by Alex Spring


When is a facial more than a facial?  How about when your skin emerges visibly glowing, with muscles lifted and contours newly defined?  Or when you awaken with a peaceful mind, and coulis appear brighter, sounds doom sharper and smells are crisper.

“I’m not a beautician,” says Fumi Yamamoto, the Sydney-based creator and sole practitioner o the aptly named Zen facial, “and this is not a beauty facial.”  Instead, she has melded toe her alternative practices such as facial harmony, kinesiology, yoga, hiatus and traditional oriental healing techniques to create a new type of healing experiences.  “The face reflects the state of our wellbeing,” Yamamoto explains.  “A Zen Facial aims to improve one’s own healing ability balance the ki (energy) flow, harmonise the functions of the internal organs and to remove the toxins from the face and body.”

Yamamoto starts her customised treatments with a gentle abdominal and facial diagnosis that helps her intuit hidden inner woes, no matter how deeply concealed.  She wafts a selection of ease trial oils under my nose and sets to work.  As her small fingertips prise out tension from my face, head and neck, tracing sleepy facial meridian lines and pressing sluggish reflex points, I feel myself slipping into what she calls “a deeply meditative state”.  I call it falling asleep.

When I resurface, idling in that pool of calm, my twittering thoughts have been silenced and the ache in my lower back has vanished.  Yamamoto leads me to the mirror and, unabashed, I dare at my face.  Not only is my skin plumped and glowing, with fine lines softened to non-existence, but the heavy puffiness of my eyelids has dispersed, leaving my eyes wider, clearer and dancing with life.  When I flash Yamamoto a grin she giggles and points to the faint newborn dimples in my cheeks. “Look, Hollywood cheeks,” she says with a laugh, and that, along with y freshly defined jawline, does make me feel a little more paparazzi-prepped.


Yamamoto hands me a small vial of the essential oils to take home.  In the treatment, she explains, she uses the oils to gently shift the mind to welcome calm, but mostly the oils are for later.  “Smelling the oils takes you back to that desired state created during the session.  A little sniff reminds you to breathe, and that state, which del like a little holiday, gradually becomes your norm.”

I drift out in a cloud of grateful bliss, but it is then the real experience kicks in.  It sounds daft, but alone in a strange neighbourhood, at night I quietly and serenely steer myself home, without the expected undercurrent of anxiety.  The next ew days pass in the same gently undulating mood of calm, even at a time when my nerves should be fizzing and popping with stress and exhaustion.  

When I tell Yamamoto about it later, her voice gives away her smile.  “Welcome to the true experience of Zen facial,” she says proudly.  “That is what this is all about: the clarity in the mind, the five senses and sixth sense heightened, being able to listen to your own resources.”For the easily startled, Yamamoto is not preaching some high falutin’ dogma or weird religious cult (although I would be an easy convert).  “I see myself as the facilitator,” she says.  “A lot of people notice the clarity in their consciousness (after the treatment), similar to that experienced after yoga or meditation.  I try to keep it open, and the treatment will only go as far as people want.  It may change your day but not your life.”

Personally, I’m not sure so sure!