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Escaping the Everyday Routine to Restore My Spirits

Tomoko Endo VOCE Editor-in-Chief

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.106

I didn’t realize my life was this unsettled. I work as editor-in-chief at VOCE, a beauty magazine. I have two young children. From the time I wake very early in the morning, pretty much the only time I have to myself is when I go to the bathroom. I think, at this point, people in my generation—me included—are all relied upon by others, to varying degrees, so we tend to put off taking care of our own needs. We cannot help but turn a blind eye to waning energy, both physical and mental, or our appearance, with contours growing more dull, little by little. To be able to get through every day without springing a leak takes some ingenuity.

Which is why once a month I try to escape my regular routine. If possible, I turn my mobile phone off, tell no one where I’m going, and turn my attention to single-mindedly restoring my spirits. It’s a simple way to ensure I continue enjoying my work and cherishing and appreciating my role at home.

My getaway today is a space of calm and maturity: GINZA SIX.

I’ve been with myself now for over 40 years, so I know what I need to lift my spirits. I head straight for Hotel Chocolat on the second belowground floor (the name alone draws you in). It opened just last year, at the end of December.

I’m the type of person who finds the aroma of chocolate more intoxicating than perfume, and I always have some on hand. Chocolate with black coffee is the absolute best. Nothing soothes a rumpled soul better than a warm chocolate drink. So, I’m in wonderland here. “Hotel Chocolat is a British brand,” a staff member tells me. “In Britain, they drink tea many times a day. And they’ll have some sweet chocolate with tea each time, so the sugar content is kept low to avoid overconsumption.” That makes sense. And it’s true, the first thing listed on the ingredients is not sugar; it’s cocoa solids.

I try some of the chocolate batons, one of Hotel Chocolat’s specialties. My impression: “Richer than any chocolate I’ve ever had!!” They have aroma, richness, depth—refined and satisfying sweetness. A great gift for photo shoots, I think.

What I’m about to buy is this: The Velvetiser, an in-home hot chocolate machine (¥10,000; all prices listed tax included). You can make the perfect chocolate drink using this dedicated machine, developed exclusively for Hotel Chocolat by UK electronics maker Dualit (famous for its stylish toasters).

With a mint-flavored hot chocolate (500 yen at the store) in one hand, my head spins. “Makes hot chocolate in two-and-a-half minutes…easy to clean…and where would it look perfect in that kitchen of mine?” The individually wrapped sachets come marked with cocoa percentage gradations and various flavors, like mint and ginger. Very intriguing. Already, at this early stage, I’m approaching peak personal mood.

Incidentally, a lot of effort goes to make sure the production of Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa is completely free of unethical labor practices. Parts that normally go to waste, like the cocoa shells and pods, are repurposed to make cosmetic products. The current packaging is compostable and reusable. For all these reasons, Hotel Chocolat has become one of my go-to brands.

People’s day to day stressors are numerous and varied, and mine is underwear that fits neither my body nor my mood. For a woman, underwear has very tangible psychological effects. So I go up to the fourth floor and arrive at WACOAL MAISON, which invites me in through its sensual entrance.

I’ve come to select some classy lingerie, I’m about to say, but the first thing that catches my eye is Wacoal’s proprietary 3D body scanner, where you stand face to face with your own body. It measures you, in all 360 degrees, with digital 3D technology, and is provided free through the store’s 3D Smart & Try service. You change into paper undergarments, step into a spacious booth that looks like a photo booth, and hold onto a bar for five seconds. There I am on the screen in 3D outline, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. This is reality. And any time you take your eyes off reality, you can’t solve a thing.

After exposing myself completely to AI, I return to the human world. A member of staff explains some of the tendencies in my proportions using a tablet representing my body in tomographic images (showing thicknesses and widths). Based on the detailed measurement data from 18 points on my body, I’m shown the optimal underwear for me right at this moment.

