Gaijin’s first haircut

We got our first haircuts in Japan yesterday at Hair Techno.
We stood perplexed at the ¥8500 after the word “cut” on the sign since we were lead to believe this place was reasonably priced.  Somewhat skeptical and a little disheartened, we started to walk over to the post office to withdraw some cash.  That’s when we noticed a Japanese woman running frantically towards us.  It was Ikuko, our hair dresser, wanting to make sure we knew where the salon was.  Gotta love that Japanese hospitality.

Mike got some money and Ikuko greeted us again.  She reassured us that she charges less for foreigners – ¥4500 for women and ¥3500 for men – and asked if that was okay.  We said yes and had a seat at the bar to await our hair washing.

Yes, that’s right.  We both got our hair washed.  And what star treatment it was… The seat reclines all the way back, so you’re actually laying down completely while your scalp is massaged.  The one thing I didn’t care for was the tissue laid over my face (though I suppose that’s just to keep you from getting wet).  Following a vigorous scrub, Ikuko towel-dried my hair …and my ears?  Certainly a new experience for me, but appreciated nonetheless.

Next was a full-on consultation.  I tried (in vain) to show her photos on Mike’s iPhone of my hair the way I like it, but she couldn’t get a great idea.  I said I wanted short hair, short layers thinned out, and my beloved side bangs (short, of course).  Ikuko then dried my hair before cutting it so she could see how it laid naturally.  For the next hour, she clipped up, snipped off, combed, and chopped my hair into a bob.  With a lot of blushing and laughing, she tried to suggest more flattering alterations to my hair cut: making it a bit shaggy, not so straight, thinning it out, cutting it so the hair would flow away from my face, and making it more “round” so it didn’t seem heavy.

The only complaint I have is that the topmost layers are about an inch or two longer than I’d like.  It’s not much of a problem because Ikuko asked if she could leave it a bit longer and I agreed.  I do think my right side is about an inch shorter than my left, though…

While I waited for Mike they brought me a chair and offered some coffee.  Ikuko beamed, explaining that they had very good java since her family used to run a coffee shop.

It was good, but certainly no Bear Pond Espresso 😉

While Mike was receiving his very own star treatment, I felt a brush against the side of my head.  Ikuko’s father, Mr. Yanagi, came over to inquire about my hair.  Both Ikuko and her dad marveled at my and Mike’s hair color.  They also wanted to know if my hair was naturally straight.  Mr. Yanagi spoke in Japanese, and I tried my best to understand what he said.  Ikuko ended up translating, and I managed to spit out “no, sorry, and thank you very much.”  Her dad seemed very excited and impressed with the small amount of Japanese I knew which was a first for me.

All of a sudden, Ikuko broke out in a fit of laughter at something her father said.  He wanted to know if Mike was my twin brother.

An hour later, Mike was also done.  We sat down at their waiting bar before paying while Mr. Yanagi, fixed us some coffee.  If Japan’s been teaching me anything, it’s better to smile and accept than bother to decline.  In America (or in New York at least), we’re accustomed to refusing extra, not wanting people to go out of their way or trouble them.  It’s the opposite in Japan.  If you say no, they will insist.

“Would you like another coffee?” Ikuko asked me.
“Oh, no.  That’s okay.  I had one before I came,” I said with a laugh.  “Too much caffeine!”

Well, after chatting with Mr. Yanagi (who tried to teach us a bit of Japanese… the first person to do so, actually), I got another cup because he was a good host.  Mr. Yanagi was incredibly sweet and a lot of fun to talk to.

It came time to pay, and Ikuko decided to charge Mike ¥3000 because she felt bad taking the extra 500 from him since he didn’t have a job.  We of course felt really bad about it and asked if we could tip.  Ikuko declined, but we’re going to bring her a present next time.

Since it was still a little light out (that’s a BIG factor in whether or not we go out.  When it gets dark it gets cold quick here, and biking around makes the wind that much worse.)

We finally made it to YaMaYa, an international food store with an extensive beer and liquor section.  They’re also pretty cheap (Mom – you’ll be happy to know I can buy a can of tomatoes for ¥98).  I found some interesting things there.

I finally got some oolong tea.
Only ¥598 for that big container.

I also went to the grocery store to stock up.  This week kicks off the New Year’s holiday in Japan, and just about everything but Family Mart and 7/11 will be closed.  The line was atrocious, but I consoled myself later with this goodie:
I had to buy one of these after reading Klarika’s post months ago about yogurt-filled waffles in Seoul, South Korea:

I also tried and failed to make this Eggplant Miso rice accompaniment.
Though, again, I was cheered up by the arrival of a much-wanted package:


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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One Response to Gaijin’s first haircut

  1. Klarika says:

    your hair is so cute (as i just told mike via fb chat), and steve loves pocari sweat. I dont particularly care for or against it. Also, I feel that the insisting thing is a staple everywhere but america—my family in hungary does the same thing; in fact, it’s almost like a diss if you refuse. its a little frustrating trying to think of a myriad of ways to say “no thanks! i’m full” that aren’t offensive.

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