14 April 2013

A Week of Good News

This past week was fantastically full of good news.  Let me share.

First and most important, the Japanese Quarantine Service sent me a confirmation number for my dog to come to Tokyo!  Assuming everything goes according to plan, now she'll be able to pass through customs in less than 12 hours (as opposed to 6 months)!  I'll basically just have to go and pick her up from the airport.  I've mentioned before how much I miss and love my dog.  Just two weeks until I see her again!  I can't wait!

I also found out one of my dearest friends will visit me in May!  She'll be chaperoning a Ball State Honors College trip to Vietnam, and she'll fly through Tokyo.  She was able to extend her stay in Tokyo for a few days on her way home.  Until she learned about this trip, she'd thought that visiting Tokyo would be impossible.  I'm thrilled she found a way to visit me!  

I already wrote about the fantastic head massage I received at the hair salon last week, but at that time I didn't know it'd be a week of two massages!  My boyfriend hosted some Russian Couch Surfers, and one of them loved giving massages.  I was a happy camper by the end of their visit.

Finally, I learned that one of my substitute teacher days at work has changed to a permanent shift.  I'm now working in four different schools with an additional day of sub duty for a grand total of five working days.  Working in five different locations every week isn't ideal, BUT the schools I'm in are full of friendly staff and great students.  I've heard that's not always the case.  Three of my schools are on the same train line, so that also helps.

For me, having one less day of sub duty more than compensates for having so many schools.  Sub duty stresses me out just a little bit.  Because of the nature of sub duty, it's difficult to make any plans-- I never know where or when I'm supposed to go for my shift. Having a permanent shift gives me peace of mind; I can make plans, leisurely make my way to my school, and actually get to know the staff.  Here's hoping my last sub day changes to a permanent shift!

(Out of fairness, I should mention that some teachers like sub duty.  I'm told they like traveling around Tokyo, meeting so many new people, and generally seeing parts of the city they might not have on their own.  Those things are awesome, and I'm glad some teachers like it; however, I personally prefer structure in my work environment.)  

05 April 2013

Getting a Haircut in Japan

I've been needing a haircut for about a month.  Back in October I cut off about a foot of hair and donated it to the Pink Heart Funds.  With less hair, I decided to go all the way to a pixie cut, which I loved immediately.

My pixie cut in October 2012
Even though I loved my new cut, after a couple months I discovered that even though the style itself was delightfully low-maintenance, I had to go to the salon more often to keep it up.  In my quest for a simpler, reduced lifestyle with more frugality thrown in, I decided that a longer style would fit my needs better right now.  I've been growing it out since around December.

Anyone who's ever grown out his or her hair from very short understands that there's an... ugly... period where the ends don't meet, the hair isn't even, and generally your hair doesn't flatter your face.  I'm in that faze right now.  In January my amazing roommate trimmed it up as best she could, but two months later it was ragged and decidedly mullet-like.

Enter the Japanese hair salon.  I've been looking for a hair salon that accepts foreign clients, offers a cut at a reasonable price, and allows walk-ins (since I can't speak well enough to schedule an appointment).  After work yesterday I found just such a place.  Thanks to some Japanese-speaking co-workers, I learned to say "Do I need an appointment?" (Apointamento iri mas ka?)  The salon I selected graciously accepted me and my limited-to-a-handful-of-words Japanese.

The experience amazed me.  The staff pampered me the whole way through.  First, the stylist verified that I was ok with the price (it was about 5,000 yen; a bit more than I pay in the States, but still within my "reasonable" parameters).  Then the staff handed me some magazines to select the style I wanted.  

Then came the best part: a staff member shampooed my hair.  But she didn't just wash it-- oh, no. That wouldn't be Japanese amazing-service enough.  She gave me a solid 15 minute head massage.  To finish, she wrapped my head in a hot towel.  I could feel my muscles relaxing in pure ecstasy.  It's nearly 24 hours later and my head still feels amazing.  

Finally, my Japanese-fabulous hair stylist performed hair magic on my tresses.  He evened out the hair, trimmed my bangs, added some texture, and generally made my hair look like it had an actual style.  The whole time he cut my hair he was practicing his English with me, which I appreciated and enjoyed.