Backpackers Hostel "J-Hoppers" & "Hana Hostel"

Japanese Barber

There are some activities you will never find in a tourist guide but should definitely be experienced during your stay in Japan. The one I'm thinking about today is the japanese barber.
I thought during a long time I would save money going to the "1000yen cut" and though always went there. As it's named it costs 1000 yen, and takes only 10 minutes to be disfigured. In Kyoto I knew one with a competent guy who could make the job but he flew away. The only fun that lasts is the vacuum cleaner used at the end to clean you up the head and sometimes snatch one ear.
Recently, after hearing a lot of good comments from customers who experienced it, I finally decided to go to a real barber shop. I also wanted to change of hair-style and try a more 'monky' (monkey ? ;-) ) head with a 'marubouzu' cut.
Find one is quite simple, there is one at every street corner. If you don't know what it looks like just look for the red-white-blue twist turning at the entrance door and you cannot mistake. The barber is only for men, and there is also hair-salons which are supposed to be for women but as young japanese boys enjoy airy-fairy hairstyles you will find both boys and girls there. In response for fashion hair-style, opening a hair-salon is trendy and they are completely outnumbered, with their staff spending their day doing nothing in a space sized to welcome a full baseball team at once ... Actually it's surely another interesting experience to go there, but I'm not enough devoted to my dear customers to give it a try, sorry. Another consequence of current air fashion, the barber shops are quite deserted, and the old barber just keeps busy with his old regulars. That's a good point for you : you won't have to wait.
So, how to choose one amongst them ? Well they all seem to be as efficient so the only criterion I could suggest would be the interior decoration. By itself it’s quite an attraction. It looks like you enter 'candyland', it's colorful, cute, shiny, adorned with mountains landscape paints and lot of small porcelain stuff, of course ultra-clean. It makes me think of south of France, of Switzerland, of America in the 70's, ... everywhere except Japan !
Inside the old barber in his uniform is waiting for you while reading newspaper. He welcomes you with a warm smile and shows you the nearest leather seat. Then come the only (maybe) unpleasant moment as you will have to explain him in japanese what you want. Come with a photo or translated instructions and it will be simpler than it was for me : he kindfully tried to quickly draw my portrait to be sure we were understanding each other correctly, but he had a good idea in becoming barber instead of mangaka.
After that, just relax and enjoy. He starts by wetting your hairs with a warm, soft and perfumed towel. One century lead on everything ever experienced so far. He was juggling with the position of the seat and full of different kinds of scissors and rasors, transforming step by step a jungle into a golf green, ending with a one by one hair check with mini-scissors. To be sure to forget nothing he put talc on your hair before last steps. The scissors make the talc fall down and it’s easy to see where it’s done and where not yet. I called this the ‘zebra trick’.
Another delightful moment is the cut of the borders. He first prepares in front of you a lotion in a cloud shaped porcelain, and with a fang-shaped brush applies it on all the border of your hair. Like the towel at the beginning it’s warm, soft, perfumed. More, it certainly contains some products to prepare the skin to the rasor blade as the result was perfect and I felt not even one time the blade. I just remember looking quietly at the vapour going out from the little cloud.
During all the process a big smile didn’t left the barber’s face and we kept talking all along, what was another real pleasure. Finally it took a little less than one hour and cost me only 1500 yen !
I wish you too to enjoy it one day !


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