David Chart's Japan Diary

January 11th 2004

I just had a haircut. Yes, the first haircut since I got here. It was cut really short just before I left and it hasn't been growing particularly fast (that malnutrition thing again) while I've been here, so it's only recently got to the point of really needing doing. The haircut was one of the 'Woah, that was more different than I expected' experiences.

Not that there were any problems with it. It's a perfectly good haircut, making the hair shorter without making me look stupid, and I'll almost certainly go back to the same place next time it needs doing. It was a bit more expensive than the UK, but not vastly so, and I gather that's about normal for Japan. Certainly, the price I paid was about what I expected to pay (3,700 yen) -- and that's another reason I put it off a bit.

Anyway, the strangeness started with the appointments system. There isn't one. You turn up, and go in the next available slot. I believe this is fairly normal for Japan, as well. (And another reason to go back to this place; it's two minutes from my flat.) I called in first on my way to do my grocery shopping, and he was a bit surprised when I came back. I was expecting to have to make an appointment, of course, which was why I called in at a time when I couldn't have it done then.

So, when I went back, there were more weird experiences. First, I leaned forwards while he washed my hair. For such a small change, that was very odd. I mentioned it, and he said that they do do 'back washes' as well, mainly for women so that their makeup doesn't get spoiled. Not the least weird aspect of this was that, naturally, he had to dry my face. Someone else drying your face is a bit strange.

The system of towels and sheet things, to keep hair and water off my clothes, was rather more elaborate than in England, but also rather more effective. In addition, they were changed three or four times during the whole process. The sheet I wore while I had my hair cut had the shop's name printed on it, in mirror writing so that I could read it in the mirror. And in English, because I think the shop's official name is English. (Stylish, you see. Actually, to be fair, it would be a reasonable name for a men's hairdressers in England as well: Men's Hair Craft.)

The actual cut was pretty much like in England or America. I guess there's a very limited number of ways you can sensibly cut hair.

The point at which mirrors were waved about so that I could check came some time before we finished. After I'd approved of the cut, it was time to have the back of my neck and sideburns shaved. (This is a normal part of having your hair cut if you are a man, by the way.) He used proper shaving soap, with a brush. And a straight razor. Eep.

Anyway, after that my hair was rinsed, to get loose bits out (leaning forward again), dried, and styled; the drying part was back to being like England, but, again, just how many ways can you point a hairdryer at someone?

So, anyway, my hair is back to being respectable, and I had another Japanese experience to share with my eager fans. No picture of the haircut, though. I'm sure it will show up at some point.