After our first full month in Japan, it was time to go to a hairdresser to freshen up our looks. I was quite nervous: I don’t even trust Belgian hairdressers completely, and this time, I’d have to make myself clear in Japanese. Hänsel and I made time to see each other again in the weekend, so we roamed around Kobe to find an affordable hairdresser. As we tried to judge each hairdresser’s trustworthiness and price/quality balance by their shopfronts, it soon became clear that in Japan, some hairdressers and barbers have “haircut menus” to limit your choice. We even saw one where a choice of only six different hairstyles was offered, which somehow reminded me of the urban myth about North-Korean hair dressers.
Finally, we found a fairly cheap hairdresser, located underground, who accepted new clients after six o’clock in the afternoon. As we walked in, we were asked what we wanted – a cut please! – and were told to sit down. This was still very familiar to how things go in Belgium. There were lockers to put our stuff in, which meant we didn’t have to brush off our hair and that of others off our bags.
Also, the washtables were quite different from the ones we’re used to. Just like with the fancy high-tech toilets, these seats were fitted with electronics for comfort: they went completely flat, a difference which I warmly welcomed since my limbs always go numb when sitting with my neck bent over the sink. A lady whose hair was being washed was even offered a blanket while lying down. Don’t be surprised when they put a cloth over your face: this is to protect your eyes from shampoo and water droplets gone wild.
I was the first to have my hair cut. Interestingly, there was a cheaper cut + blow option, without having your hair washed – most hairdressers in Belgium won’t do that – and since I washed my hair only the day before and it was naturally cheaper, I chose that option (I sound like a scrooge now).
When the moment came I had to ask for a haircut, thankfully, I didn’t have to explain a lot. I asked the hairdresser to cut my hair up to just above my shoulders and showed her what I meant with my hands, hoping that she would understand (the last hairdresser I went to when I was still in Belgium clearly didn’t). She then asked me some specific questions – do I want it as it is now, but shorter? Not thinner? What about my bangs? – and started cutting. Since my hair was dry while she was cutting it, it turned static and I started to resemble Medusa.
Luckily, it turned out just the way I wanted after it was brushed, as if the hairdresser could read my mind! She made my bangs a bit more even – I had cut them myself, which she noticed – and was ready to go. All this for only ¥1500, which is about €11,30!
For budgetary purposes, I also went with the cut + blow (minus the wash) option, but felt bad for the hairdresser afterwards. He had to use the water spray quite a few times while cutting since I’d used hair wax that morning.
The haircut I wanted was the one I’d had two months earlier while still at home, and luckily, I had a few pictures of it from all necessary perspectives. Showing them to the hairdresser was easy, and afterwards, I was surprised to see he imitated it perfectly.
What was also surprising was the price difference between my girlfriend’s haircut and mine. It cost me about ¥2100 or €16, which is affordable but still more expensive than the same service for ladies. I guess that compensates for the usual man-bias!