This afternoon JB and I went to Mitsuwa’s, a Japanese mall in Arlington Heights. I had miso ramen for lunch (along with nibbling on JB’s sushi and onigiri) in the food court and green tea ice cream before coming home. We bought some tasty sake (we sampled it first) and picked up some noodles, mushrooms, and other tasty treats.
Wandering the aisles, we were amazed to discover the new Noh, some kind of facial treatment that has all the lotions and chemistry on the inside of a mask (very Noh-like) that the user then massages through the mask into the face for fifteen minutes.
Noh is classical Japanese musical drama form dating from the 14th century. Many actors traditionally wear “type”masks in its performance, which customarily lasts all day. Noh actors rehearse their parts independently, only rehearsing together once a few days before any performance, which exemplifies the Japanese cultural aesthetic of transience. This has led to the Japanese phrase, “ichi-go ichi-e,” which means “one chance, one meeting,” “one chance in a lifetime,” “for this time only.”
No doubt these facial masks can only be used once so “ichi-go ichi-e.” Their vulnerability and fragile nature are quite apparent in the displays at the mall (see photos). I can’t imagine these facial masks being very successful outside of Japanese culture. These masks fit into a nuanced cultural niche layered with meaning and intention. Though barely changing these past 700 years (hardly transient at all), in the theater of interaction and the marketing of beauty, who knew new Noh was nigh?