TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Forget cosmetic surgery. The ancient treatment of acupuncture is gaining new popularity as a beauty secret in Japan about 1,500 years after it first came there from China.
As aesthetic sessions increasingly go organic or employ traditional remedies, women at the "Beauty World Japan" exhibition this week lined up to try acupuncture, long known for its health advantages.
Inserting tiny needles into faces, boosts natural facial healing powers, says therapist Takeshi Kitagawa.
"This is not a medical or surgical procedure," said Kitagawa, acupuncture therapist and owner of Yojo spa.
"We use the healing powers that a person's body naturally possesses, and within the general trend toward a more 'natural beauty' our acupuncture is very well accepted."
Japan is the world's number two market for beauty products and services, with sales estimated at over $15 billion last year alone.
Acupuncturist licensing began during Japan's Meiji Era, about 130 years ago, and Kitagawa says his clients, mainly in their 30s, are increasingly pinning their hopes on the treatment, seeing cosmetics or facelifts as pricey and not as healthy.
"It's different from plastic surgery, it doesn't have the risk of failure. Besides, it uses the innate power of human body to create beauty, and that's the reason I like it," said Rie Hayashida.
Japan has an estimated 40,000 registered acupuncturists and over 150 schools, mainly focused on traditional uses.