Gonta Kashio, Head of Business Department of Shiseido International, is the expression of that politeness and kindness typical to Japanese culture.
In speaking with Gonta Kashio I was surprised to learn that the Shiseido cosmetics house was founded 140 years ago, precisely in 1982 in Tokyo in the elegant Ginza quarter of the city. But I was even more surprised to find out that Shiseido was the first western cosmetics house in Japan, founded by Arinobu Fukuhara, a scholar or eastern and western pharmacy, whose intent was to create cosmetics products based on the principles of oriental herbal medicine allied to western science. In other words, for Shiseido beautycare has its origins in healthcare and wellbeing.
Even the choice of name of the company denotes the innovatory drive towards the creation of new values and curative/cosmetic products: Shiseido in fact derives from a traditional Poem from the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes: Shi.Sei.Do or that is “Praise for the virtues of the great earth, that nourishes new life and generates new values”.
No doubt that eastern aesthetics, medicine, religion and philosophy offer canons of beauty and wellbeing different from those of the west and that these inevitably link up to the idea of luxury.
What is luxury today for Gonta Kashio?
I see “Luxury” as being generally perceived as a self-indulging experience of enjoyment and pleasure representing a conspicuous quality of lifestyle. From a less self-indulging and conspicuous point of view, “luxury” could also be considered as shelter, food, healthcare or education from those who are deprived of the essential things of well-being.
From a personal perspective, I feel the reason why there is such an aspiring appeal towards “luxury” is because it personifies the rare qualities of “Authenticity”, “Integrity” and “Wisdom” symbolized in a “work of art” or an “art of living”; and perhaps when we live up to such qualities, are we able to find the true meaning of luxury or the ideals of well-being which the ancient Greeks called “Eudemonia”.
In this sense, I believe the true source behind “Eudemonia” lies not in self-indulgence but in “noblesse oblige” within which exist an enriching and enlightening luxury.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” (Rabindranath Tagore )