This translates to "Please cut a little."
These were my explicit - and only - instructions to the local hairdresser when I walked in there earlier this evening.
Although my hair experienced hell just a few mere months ago at the hands of a Japanese hairdresser, which left me swearing black, blue and horrific shades of yellow and orange that I would never let a Japanese hairdresser near my hair again, after a few days of dispairing over a rapid increase in split ends, I only had one option. I decided to take the plunge and pay a visit to a salon that I walk past everyday on my way to the subway.
The place looked funky enough - I was always curious about what went on in a hairdresser that has a completely white staircase, mounted with all things kawaii (ie objects so cute that even cute is questionable) like Hello Kitty dolls, Miffy paraphenalia and Kiki and Lala memorabilia, in an all white corridor leading upwards to...to....the heavens one could only assume.
One could of been mistaken for thinking the shop was closed, as they made their way up the stairs. Not a sound, not a whisper. So I was surprised when I got to the top to find a full house - must be the only place where scissors don't go snip snip, but rather....well they didn't go anything at all, but there was a fair amount of hair on the ground.
I think I scared the employees though - if I wasn't sure at this point in time that I was the only gaijin to have ever dared ventured in there, I was definitely sure of it by the end of my time there.
After showing them my credit card to check that it was accepted (99% of businesses in Japan are cash only) and being stared down by every single hairdresser and customer there, I sat down to wait, nervously because I had no idea what I would end up with. When Junya sat next to me 5 minutes later to discuss my wants, I was relieved to learn he spoke the most reassuring words I needed to hear right then - "Short, long (or "wrong" as it came out), shorter and wronger." He also knew "too short" and "too wrong" as I soon found out.
Before I go on, I must say I am rapt, absotutely thrilled, with the results, especially considering the guy that ended up cutting my hair spoke even less English than I do Japanese, and that we had looked through a host of different hair magazines at hairstyles on Japanese women to find something I liked so I could point it out. That and the complete 5-star treatment I received, although I am a little skeptical as to the number of hands I had on my hair over the whole period. I am accustomed to having my hair washed by one person and cut by another. All in all, after 90 minutes I had had no less than 6 different hands washing, chopping, and drying my locks. I noticed that other clients had a maximum of 2 people attending to them, and upon hearing comments on my "kirei" (beautiful) blonde hair, I know why I was given such star handling.
The wash was to die for - full head massage included, all the while with a cloth over my face (am I that ugly?) whilst sitting on a barber's chair which kept going up and down on its own accord. I was even given a Dr. Seuss blanket to put over my legs - can't figure out why seeing as it is at least 35 degrees today. The cut was professional to the PROFESSIONAL...I have not seen any person cut hair so attentively before, he almost had the ruler out. I was a little surprised to be taken back to the sink for another wash - and Dr. Seuss rug.
Then came the blowdrying - I have discovered it isn't just over-charging salons in Melbourne that take forever and a day on the drying leg...it always makes me want to wrestle the dryer out of their hands, ruffle my hair in the hot air, and be on my way. It was during this part, I had 3 extra people working on my hair, and at one time, 2 of them at the same time. Now I don't have extra long hair (although, after 4 years of shortness, it is down to my shoulders, or was, just parts of it are now) so I am still a little confused as to why the troops were called in. My only answer is the blonde gaijin factor here.
It was also during this stage that Junya gave me an almost t00-friendly-for-a-hairdresser-you-have-only-just-met-and-dont-speak-same-language-as massage. In fact, I have only ever being given head massages during washtime by previous hairdressers. This was a full on 20 minute back, neck and shoulders deal. And the scary part was, he was doing lots of groaning ("Mmmmmm....good ne? Mmmmm, mmmmm") while I was trying very hard not to laugh. But it did feel good, and after that I didn't mind that the blowdrying continued for another 20 minutes.
With one final measure against the Leveller (I am not exaggerating about the preciseness of it all), a few more feather cuts with a razor, and another shoulder rub (he only stopped once I had signed the credit card slip), me and my hair were ready to face the world, well Callum and Noriko.
Junya tried to convince me to go for a colour next time, as he gave me his personal and business card...have to admit, Junya was actually really cute, so maybe I can ask him for a consultation over a drink. But isn't that how I ended up with orange hair the last time???