Sensitive skin syndrome was first described in 1977; however, no robust study has been carried out to evaluate its prevalence in Japan. A national representative sample of the Japanese population over the age of 18 years was taken. Individuals were questioned by telephone and selected according to the quota method. When asked “Do you have a sensitive skin?”, 52.84% of men and 55.98% of women answered “rather sensitive” or “very sensitive”. There was no significant difference (P = 0.22) between the two sexes. The non-response rate among respondents was zero, suggesting that the term “sensitive skin” held a meaning for the majority of the population. Concerning questions about the onset of a rash, tingling or irritation in the presence of various factors, such as emotional issues, cold, heat, sun, dry air, air-conditioning, water, air pollution and temperature variations, respondents with rather sensitive or very sensitive skin responded “yes” more often than others: approximately three-times more often for water (18.97%/6.15%), air pollution (39.29%/12.45%) and warm climatic conditions (29.74%/9.8%). To our knowledge, this epidemiological study is the first to focus on sensitive skin among Japanese people of this century. It is of particular interest for two reasons: (i) it was conducted on a representative sample of the Japanese population; and (ii) the methodology used was identical to that used for sensitive skin assessment studies conducted in Europe and the USA, making it possible to draw certain comparisons.