Lush, a British cosmetic company famous not only for its "fresh handmade cosmetics" but its environmental friendliness, has been a presence in Japan since 1998, only three years after the company was launched in Britain.
Japanese culture has traditionally had a strong affinity with nature, expressed particularly through sensitivity to the changes of the seasons. (This is not to say that modern Japanese culture meaningfully attempts to incorporate the natural world into everyday lifestyles. Conversely, the reality is that nature is strictly controlled and manipulated in Japan and is only loved to the extent that it can be controlled and manipulated. The affinity referred to here is strictly aesthetic.) Therefore, any product that is convincingly marketed as natural is bound to find a ready consumer base in Japan. The Lush Japan accent on retro is also another major reason for Lush's success in Japan, with the blend of the old and comforting (in the face of bland urban anonymity) and the exotic (in the face of bland urban anonymity) that forms the retro appeal.
Lush is opposed to animal testing of products, and supports a variety of initiatives to save endangered species and promote environmental sustainability. It is debatable how much this stance contributes to the success of Lush in Japan, but it cannot be doing it any harm. Lush's prime drawcard in Japan is its blend of bold, unadorned modernity and log cabin cutesiness, with a logo design that would look at home on Japan's number one fashion street of Ginza and a store look and layout that could almost be mistaken at first glance for a fruit shop or garden center, and all signs and labels handwritten, or at least with a "handmade" look.
The above Lush photo is of the Lush store near the east exit of Yokohama Station in the Yokohama Porta shopping complex. Lush has stores in all but nine of Japan's forty-seven prefectures, and employs over 1,600 people nationwide.
Finally, must say that I did feel the pull and went in after taking this photo and eventually succumbed to the new Lush Mrs. Whippy Bath Bomb which made me smell deliciously of strawberries after a long, hot soak in the tub that evening!
Like this blog? Sign up for the JapanVisitor newsletter
Books on Tokyo Japan