September 13

Custom Engraved Lipstick

Here in Japan, occasionally I’m brought up short by a completely unexpected question.

In the line at the supermarket: “Would you like that fruit gift-wrapped?”

At the post office, trying to mail a package of weird snacks to friends: “I need to tell you that if you list ‘snacks’ on the customs form, your package might be opened and some of the contents confiscated because U.S. customs thinks food coming from Japan is radioactive.”

And yesterday, at the cosmetics counter at Matsuya Ginza: “Would you like your name engraved on your lipstick?”

It was free! (Well, “free,” except that the current yen/dollar exchange rate makes buying a lipstick like buying a small car, but I digress.) I gave the saleswoman my card so she knew how to spell my name, chose a heart motif over leaves, and a few minutes later she returned with my customized lipstick!

If you’d like to visit the Ginza area the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura is assigned to investigate the death of one of Hoshi’s customers…read more