Our Slice of Tokyo

Japanese Nail Art: An Industry Unexplored

Nail art has been a hip for some years now especially with gel nail polish. Since I was 17 years old my nails have been well taken care of. It was my mom who started putting nail polish on my nails. She said that it will make my nails stronger and would not easily chip. And this would also prevent me from biting into them when I am bored. 🙂 Since then, I always have nicely polished nails. Some of my close friends even use it as an indicator whether or not I have been busy with work and life. Old polished nails would mean I did not have enough time to change like I usually do. And just a few months ago, I did not know the my nails would open another adventure for me here in Japan.


Modelling for Japanese Nail Art


It started with a joke when my friend Jezza posted that she needs volunteers for her nail art studies. I told her that if she needs nails to practice with, I am willing to lend my hands. She cleaned and polished my nails twice or thrice every time I visited their house for my Saturday class with her kids. But I was surprised when she asked me if I can model for her. This would mean practicing with her at the nail art school here in Nishi-Kasai and then going with her on the day of her licensure exam.

From that time on, my Saturday became busy. I have classes in the morning, go home for brunch with my husband, go to Jezza’s house to teach English, and then go with her to the nail art school after that.

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First Day of My Nail Art Modelling Career 🙂


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Our Practice Table Inside the Nail Art School in Nishi-Kasai


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Leanani is an Accredited Nail Art School and Salon Here in Nishi-Kasai

April 24 was the D-Day. Around eleven in the morning we went to Ikebukuro for Jezza’s licensure exam. It was organized by the Japan Nailist Association and was held at the Tokyo Convention Center in Sunshine 60. As we entered the premise, we saw other examinees with their kits and models. It was quite easy to distinguish who is the model and who is the nail artist. The models have bright red nail polish while the artists have big nail kits. I was surprised when all participants entered the room. On my estimate, we were more than 500 pairs for that afternoon schedule. Including the morning group, there were more than a thousand aspiring nail artists. And this exam is being conducted four or five times a year. Whew!! That’s a lot!! There were also quite a number of guys who modelled as well as a large number of foreigners taking the exam.

The moment we reached our designated table, Jezza started to assemble her kits. There some announcements and rules review before we were asked to start. The first part of the exam was the actual nail exercise – cleaning, application of the red nail polish, and then nail design. All of these should be done within 70 minutes. When the signal started, the room suddenly became quiet. All we can here were the tapping sound of the acetone dispensers.

Time went very fast. We did not even notice that the 70-minute alloted time was already gone. After that, the artists were asked to leave their tables while the models remain. For about 30 minutes, our hands were examined and evaluated by 4-5 exam evaluators. It was a bit difficult to tell whether they were satisfied with the work or not because they were goo at keeping their poker faces. For the last part, the artists went back to their tables to take their paper exam. During this time, models were asked to leave the room either to go home or wait for their partners outside.

Overall, it was a very memorable experience. I learned a lot about the industry here in Japan and gained more knowledge how to properly take care of my nails. The results of the exam will be released in a month. While waiting for the results, my friend will start studying about gel nail application. In June she will again have another exam for gel nail. So, my modelling career will continue at least until June 🙂

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Jezza Setting Up Our Table


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Surprisingly, Our Row Was Mostly Foreigners


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Our Exam Number. The Green Mark Indicated That The Nail On This Finger Had A Repair


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My Hands with Nail Art 70 Minutes


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Me and Jezza After the Exam

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