I finally got a haircut on Sunday. I hadn’t gotten a haircut since I was in the US back in September, so it was long overdue; quite possibly the longest my hair has ever been. It was past the back collar of my shirt, which was getting too hippie-ish for my tastes. A few nights before, I had the stupid idea to try and cut my hair to a better length myself, but I quickly realized that it was futile and made the smart choice to stop and leave it to someone more professional. Also, I don’t know how you’re supposed to cut the back of your own head. My attempted maneuver with a standing mirror and the bathroom mirror didn’t really work as well as I would have thought. Also note the only tools I had available were a small pair of desk scissors and a beard trimmer.

After wasting 5 hours of my life for the sake of a “Sunday Open” at work, it was haircut time. For some reason, almost anywhere in Japan, even Goi, there is an amazing number of hair salons and barbershops. I’m not quite sure how this is related to the abundance of chicken-heads in this country, but I’m sure there’s a connection. A lot of places will charge as much as 4000 or 5000 yen for a normal haircut, and will have varying price levels for the amount of extras you want. Common extras in Japanese haircut places are shampoo, massage, perms, and tonsillectomy. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of super cheap haircut places in Japan, usually with some kind of gimmick. For instance, there are a lot of “QB House” chain stores that will give you 10 minutes of haircut service for 1000 yen. I’m not quite sure I would trust a 10 minute haircut and/or a rush job, so I decided against one of these places.

Two of the four Goi haircut places, all within a 1 block radius, seemed to be really cheap, but also more factory-like, and were still super busy at 5PM to boot. I didn’t feel like waiting, so I decided to go to the Takazawa Salon or something, which advertised a 1600 yen haircut. Not exactly the $7.500-with-a-coupon haircut at Super Cuts by a big fat redneck lady, but seemed cheap enough. This was the middle ground, higher than the super cheap places but not as expensive/fancy as the place right next to Matsuya. Most barbershops in Japan are closed on Mondays, which is bad for my day off schedule. I decided that it was either a Sunday or never. Unfortunately, the barbershop I went to didn’t offer the basic “Cut Course” on weekends, meaning that I had to spend 2600 yen total for the “Cut and Shampoo Course,” something I didn’t really want or need. Overall, though, it was an interesting experience and not all that bad.

First, the old lady asks me what I wanted done, and I explained in garbled Japanese. I suppose she understood, and off we go. She washed my hair once, dried me off, and started cutting away. At first I was getting nervous at how much seemed to be coming off of my head, but I think it was just because I had a ton of hair. She finally finished and there was enough hair on the floor to make a baby black panther. The length and everything looked spot on, however, so I was happy enough. Note that during this entire process there was no conversation or small talk at all. I don’t think this was because I’m foreign (which she probably didn’t even realize), as the guy next to me wasn’t talking either. Overall I prefer this to trying to make small talk with Fat Lady at Super Cuts, which I really never liked. I remember one time back in Bloomington when one of them was asking me about myself the entire time, so I lied just to entertain myself.

Zoot Suit RiotBack to the story at hand. Next she trimmed and cleaned up my neckline and sideburns with a straight razor, something I’d never had done. It didn’t feel sharp, but I guess if it did I would have been bleeding a lot. After that it was time for the shampoo, which she did with me still sitting upright. She then put me back in the sink for a rinse, and put some more stuff in my hair. Instead of shampoo, I think this stuff must have been rubbing alcohol or gasoline, because my scalp felt ON FIRE. I expected to look up in the mirror and see Ghost Rider. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and I was back up in the chair, my head feeling tingly like it had been drowned in Listerine. Next was something unexpected; a back massage. It was pretty short, but at one point I’m pretty sure she was just punching me in the shoulders rather than actually doing any kind of massage. After that she dried my hair with a blow drier and asked if I wanted any product in my hair. I said gel, just because that’s what I usually use at home. She started using the blow drier, a brush, and a lot of gel to shape what I thought looked like a fairly normal haircut into something from the days of zoot suits and the Fonz. Please see the picture on the right for a bit of clarification.

I guess it was because I had never tried anything like that myself, but I was personally amazed at what was created out of my hair with just a blow drier and some gel. My hair felt rock solid and had some kind of curl to it. I almost thought about leaving it like that for the night, but since I was going into public I decided against it. I did take a ton of pictures just because I will probably not get a chance to rock a mini-pompadour like that for a while. Check out that curl!