Getting a Haircut in Japan

Alex Nguyen
December 18, 2015

I've always been one to dread getting my haircut. Usually, I just don't know what to do with my hair or I end up hating what the cut looks like. Also, I am very picky when it comes to haircuts in difference places as my entire life I've been used to my mother giving them to me (she's a hairdresser). Consequently, I wanted to see how long I could go before I started losing it and needed to transform once more. The answer: three full months. To be fair to myself, that is the longest I've ever been without a haircut and relative to my past, the longest my hair has gotten in years. For once, too, I actually didn't hate myself with longish hair, but rather I thought it was a good look. Nevertheless, I felt it was time to clean up some and look sharp despite the fact that this new growth was actually not half bad.

In looking for places to get my hair cut or even a new style to adopt, I began searching relentlessly. Japan is known for its posh hair salons and the culture around it-- the average cut is around $25 minimum at a salon, something I'm not used to paying for (one would think). There are ¥1000 barber shops in which you get a quick cut, ten minutes in and out, but I figured that with such a blank slate for a potentially amazing new look, I should invest more time, money, and energy into the ordeal. Another consideration I had to keep in mind was the fact that my Japanese, as much as it's improved since arriving in Japan, is still elementary at best and that there will be terms and lingual specificities with regards to hair and cuts that I would not know. Therefore, I tried to get Japanese friends to embark on this journey with me, but in the end, schedules were conflicted and I had to brave the task alone.

Since I was alone in this mission, I resolved to get the best look possible without any assistance. After meticulous perusing on the internet, I stumbled upon reviews and blogs doting on this Japanese company called CUTTALOCA that is essentially a hair salon matching service where you fill out a profile with your current hair style, pictures if you want, and desires for your next cut. On the site, which is entirely in Japanese with no English whatsoever (get the help of a friend), you can peruse all the hairdressers who use the service throughout the entire country and see their credentials, profiles, fees, etc. You're able to pick the stylists you like and request an appointment date and stylists can even send you offers for times and dates they would like to do your hair. The entire service is mostly free-- haircuts are free while services like coloring, perms, etc. may be an additional ¥1000-¥4000, but that is still nowhere near the average price for these services at a NICE salon in Japan.

Essentially, I discovered hair Tinder. I started getting multiple offers from stylists who wanted to cut my hair, but I finally decided to go with this one girl at a salon in Ginza because the dates worked best and she had done multiple cuts using this service before as her profile and reviews suggested. The only thing I had to pay was a ¥500 fee for using the site's matching service, which could be paid online via credit card or at a konbini (refer to previous blog post on why these places are just magical). Having finally found the right time, place, and person, to get my haircut, I embarked on this mission alone eager for my latest transformation.

When I arrived at the salon, I noticed immediately that everyone was stylish and had great hair. I felt ready to get rid of this childish mane I'd grown accustomed to for the past three months. My stylist and I were able to communicate using very simple Japanese and English, but we nonetheless were able to get the job done. Using smartphones, hair style books, and slow trims in increments, my new hair was finally completed! I've been so used to wearing my hair up for the past several years, but with this haircut, I'm wearing it down and slicked to the side/back. When I first saw the final product, I realized I looked much more mature but nevertheless just as youthful, but especially sharp. I was elated to be honest. Even though this stylist was still a rookie in relation to her colleagues at the salon who all have many more years of experience, her skills were not mediocre. I walked out of that salon feeling renewed. The fact that I was able to get such a great new look without being able to completely express my desires in English and the fact that it was completely free were also the finishing touches on this great experience. 

If ever in Japan, I do implore you to experiment and try out this site for when you'd like to get a new do. I saved money, but I came out looking better than before. Also, this whole experience was at a luxe salon that could have easily cost me the equivalent of $50, so I really did win here. If you want to win as well and if you want to look hot with new hair in Japan whether it be a new cut, color, or whatever, use this hair Tinder. Trust me.

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Alex Nguyen

<p>Hi, I&#39;m Alex. I&#39;m a junior at Columbia University majoring in Urban Studies and dabbling in other areas of interest like race &amp; ethnicity studies. Outside of school, I like to eat, cook, take pictures, shop, have long conversations, and travel. Food, fashion, culture, literature, and music are all things I love. Black and gold are my favorite colors. Having lived in New York City for two years now, I feel quite at home. However, living in Japan is something I have wanted to do all my life, so I&#39;m quite excited to finally live out that dream. From the local culture to the food to the fashion, I&#39;m pumped to engage with it all during my semester abroad.</p>

2015 Fall
Home University:
Columbia University - CC and SEAS
Urban Studies
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