Smallflower Chats with Mariko Sato of Chidoriya

Mariko Sato has been a friend of Merz Apothecary for a long time. You’ll often find her on the floor in Merz, talking to customers, helping them with their concerns, and sharing her knowledge about Chidoriya’s one-of-a-kind product line.

We thought it was high time that we sat down for a chat with Mariko so that she could pass on her knowledge to Smallflower’s curious customers. We discussed skin care, organic ingredients, and the story of Chidoriya as a brand.

Smallflower: Tell us a little bit about the history of Chidoriya

Mariko: Chidoriya was established in Kyoto City, Japan in 1949 by Mr. Osamu Horikiri. In its first years he focused on making original beauty goods and handbags for Maiko (apprentice Geisha) and Geisha. Geisha and Maiko girls were the fashion and beauty trendsetters in Kyoto at the time.

Osamu’s daughter Tomomi worked a makeup artist in both New York and Japan for more than 25 years. She worked with major musicians, models, and actresses, and she met many people who were having skin problems such as acne, eczema, etc. This encouraged her to do extensive research about the cosmetics and skincare products which she has been using at the time. As a result, she discovered that many allergic or skin reactions are caused by the chemical or synthetic ingredients that are contained in them.

One day, she received a gift from her friend: an herbal water that was made by her grandmother. The idea came to her to make skin care products that are 100% natural and organic, using Japanese traditional ingredients with a twist. She continued her research based on the philosophy that cosmetic ingredients should be almost the same as what we eat!

Chidoriyaworld.com was established by Tomomi in New York in 1999, with her wish to introduce the excellent beauty goods of Japan to the US. The first product launched was the pure camellia oil-based Azuki Red Bean & Brown Sugar Soap. Since then we have produced products using traditional ingredients such as yuzu, green tea, azuki, rice bran, and gettou (Alpinia speciosal).

Today, we carry over 100 items including Tsug boxwood combs, brushes, cosmetics pouches, and hair accessories. We export to London, Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong.

Adzuki Brown Sugar Soap Chidoriya

S: How did you first discover the brand?

M: I started my career as a Makeup Assistant for Tomomi in 1993 in New York. Creating organic skincare was Tomomi’s dream, and she had a solid plan. In 1999 she asked me to join the new Chidoriya corporation in NYC, and I said yes! I’ve been married to Chidoriya since.

S: What makes Chidoriya products unique?

M: We believe in being original and not copying others. We still wrap each Azuki & Brown Sugar Soap by hand–machines just can’t do this job. I think there is a bit more charm being a lifestyle brand more than just skincare brand. We offer skincare and also some beautiful handmade accessories made by artisans, such as Japanese Kanzashi hair sticks, cosmetic pouches, Tsuge brushes and combs, and more.

S: What’s your daily skin care regimen?

M: Good wine and good friends! Just kidding! (Well, not really…) I follow three very simple daily steps.
1.) Cleanse with a good and mild cleanser. Our new non-soap, purifying Yuzu Seed Cleansing Balm is super awesome!
2.) Tone and balance with the Peach Moon Herbal Water from Okinawa. Tanja of Merz Apothecary says this is the gold standard for the skin, nothing better.
3.) Hydrate with an organic face cream. I use the Secret de Geiko and/or a beauty oil, either the Camellia Seed Oil (green tea seed) or the Organic Rosehip Seed Oil.

Peach Moon Herbal Water Chidoriya

S: Which Chidoriya product(s) can you not live without?

M: Definitely the Peach Moon Herbal Water. Super refreshing!

S: Which 3 products would you suggest to someone who is new to the brand?

M: This is hard!

1.) Our non-soap cleanser Yuzu Seed Cleansing Balm or the Massage & Cleansing Oil. Use these with our Organic Cotton & Silk Cleansing Facial Cloth.


2.) The Peach Moon Herbal Water with a spray top for spritzing.

3.) One of the Chidoriya face creams — Secret de Geiko is hydrating and brightening.

S: Are there any new products in the works?

M: Oh yes! We are working on the new toner and serum that might be ready around the holiday season. These products will be fabulous, please stay tuned!