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.  

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