Ueba Esou
Kyoto nail born from natural ingredients. Bringing the beautiful colors of Japan to your fingernails
Ueba Esou
January 28, 2016

Taking the past into the future – beautifully!

When it comes to my physical appearance I am super low-maintenance: I don’t wear makeup, and I paint my nails maybe once a year. (Actually, the last time I can remember getting my nail polish game on was for my sister’s wedding 5 years ago.) But when I do paint my nails, the only thing I want on them now is Ueba Esou.  Ueba Esou is a Kyoto-based company which has been in business since 1751, producing natural paint pigments typically used in nihonga (traditional Japanese painting). Fewer people produce nihonga than before, and in an innovative move, they branched out into using their painstakingly produced pigments in nail polish. Unlike most nail polishes, which are typically chemical solvent-based (e.g. acetone), Ueba Esou nail polishes have a white crushed scallop/oyster shell powder (gofun) base, which has been used for centuries in nihonga. This base is then mixed with colour pigments and water to create their nail polish.  The lack of acetone or other chemical solvents means that the smell won't give you a headache while you’re applying it, and being water-based, it’s very gentle on your nails. The range of colours available is also delightful - the Wa-iro series is a range of brighter, bolder colours; the pastel series is self-explanatory; and the Kirara (sparkle) series is a perfect way to inject a little glamour into the everyday. They have around 30 colours available and I want a different one on every fingernail!  As it is water-based, some users report being dissatisfied with the staying power of this nail polish and found it can flake away if your hands are exposed to water for an extended period of time. For me, this wasn’t the case. I found that even as someone who uses her hands frequently for work (cooking in the kitchen every day, etc), it took around 6 weeks for the colour on my nails to chip away completely, which says a lot about the lasting power of this nail polish. It is also intensely pigmented, and so a thin coat will already make your nails pop.  Unsurprisingly, Ueba Esou also received a Good Design Award for 2015. I like supporting local businesses whenever I can, and living in Kyoto, I’d like to support Kyoto companies more. So here’s to making my only manicure this year from Ueba Esou! 

written by
I live in Kyoto and think incessantly about food, both making and eating it. You can find my occasional musings about food at Or more often showing you the places I've been to and what I've eaten on Instagram @furochan_eats. Y

The gofun nail was created by Ueba Esou, a Japanese-style painting store marked by a white fox.
The manicure made from gofun, the white pigment of a scallop's shell, is vibrant in color and good for your nails.
The nail polish lacks a distinct smell and also dries quickly, allowing swift appliance in little time. Moreover, the nail polish does not require nail polish remover. It can be removed by rubbing alcohol, which allows you to avoid adding harmful substances like acetone to your nails.
The richness in color variation also makes it attractive. From the vibrant and energetic Pastel series, to the traditionally Japanese Wairo series, to the elegantly sparkling mica (lame)-included Kirara series, you will surely be able to find your favorite!
We have both domestic and international shipping.

Ueba Esou

Ueba Esou


●Address:579 Torocho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 600-8401
●Opening Hours: 9:00~17:00 (Monday ~ Friday)
●Holidays: Saturday, Sunday and National Holidays
◆Access: 5 minute walk from Karasuma Station of Hankyu Line or from Shijo Station of Subway Karasuma Line

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Related information
Ueba Esou Online Store
Ueba Esou Brand Image Video
Ueba Esou Official YouTube Videos

Nearby spot information

Kodai-ji Temple
Kita-no-Mandokoro built the temple for Hideyoshi Toyotomi
Gion neighborhood & Yasaka Hall Gion Corner
Taste the performance of traditional Japanese art in Hanamachi which represents Kyoto
Sannei-zaka Slope
Traditional Kyoto merchant's houses lining up
Yasaka Shrine
Shrine for Gion Festival-one of Japan's three biggest festivals
Kiyomizu-dera 【World Heritage】
View of the city center of Kyoto from the Kiyomizu Stage

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