Isehan-Honten Museum of Beni
Beni (紅), the Japanese word for red, used to signify the red pigment extracted from safflower to apply on lips as cosmetics. In Japan, as in many other parts of the world, safflower has been used as dye stuff, edible oil and herbal medicine. Yet the gentle red colour that used to tint the lips of Japanese women (and men of noble class in the medieval times) has now fallen into disuse. The pervasive use of cheap chemical and industrial dye stuff almost knocked down the traditional beni makers.
Isehan Honten, established in 1825 in the late Edo Period, is now the only beni producer that keeps the traditional methods. The company opened the Museum of Beni in 2006, wishing to pass down the culture and art of beni to future generations, instead of just creating a show-room.
The museum consists of two areas: the exhibition room, which retraces the history of beni and brings to light its production as well as makeup customs in the Edo period; and the salon, sort of an experiential space, which offers options to feel and taste beni. To tint your lips with brushstrokes like geishas, try “Komachi beni”. Take a cup of safflower tea to warm up your body. To extend your pleasure, you can purchase “Komachi beni” and other pretty items made with beni.
Located in an upscale neighborhood of Minami Aoyama, adjacent to Omotesando, the museum is a great place to explore the Japanese tradition and aesthetics using all your senses.
Place name Isehan-Honten Museum of Beni (in Japanese) 伊勢半本店 紅ミュージアム Phone 03-5467-3735 Dates Year-round Closed:
– Mondays (open if Monday is a holiday and closed on the next day)
– New Year holidays
– During exhibition installations
Opening hours 10 am – 6 pm (last admission 5:30 pm)
subject to change during special exhibitions
Price Free (special exhibitions are paying) Address K’s Minami Aoyama Building
6-6-20 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- 12 min walk from Omotesando Station (Tokyo Métro Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line and Chiyoda Line: B1 Exit)
- 1 min walk from Minami Aoyama 7-Chome bus stop (from JR Shibuya Station’s East Exit Bus Terminal, take No. 88 Bus for Shimbashi)
* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.