A lot of people, I’m told, relying on their own judgment, select a smaller bra size than the one they should select. The options presented to me based on my measurements, my lifestyle, and my tastes include gorgeous pieces I would never choose on my own. I’m a little embarrassed. “It may seem a bit too much for you personally, but when you put it on, you’ll often find that your skin looks especially pretty or that it looks unexpectedly really good on you.” I peruse the store. My eyes alight on a photo collection by Richard Avedon and the delicate lace above. It looks like something out of a fairytale, with layers of lace woven in gold thread. From some far off, forgotten place, my femininity comes calling. Yep, the power of lingerie is a thing to behold!

After the measurements and a consultation, I’m presented with a detailed data sheet showing the actual numbers representing my body. These records are retained, like an electronic medical record, so that I can have the perfect lingerie for me selected the next time I visit without having to get measured again. The clear plastic file I’m given is skillfully designed with a floral pattern to conceal my numbers. Every detail is considered in this space that frees in me the eternal feminine.

I should add that there’s a men’s department here, too, designed to look like a library. If you drop in with your partner, each of you can have a relaxing time.

On a chocolate and lace high now, I’m drawn to Maison DECORTÉ on the first belowground floor, the flagship of Cosme DECORTÉ, a cosmetics brand for everyday use.

Since I’m involved with a beauty magazine, I know well this brand’s power and its hospitality. Cutting-edge technology, emerging from many years of research only possible for a topflight brand, is constantly delivered to customers in a way that allows continuous, straightforward use. At first glance, this may seem contradictory—cutting-edge for the everyday—a mission difficult to achieve. The brand’s so popular with customers because the product lineup is so ideally suited to ongoing use. The products feel so good to put on, and the aromas are nice, too. (I personally use a series of DECORTÉ cosmetics for these reasons.) Ongoing use makes the benefits easier to achieve. Here, as a luxury, you can get a facial treatment with the brand’s top-of-the-line AQ Meliority products (from 22,000 yen for 60 minutes).

You first have a consultation in a space designed by Italian designer Marcel Wanders. Blemishes, wrinkles, sags, and bags! The issues begin to crowd each other aside as you age. “Give me the works!” I say, ordering indiscriminately. In return I get a smile and a Leave it to us.

The three treatment rooms each feature a different concept. The spaces, aromas, and music are all configured to maximize the effects of the treatment. Today I’m shown to Calm, a room that brings to mind the calm surface of a still body of water. The low lighting, the temperature, the undulating light. Away from it all, I’m enclosed in a shelter where no one can reach me.

After massaging and carefully cleansing my skin in a steamer, I receive keratin care with a beauty device with natural diamond built in, which sucks and absorbs. The keratin and other build-up form a gray circle and are sucked away. This level of keratin care is impossible on your own; it’s certainly needed, I think. Next is hand care. What surprises me is the warmth of the masseuse hands as my face is being treated. I feel like I’m immersed in a hot spring up to my face; my circulation improves right away. Doing daily skin care with your own hands is important, but the luxury of having it done by someone else is divine.

Today I went with the 90-minute treatment (33,000 yen; 24,750 yen if it’s your first time). After the treatment, I didn’t put on foundation. My skin reflects light properly; the color and glow have returned—I wanted to go out just as I am. It’s that kind of treatment. My skin still feels this alive. I straighten my spine and the corners of my mouth rise. I now have skin that I can approve of. I believe once again in the possibility of my skin. This, surprisingly, renews my energy. Beauty’s the best, I realize again. I’ve gone around and about, and now my brain returns to work.

But it’s OK, I think. I’m worn down, then I escape a bit, then I’m worn down again. This Möbius loop of days, actually, is something I would miss.

Text: Tomoko Endo Photos: Michika Mochizuki Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

editors_endo_tomoko

Tomoko Endo

Joined Kodansha in 1998. After stints at FRIDAY, ViVi, and GLAMOROUS, appointed deputy editor-in-chief at VOCE in 2018; promoted to editor-in-chief in 2020.

@vocemagazine

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2021.03.08 Up