel nails with a distinctly Japanese vibe, featuring popular Japanese characters and jewels alongside cute animals and glitter. One of Blissteen’s most popular designs is a Hello Kitty nail set, with Hello Kitty’s head atop glittery nail beds and pastel pink nail colors.  

 

 

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Sucre

Sucre nail salon, based in Shinjuku, is the cool it-girl of the Japanese nail art scene. Including collaborations with Japanese brands such as The Pom Pom Shop and Gen-Z favorite, The Four Eyed, Sucre Nail artists are in high demand.

Sucre’s maximal designs shout out bold colors and creative embellishments, from rings to mini cat heads, often with added humor. The Sucre baboon balls design has to be one of our favorites, although we are not sure if it qualifies as kawaii. 

 

Art By You

Natsumi, who works at the Art By You nail salon in Osaka, has garnered a substantial following for her kawaii ‘gyaru’ nail art. 

For the uninitiated, gyaru is the term for a Japanese fashion subculture that became popular in the 1990s, as girls rebelled against the ‘pale skin, dark hair’ Asian stereotypical beauty standards. Gyaru cake on excessive makeup, brush out their heavily dyed hair and generally go over-the-top as much as possible, in bold colors and sexy clothing. ‘Gyaru kawaii’ is a thing. 

Natsumi’s nails embody the gyaru stereotype, which has seen an ironic resurgence over the past three years. The bright, neon colors, big glitter sparkles and embellishments, including body bars and big beads, help to give the long, pointy nails real impact. 

 

 

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Biddie Tokyo

For understated gyaru vibes, it has to be Biddie Tokyo nail salon. The salon’s artists take care to include as much subtle and not-so-subtle glitter and embellishments as possible. Renowned for using techniques such as airbrushing and 3D jelly nails, expect random raised squares and sequins that will leave you wondering how they did it. 

They also collaborate with Tomoya Nakagawa who makes sculpture-like 3D nails, as seen on the likes of Saweetie, Aya Gloomy and Tokyo Weekender cover girl Kiko Mizuhara.

 

 

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Made Misaki

Made Misaki, based in Jingumae, Shibuya, is the ultimate in kira-kira (sparkling) kawaii Japanese nail art, with her popular creations never lacking in glitter or gems. Long, pointy and glittery are her trademarks. She is regularly fully booked up for months in advance with customers eager to wear her signature sparkly nails.

 

 

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Momo Akagi

Momo Akagi is based at Aoyama’s virth+Lim nail studio and takes her own subtle approach to Japanese nail art. 

Featuring understated colors and conventional patterns, one can be forgiven for assuming her nail designs are ordinary at first. But after a second look, you can see the nails feature dainty pictures. This includes things like vegetables and weather, as well as more detailed imagery such as kimono outfits and mountains.

 

 

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Ayaka Shinohara

Ayaka Shinohara, who is part of Nail Salon Wiz, has built a cult following for her bling bling designs. With no expenses spared, Shinohara creates nails that are the ultimate in (her own words) ‘bijou.’

With embellishments ranging from diamante butterflies to Swarovski crystal, Shinohara creates her own bling blog nail attachments too. Check out the typical kira-kira kawaii Shinohara-style nails above. 

 

RORO Nail

Floating between Tokyo and Ibaraki is RORO Nail, who has been drawing tailored art pieces on customers’ talons for over eight years. 

Roro Nail regularly gets anime-related requests. The look often includes one detailed feature nail on each hand and embellishments for the other fingers. A recent addition is a Nijisanji VTuber (virtual YouTuber) nail set. The requests aren’t all anime-related, though. Check out the nails above, made for a client who recently had a baby. 


 

Featured image courtesy of Ayaka Shinohara