Musee & Peace

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This sign from a Nagoya subway is for waxing and other hair removal.


Photograph courtesy of Nathan Hopson.

The three big kanji read:

natsukoi hada
夏恋 肌 ("summer love skin")

But I'm more interested in the words written in Roman letters above the kanji. The combination of the French word "MUSEE" (i.e., musée ["museum"]) and the English word "PEACE" strikes me as incongruous, so I want to try to understand how to account for their concatenation in this advertising slogan.

I did a Google search on the two words with the ampersand between and came up with a lot of really kitschy stuff. See especially the first item that appears, which is the home page for this advertising campaign. I watched a couple of videos that are available at the bottom of the site. The company is an aesthetic salon which offers hair removal, and "MUSEE & PEACE" is their campaign title.

I hardly know where to begin to make sense of this juxtaposition of "MUSEE" and "PEACE". Because the model who appears in the photographs is often pictured flashing the peace sign, perhaps it will be easiest to start by trying to figure out what "PEACE" has to do with hair removal.

Three phrases strategically placed on the website are:

suhada ni piisu ga yattekita!
素肌にピースがやってきた!
"Peace has come to the bare skin"

tabi de deau! piisu na watashi
旅で出会う!ピースなわたし
"I, who met peace on [my] journey / during my travels."

okkina waraigao de, piisu na mainichi
おっきな笑顔で、ピースな毎日
"Peaceful every day, with a big smile on my face."

N.B.:
okkina egao / waraigao de ("with a face having a big smile") — okkina is a corrupt form of ōkina ("big")
egao / waraigao ("smiling face")
de ("with")

I suppose this all boils down to the fact that, if you undergo their treatment, you will be at peace because you don't have to worry about your body hair being seen by others.

This feeling of calm is symbolized by the single or double peace sign displayed by the model in her various comely poses. Perhaps one may also think of it as signifying victory over unwanted body hair.

The same idea of overcoming occurs in a previous campaign slogan, "shōbu hada o te ni iretai 勝負肌を手に入れたい"("[I] want to obtain skin fitting for battle").

This notion of shōbu 勝負 ("match; contest; game") is nowadays used to express special items / outlooks to win battles (against other women, over attractive boys, etc.), and this usage is especially known through shōbu shitagi 勝負下着 ("lingerie fit for battle"). It may also be used for men, as instanced by shōbu kutsu 勝負靴 ("shoes fit for battle"), shōbu fuku 勝負服 ("clothes fit for battle"), and so forth.

For a closer look at shōbu shitagi 勝負下着 ("lingerie fit for battle"), ahem, scroll down to the third section of this article: "Hierarchy at work, hiding in underwear drawer".

Thus, as used in this campaign, the peace sign is double-edged, for it simultaneously emblematizes composure and victory.

There's also the very practical (marketing) reason for having the model pose with her arms raised to display the peace sign, since she needs to show her armpits, inasmuch as they are an important focus in the hair removal business.

There are, as well, many other cultural elements that are included in this "peace" pose, which is so ubiquitous in East Asia. Aside from the main reasons for using it in their campaign that I have pointed out above, the company behind this ad undoubtedly capitalized upon these additional attributes of the peace / victory sign as well.

A special variant of the "peace" pose, one of the most common "cute" poses in East Asia, is known as the yoko pīsu 横ピース ("horizontal peace sign"), and perhaps by other names as well. (Google Image search.)

One theory going is that it makes the face look smaller and the eyes bigger, both of which are considered extremely desirable traits. Here's a blog entry collecting the yoko pīsu 横ピース of a Korean singer popular in Japan.

I think we've gone about as far as we need to in analyzing the "PEACE" part of this campaign name. At least for me, it is harder to get a handle on the "MUSEE" part.

This body hair removal company appears to be part of a corporation, and all sections targeting young females seem to use Musee (e.g., Musee Travel) as part of their name.

I suppose that one of the reasons the parent company chose "Musee" for their various campaigns aimed at young women is that it conveys the sense of "shrine of the Muses", which connotes ideal women who inspire. Another purpose for picking "Musee" is that it implies that you will look like a work of art after undergoing their treatment.

And why "Musee" rather than "Museum"? Well, the Japanese love almost anything French. Now it's time to point out that they also love anything that is kawaii ("cute"), and the model in these photographs is the epitome of cuteness.

I think that her name is Torindoru Reina トリンドル玲奈 / トリンドル れいな (Reina Triendl). She is a Japanese fashion model, what is known in Japan as tarento タレント ("talent"). She was born in Vienna on January 23, 1992. According to this website, her father is German and her mother is Japanese, and she has a sister named Luna.

I shouldn't fail to mention that, like Reina, many top models in Japan are Eurasian. You might be surprised at who some famous Eurasian figures are.

There are dozens of websites about Torindoru Reina トリンドル玲奈 / トリンドル れいな (Reina Triendl), even one for her feet! In all of the photographs and videos in which she appears, Reina is encouraged to be as cutesy, naive, and innocent as possible. She's often referred to as "Cute Reina Triendl".

