I just got back from my first trip to the hairdresser in Japan. I can’t believe I haven’t had a haircut since I left Canada eight months ago!
Sunday afternoon on our way to the movie theatre, my “hetero JET-life partner”* Jessie took me by the salon she goes to. The hairdresser there lived and worked in England for a few years, so she not only speaks English, but more importantly understands western hair, and that it is not quite the same as Japanese hair. Conveniently, she was available this evening, so I drove into town directly after work to get my hair done.
I arrived a little bit early, which was good, because I had to figure out all of the ultra-polite Japanese the receptionist was giving me. She finally gave up and called over Abe-san, the stylist. All she wanted was to give me a plastic bag to put my valuables in. Too bad all my crap wouldn’t fit into the dainty little bag provided. It threw me for a loop.
Getting your hair done in Japan is about the same as at home. The only difference I found was at the hair-washing station. In order to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to look at your stylist’s armpits while they wash your hair, your face is covered with a cloth. Your stylist doesn’t have to worry if they have pit stains and armpit hair, and you don’t have to deal with looking at it.
The other difference is the price. Because I was “introduced” to the salon, I only paid 2600 yen – roughly $26 CDN. And no tipping. Something I love about Japanese culture. There is no tipping anywhere. In fact, it is considered rude to tip.
It felt great to get my hair chopped. It’s been such a long time, most of it was dead anyways**. And she did a great job. I guess if she’s recommended by both your gaijin friends and your Japanese bartender, you know it’s worthwhile. Next time: colour!
* Living in the inaka (middle of nowere) it’s important to have close friends. Both emotionally and geographically. Someone who will be there for you when you need advice about local hairdressers, or to sing back-up at a Japanese wedding.
** Yes, I realize that technically speaking, all hair is dead. It’s a figure of speech.