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Hatsuko Endo

From: Japan
Fields: Beauty and Fashion
In 1905, Hatsuko Endo opened a bridal "grooming parlor" in the Ginza in Tokyo, Japan. She became a pioneer in a new and much needed industry. Before Hatsuko started, the only makeup Japanese women used was a white rice powder with lead. Harsh lip and face rouge were usually in the style of the geisha. With study and research, she learned makeup techniques, including how to use and apply new cosmetics to flatter all faces.

Her shop became a full service shop where hair and makeup were the finishing elements after the details of the wedding kimono, the ceremony and reception were planned.

At first she made house calls to do the fittings and cosmetics because the ceremony and reception could be held at the bride's home. Later, the bride-to-be came to the salon for fittings and, with her family, made arrangements with Hatsuko's staff. In short, from the beginning to the end, Hatsuko packaged the wedding, doing anything and everything involved in its success.

Each new company president since 1905 has been obliged to change her name to Hatsuko Endo. At present there is Hatsuko Endo IV, although Akira, a grandson, is president. The company, including the branches, numbered almost 1000 employees in 1996.

Since World War II, when it became difficult to buy a kimono, the firm bought and made wedding kimonos and rented them to brides. Kimonos are expensive, so this was a boon for the brides. A wedding outfit may cost up to $100,000 to buy, which makes it prohibitive for ordinary families. The average cost of a Hatsuko Endo wedding in 1996 ran close to $27,000. The venue has changed as well. The ceremony may be held at a Shinto Shrine, at a Buddhist Temple, in a hotel or at the new wedding halls.

Both the Empress Michiko and the Princess Masako were outfitted and prepared by the Hatsuko Endo salon. Even today when these royal ladies travel they are always accompanied by Hatsuko Endo representatives to present these royals at their best.

Contributed by Florence Prusmack, author of Khan: a romantic historical novel based on the early life of Ghenghis Khan in 1998.


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