BOTTOM LINE: the company is trying to sell a cosmetic method for getting rid of unwanted hair from unwanted places) and there are products that may be required for this self-operation in conjunction with visits to their clinics. Japanese young ladies like Reina love to travel, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a goodly proportion of what she is carrying in the suitcase that appears in some of the photographs is hair removal supplies and a variety of cosmetics.

[Thanks to Cecilia Segawa Seigle, Hiroko Sherry, Nathan Hopson, Frank Chance, and Miki Morita]

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14 Comments »

  1. narmitaj said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    The first thing that came to mind was "Museum Piece", though I have no information as to why that might be relevant.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

    @narmitaj

    The katakana spellings of both "peace" and "piece" are identical: pīsu ピース

  3. Jim Breen said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

    Trying to make sense of Japanese advertising slogans is a sure path madness. Friends advise friends not to go there. It even gets worse when stray foreign words are thrown in too.

  4. Nathan Hopson said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

    なつこいはだ (natsu koi hada) is also a bit of word play with 懐こい (natsukoi) an adjective meaning "affectionate, affable, likable."
    As 人懐っこい (hito natsukkoi: the っ / second k is optional but common in the spoken form) natsukoi often used to describe children and animals:

    人懐こい子だ
    She is an affectionate girl
    She will take to anybody.
    (斎藤和英大辞典)

    とても人懐こい犬
    a very friendly dog
    (英辞郎)

    I suppose the implication is that your skin is more ready for summer, love, and being affectionate once you've removed all your hair. If you're a woman.

  5. SlideSF said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

    Not only does the removal of unwanted hair presumably leave one "at peace", but the very act of removing it can be a peaceful experience in expert hands. A not so good waxing will leave one anything but "at peace", at least for the duration of the treatment.

  6. Victor Mair said,

    August 29, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

    From a Japanese colleague:

    I found 'natsukoihada' on the web.
    http://blog.livedoor.jp/polestars55/archives/39207992.html
    It seems to be a summer campaign for hair removal which was created by a cosmetic company or beauty treatment service called ミュゼ. I don't know anything about it, but I think 夏恋肌 is a very clever naming..

    I also found 夏恋 (karen/On reading) as a female name. It looks like a stage name.

    I think the reason that 'natsukoi' is selected for this campaign is that 'natsukoi (懐こい)or 'hitonatsukoi' (人懐こい) means 'amiable/affable'. 'Karen', corresponds to 可憐/cute, sweet, lovely…, so it also works, but you can't include 'summer' in it.

  7. CThornett said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 12:20 am

    Could they be aiming at something like 'beauty and comfort'?

  8. Jongseong Park said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 2:47 am

    And why "Musee" rather than "Museum"?

    It might also help that it's easier to adapt to Japanese phonology.

    Anyway, MUSEE PLATINUM is the company/brand name, so the concatenation of musee and peace is less of a mystery than it would first appear.

  9. J. M. Unger said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 11:12 am

    I recall that in the spring of 1969, Odakyu department store (or was it Isetan?) used the campaign slogan "romance romance bird" (in the katakana version only). The funny thing is that, when Garrison Keillor makes up pseudo-French for the snooty waiter at Cafe Boeuf, Americans know it's a joke, but when Japanese ad agencies peddle this stuff, evidently no one laughs.

  10. Jason said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

    @Jongseong Park
    I doubt phonology has much to do with it. Perfume don't have any trouble singing the song 未来のミュージアム (Mirai no Museum(u)). The Japanese are long practiced at adapting English to Japanese phonology, even if it gets transformed beyond recognition along the way.

  11. Jongseong Park said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

    @Jason: It's not that 'museum' can't be adapted to Japanese phonology, but that it would pick up a couple of extra syllables compared to 'musée'. Musee is a trademark, where it helps to have something snappier which rolls off the tongue for a Japanese-speaking audience.

  12. Matt said,

    August 31, 2014 @ 3:07 am

    On the surface, this "piisu" really just refers to the gesture, and the state of mind it signifies. It's not unusual for models in advertisements to meet the viewer's eye, but it is unusual for them to give the peace sign. The aim is to make the imagery of Triendl feel more attainable and relatable: lots of places use living-alabaster-sculpture imagery to visualize their promise of depilation, but Musee's promise is about how you will feel (cheerful, confident, with no misgivings about your appearance even in relatively revealing summer clothes – when someone is taking a photo, you won't worry about how it will come out, you'll just smile and flash the peace sign).

    That said, Musee does play a bit with the idea of inner peace, spiritual contentment, etc. in the long block of text on the page. But I really think that's just window dressing invented after the fact; the central image is the peace sign and all it implies. (Probably "victory" is indeed closer than "peace".)

    The direct referent for "Musee & Peace", incidentally, is "Love & Peace", which as a phrase is relatively popular in Japan — certainly the target market would know it.

  13. blahedo said,

    September 1, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    I don't really have anything linguistic to add, but the musings about why "peace" might connect to hair removal are presented as if they're a bit of a stretch, but they don't sound at all far-fetched—they almost perfectly line up with the advertising campaign from a few decades ago for the US underarm deodorant brand "Sure" ("raise your hands/if you're Sure"), which were all about the confidence to not be worried that people might smell you.

  14. Victor Mair said,

    September 1, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

    The denotation and connotations of "peace" are rather different from those of "sure", especially in post-WW II Japan.

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