Kaoshi showed the Japanese beauty of white make-up

Around 200 guests who came to Audi Forum at the night of May 11th for our event “The Art of Japanese Beauty: Past, Present and Future” were fascinated by Satomi’s demonstration, which they had never seen before.

Satomi is one of only 10 make-up masters who specialize in Shironuri, which means “white make-up” in English. Shironuri was traced back to as early as the 7th century, and its technique has been preserved by a handful of make-up masters, Kaoshi, for centuries. You can see Shironuri in the form of make-up of Kabuki actors, Geisha girls, and performers at traditional Japanese festivals.

Satomi was born in Okinawa, southern part of Japan, where she grew up learning traditional Japanese dance which was handed down for centuries in this area. At the age of 24, her passion to the dance let her move to Kyoto, which used to be a capital of Japan from the 8th century to the 12th century. In Kyoto, meeting a man through watching Japanese puppet show, which is one of her hobbies, completely changed her life.

Keisuke Okuyama, who is one of the Kaoshi in Japan and later became her master, always told her the importance of telling genuine things, and encouraged her to see movies, visit temples, and go to museums to gain this skill. As Keisuke realized how hard Satomi worked to follow his advice, he asked her to try Shironuri, white make-up. Since Shironuri keeps tradition that has been passed down from masters through its long history, it usually takes more than 20 years to obtain all the techniques that you need to be qualified as a professional master. Satomi said that she spent 7 years to learn how to put make up only on hands and legs, and another 3 years for facial make-up.

There is no qualification to become Kaoshi, and you need to be appointed as Kaoshi by your customers and masters. Around 20 year of training to become Kaoshi was not hard

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for Satomi because it is the result of her passion for what she liked to do. White is different from other colors because it enables you to erase what you originally have and create something new. Her life long project of pursuing the beauty of “white” as Kaoshi continues.