Although among the most innovative and advanced countries in the modern world, Japan is also a nation where notions like uniformity and social consistency are praised from kindergarten to retirement. As the younger generation of Japanese professionals begins to enter the work force, they are finding it is difficult to stand out and make a unique impression, especially for men who all must don the same black suit every day. Recently though, a choice few have began bucking traditional social trends in order to do precisely what they were always discouraged from: stand out and get noticed.
Known as bijinesu neiru, or “business nail,” thousands of men working in industries from pharmaceuticals to video game design are now paying hundreds of dollars a week to have their fingernails prettied up with gemstones, pastel colors, hearts and even company logos, with many claiming that since getting their nails done, they have been rewarded with pay rises and promotions and now have more friends and lovers like never before.
However, straying from the traditional ways of Japanese culture isn’t always smiled upon. Chikane, the term that fans of the business nail use to refer to the numerous underground businesses that have sprung up over the last year in the red light districts of Japan’s urban centers, are not actual nail salons but are run by women who, along with offering services such as sensual massage, will paint and decorate a man’s nails for them, often charging twice that of an ordinary salon. They are apparently receiving so much business that other nearby adult-themed establishments are struggling to compete.
So although it’s not all glitter, logos and smiles in the business nail world, those who have glammed up their nails are sticking together and keeping it quiet. As its name implies, this is after all business and the men who have adopted the practice of getting their nails decorated as stylishly as possible do so purely to get ahead and make money, so there is intense competition and codes of conduct within business nail circles that must be observed. It’s almost like a modern day version of Fight Club, but you don’t talk about where you got that emerald green gemstone pattern rather than a swollen black eye.
Knowing how Japanese fashion trends can pick up quite rapidly, especially in the Western world, the business nail definitely has a chance to become mainstream, at least for a while. Whether it disappears as suddenly as it arrived or if it will catch on is another matter altogether. But as it stands, the dazzling trend isn’t showing any signs of stopping.
Check back here every other Tuesday for more reviews and tips on how guys are Nailing It when it comes to their grooming.