Japan’s youth culture has never shied away from strange and fascinating fads, including the use of nail art as an extension of their often extreme fashion statements. Recently, a new style of nail art has become the form of expression for the country’s otaku who can afford it—anime nails!
What’s up with Japan’s nail art trends?
While Gyaru girls have cornered the market on crazy nails, like the jaw dropping photo below, other fashion sub-cultures have found a more subtle, artistic nail art trend that showcases their favorite anime, characters, and husbandos.
The rising popularity of anime among women could be thanks to the fact that there are increasingly more series geared toward female audiences. And since fashion and expression are synonymous with youth trends it was only a matter of time before anime nails found its way onto the otaku scene.
In Japan, girls can now get merch from their favorite series like Magical Girl compact mirrors, body pillows called dakimakura that feature 2D drawings of anime heartthrobs, and Chara Nails, also known as Ita Nails, which are nail seals with complex cartoon artwork that can either be printed or painted onto plastic nails to be attached onto your own nails. For those looking for longer lasting nails that are customized to specific images of your favorite anime characters, then put a trip to Tokyo’s Akihabara on your to-do list.
So many styles, only 10 fingers: Otome, Naruto nails & more!
Hand painted anime nails aren’t exclusive to Akihabara, BUT as of this article the most talented nail artists in Tokyo specializing in Ita Nails are found there. These true artists on a tiny scale can paint pretty much any character upon request and customize them if you bring in a picture of what you want. There really is no limit to what you can ask. If you’re a girl who’s into Otome dating simulations and reverse harem series, you can get a whole handful of your favorite 2D men to keep close at all times; or if you’re one of the many Naruto fans celebrating the recent end of your favorite ninja series, perhaps a full nail set with Sasuke or Itachi’s face would finally show everyone that you truly are the ultimate fan.
(Source: Ita Color’s Yellow)
Where to get your own set of anime nails
As for the experience of getting anime nails done at a salon, you will first need to book a ticket to Tokyo. After that, it’s about 5 hours in a chair depending on how complex the design or art is and up to $50 USD per nail, making a whopping $500 USD a set! Sitting in any chair that long requires patience, fortitude and a strong bladder, but there is another option. You can order your nails ahead of time to be painted on plastic nail tips. The added benefit of this is that after picking up your new amazing nails, you can spend those 5 hours exploring Akihabara instead of being glued to your seat. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Ita Color’s Yellow Nail Salon is located at the entrance of Don Quijote in Akihabara. Here, you can have any character you’ve ever liked or known drawn onto your nails.
This is all great for anyone living around Tokyo, but what if you live overseas and an amazing trip to Japan is not possible? There is a second option popular in Japan called Chara Nail Stickers, which are not only cheaper but easier to get, so check out our listings for anime nails, Naruto nails, One Piece nails, and Sailor Moon nails.