Makeup is big business in Japan, where there’s almost a cultural obsession with the stuff. But the demand for makeup and beauty products also means, through the magic of capitalism, that it also tends to be a lot more expensive out here than in, say, the US. I’ve personally never purchased or used makeup, outside of, obviously, those Halloween Rocky Horror Picture Show events, so I couldn’t tell you exactly how much the average woman in Japan spends on makeup, but it’s gotta be somewhere in the ballpark of, hmm, approximately their entire paycheck every month.
Luckily, there appears to be a “lounge” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood that is sympathetic to the thorough wallet-denting women must endure in the pursuit of beauty, offering all-you-can-apply Chanel makeup at just 300 yen (US$2.50) an hour. A service with “all-you-can-(verb)” in the description? You bet we went to check it out!
As much as I wanted personally to check the place out so I could make myself up like Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, a female writer over at our Japanese sister site won the rock-paper-scissors contest and became the lucky reporter dispatched to Shinjuku VIP Lounge, the all-you-can-apply makeup-plus-other-stuff-including-free-miso-soup-for-some-reason relaxation space in the heart of downtown Tokyo.
For just 300 yen (500 during peak periods) per hour, guests can enjoy not only the free makeup, but also use the lounge’s foot massage machines, PCs and printers, read manga, quench their thirst with unlimited fountain drinks, change clothes in the provided fitting rooms, use a bunch of the lounge’s weird beauty gadgets and, perhaps most importantly and randomly, drink ALL THE MISO SOUP from the lounge’s miso soup dispenser.
Our reporter remarked that the facilities at Shinjuku VIP Lounge are spacious and comfortable to boot, with rows of wide couch seating, tables, chairs and a flat screen TV. She also gushed over these Panasonic beauty electronics available for use at the lounge, the mechanics and purpose of which I’m not even going to attempt to comprehend.
Next, our reporter checked out the all-you-can-use makeup on offer and was not disappointed, although she did note that the various brushes, pads and other tools necessary to actually apply the makeup appear to be sold separately; an understandable move, given you probably don’t want to use the same grody applicator that the weird David Bowie impersonator, who is always milling around and who is not me I swear, just used.
Our reporter was even kind enough to give us a series of before/after snapshots as she used the lounge’s makeup cache for a full transformation:
Of course, when a facility of any kind offers a random miso soup dispenser, you just gotta give it a try, so on the way out, our reporter filled a cup with the traditional Japanese soup and took a swig. She noted the miso was quite aromatic, but otherwise tasted pretty average.
For a lot of people, the typical thing to do when they find themselves in Shinjuku with an hour or two to spare is to drop by a manga/internet cafe or a coffee shop, but Shinjuku VIP Lounge offers up another novel option for the discerning Shinjuku wanderer. By the way, there’s no word on whether men are even allowed into the facilities, as the location is obviously geared for the ladies, but hey guys, if you too want to look as good as Ziggy Stardust, you’re welcome to take a crack at going inside.
Shinjuku VIP Lounge / 新宿VIPラウンジ
Address: 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−12−11
Open daily 5:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (must enter at least one hour before closing)
[ Read in Japanese ]