Today was my day off and I’d decided that finding somewhere to get my hair cut was a priority. I usually have it cut every six weeks and it had been over eight. Thick and unruly at the best of times, it becomes even more curly and unmanageable in humid conditions such as we’re experiencing here. I was desperate!
Finding a salon was no problem at all. There are several within easy walking distance. Choosing one and making an appointment when I don’t speak the language was another matter. I was determined, however. Obviously, I couldn’t live here for a year without having my hair cut so I pulled out my trusty Japanese phrasebook and wrote down “yoyaku o shitai no desu ga” (I’d like to make an appointment) and “heya-kat-to” (haircut). Armed with my note and the phrasebook, which also lists handy things like the days of the week, I set out to conquer the problem.
The only salon that had been recommended to me was Earth Hair. It was also the first salon I saw when I arrived here and I walk by it almost every day. I had pretty much ruled it out, however. Earth Hair is big and it’s all windows, mirrors and stainless steel. Like most Japanese salons, the prices are listed outside and they are significantly higher than the other shops in the area. A cut and blow dry is 3900 yen (approximately $39) and that’s if it’s done by a lowly stylist rather than a managing stylist or one of the many other higher ups such as the artistic director. I had come to the conclusion that it was just a little too posh for the likes of me.
As I was walking walking by some of the other salons this morning, checking their prices and trying to decide which one to venture into, I passed by a girl handing out advertising fliers. This is not at all unusual in Japan. Often, I refuse the offering knowing that it will likely be printed entirely in Japanese and that it will be of absolutely no use to me. For some reason, this morning, however, I reached out and took what was offered and what do you suppose it was? An advertisement for a promotion at Earth Hair! Amongst the Japanese, there were four English words offering a cut and blow dry for 2500 yen, approximately the same price it would be at any of the other shops! Must be a sign, I thought, and headed back to Earth Hair!
As soon as I entered, I was greeted by a girl behind the front counter. I asked if she spoke English but she didn’t. Neither did either of the other two girls behind the counter. I pulled out the flier and pointed to the cut and blow dry ad. The girl asked me something and I must have looked blank so she pointed toward the stylists at work. I nodded not knowing for sure what I was agreeing to and she indicated that I should give her my coat. I didn’t have to make an appointment, I was being offered a haircut on the spot! Bonus! One of the other girls came around the counter and took my purse, hat and umbrella then gestured to the chairs in the waiting area.
As I sat down to wait, I knew that I still had one more hurdle to overcome. I had to communicate to the stylist that I wanted my hair thinned. The phrasebook was no help at all but I quickly grabbed one of the hairstyle books and found a picture of a fairly short textured looking cut. When I showed it to the stylist, he looked a bit dubious but got to work. Noticing that I was holding my glasses, he rushed off and came back with a glasses case for me to put them in. He worked meticulously, cutting my hair dry then wetting it and blowing it dry. When he finished, he handed me my glasses and held up the mirror for me to check the back. A look of great relief crossed his face when I smiled and gave him a thumbs up indicating that I was happy with the results. He handed me a key with the number 12 on it and headed to the front counter. Following him, I wondered what the key was for until I spotted the lockers and realized that my purse and other belongings were safely stowed in locker #12! One of the girls brought me my coat and helped me into it. As soon as I paid the stylist he rushed to the front door, held it open for me while I exited and, in true Japanese style, bowed to me as I left!
For those readers for whom today’s title makes no sense, Katie is my hairdresser back home in Sedgewick. And no, this isn’t how I dress on a regular basis! I’ll tell you about the outfit another day.