A Japanese Haircut

August 28, 2007

I was only looking for a straightforward haircut, much like this young bloke is getting from his Dad. (Didn’t we all hate haircuts from our Dad?! Dad to kid with hacked hair “Hey, what’s the difference between a good and a bad haircut?” Silent pause. “Two weeks! Ha, hah. Now put the clippers away for me will you?” Would have gladly thrown them down an offal pit). (I reckon this kid is glaring at his siblings who are laughing behind Dad – who also has a grin which was never a good sign). Anyway, best get off the couch. Had a meeting in Tokyo with some senior executives of Matsushita (who own Panasonic among other things). Decided I was looking a bit woolly and needed a tidy up. So I walked into the first hairdresser I could find next to the hotel. My Japanese was limited to Toyota, Hiroshima, Sony, Suzuki – you get the idea. Their English was limited to nervous giggles. I signed with scissoring fingers that I needed a haircut. The very cute receptionist nodded and bowed vigorously then showed me into a very sharp waiting room. Glass and leather, mirrors and chrome. She then gave me a bottle of water. That should have been my cue that I was going to be there a long time. From that point on I was treated like a cross between an invalid and a rock star. I was wheeled in my chair from station to station. Shampoo here, lather there, rinse over there, more goop there, massage somewhere else, pause and read Japanese fashion magazines for fifteen minutes in the middle of the shop (with no glasses – they had been taken off me, carefully folded in a cloth and locked away in their own little safety deposit box). Giggling ride somewhere else (dark this time, with strobes), another massage and rinse. After an hour and half someone tentatively approaches me with scissors. They clip away for moment or two before their role is complete and someone else steps in with golden scissors and clips up the back. A girl in a revealing bib and brace set of overalls swans in and clips the hair off the top before someone has a go at the sides. Then a wash and rinse again. More goop. Another massage. A vigorous toweling. A long and studied examination by three or four as my hair is brushed into shape (basic short back and sides!!) before being wheeled, after two hours, to the reception where I am looked at expectantly by a small crowd of workers. It took a few moments for me to realise I was finally free. That I was allowed out of the chair. I opened my wallet dreading what this was going to cost. Twenty dollars!! I could scarce believe it. I fled up the street to the hotel laughing at the experience but after seven bottles of water I was desperate for a bathroom. I was not game to ask where theirs was – it might have invited another couple of hours of, well, washing and rinsing!!
Tokyo, Japan 2002