SHIBUI: THE “WHITE” JAPANESE BEAUTY

Wabi-sabi (侘 寂) constitutes a Japanese worldview, or aesthetic, founded on the acceptance of the transience and imperfection of things. ... Its aesthetic characteristics include: asymmetry, harshness, simplicity, modesty, intimacy and suggestion of natural processes.
To understand what beauty is for Japanese women, one must think of Ikebana, the ancient art of flowers. A ritual, like calligraphy, the study of literary compositions and poetry, which the Zen masters have transfigured into a religious experience of reflection and illumination, in a way to guide the mind towards the absolute.
Precise and meticulous rituals: beauty must be regal, intense and shining because we already know that it will vanish and that we will vanish with it and is linked to the total acceptance of destiny, beyond good and evil, according to the aesthetic vision of " wabisabi ”, founded precisely on the transience of things. Therefore, the obsession with punctual and exasperated care has its roots steeped in a millenary and powerful spiritual tradition, in the philosophy and religious influences of Buddhism and Shintoism. Obsession of a people full of contradictions and contrasts, which combines devotion to the past with a vision that anticipates the future. Where manual treatments coexist with hyper-technological and sophisticated tools that try to reproduce, at home, the salon protocols. By transforming aesthetics, and the radiance of the face, from theory to practice. Like in an Ikebana, like in a Buddhist prayer. Into something sacred.
The attention of Japanese women to the care and maintenance of a complexion that is as ethereal as possible, flawless and white as snow, is a known fact. This obsession becomes very obvious by visiting any cosmetic shop, perfumery or even pharmacy in Japan: facial masks, creams, treatments of all kinds to whiten or "illuminate", as the Japanese say, the complexion and achieve the much desired aesthetic canon of bihaku (literally "white beauty", equivalent to the maximum level of beauty that a woman's skin can reach).
The appreciation of white skin as an aesthetic canon has very deep roots in Japan and dates back to about 1300 years ago, during the period between the Asuka (538 - 710 AD) and Nara (710 - 794 AD) eras when, at the same time to the massive import from China of Buddhist religious practices and technical knowledge in various fields, customs related to the aesthetics and fashion of the time began to appear on the shores of the Japan archipelago. Among these, the white color of the leather as a sign of elegance and value. The application of a whitish powder called oshiroi (literally "white powder") obtained from the crushing of rice or shells of shells practiced up to that moment in Japan, was gradually replaced by the much more effective technique introduced by the continent which consisted in the whitening of the skin by smearing a lead-based substance on it.
Thanks also to the admiration with which the aristocracy in Japan looked at the refinement of the sophisticated Chinese civilization of the time, the practice of whitening the skin with a state of lead-based oshiroi soon became a widespread fashion among the nobles of the Japanese court. . Not only women, but also men of the nobility used to apply a base of oshiroi to the face. Being an extremely expensive and precious cosmetic, the concept of aesthetic beauty was accompanied by the symbol of one's status in society at the same time. And so, from the spasmodic desire for beauty and elegance pursued by the refined court aristocracy, the aesthetic cult for a pale white complexion, of an absolute whiteness and free of imperfections, was consolidated in Japan.
Over the centuries, the custom of painting the face and neck with a layer of milky white oshiroi has given way to the much more sustainable concept of a skin tending to white in a "natural" way. Even if Japanese women no longer paint their faces, the value and quality of a white skin remains implicit in historical memory, an aesthetic canon handed down to the present day and of which all the shopping centers in Japan are unequivocal proof, for their offer in terms of cosmetics that enhances the whiteness of the skin as the value to aspire to.
After the World War, however, there was a reversal of the trend. The same Shiseido, giant of the Japanese cosmetics industry, launched in 1966 the promotional campaign for a summer line of cosmetics focused on the concept of the enjoyment of summer, whose slogan read "Let us love the Sun", and depicted (Japanese) models from golden skin in the rays of the sun. In those years it was customary for girls who could not get a natural tan on the beach to use foundation with warm bronze colors. But it was a fashion incompatible with tradition, and destined to soon evaporate from the collective imagination.

The development of scientific research, and with it the evidence that exposure to sunlight causes unpleasant consequences such as spots and wrinkles, as well as dangerous skin diseases, has favored a return to the ancient preference of Japanese women for a white and flawless complexion like a blanket of fresh snow. The candid beauty of white which, as the saying goes, has the intrinsic strength to condone other imperfections. It is the concept of bihaku, that is the aesthetic canon par excellence that has established the boundary between elegance and vulgarity in Japan for centuries.

BE CAREFUL!!!!

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