Haircut (2004-04-19)

Two weeks ago I had a haircut.  My hairdresser is Kaminiwa-san, she does a fine job cutting and coloring my hair.

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but in Japan customers get a lot out of their hair salons.  In mine, I'm first greeted by all the staff with a hearty "Irashaimaze!"("Welcome!") and bows.  Even those who are tending other customers turn around and greet me.  Then I'm seated in front of the mirror and Kaminiwa-san will discuss the hair style and color I want.  Next comes a quick hairwash after they cover my face with a small cloth.  This is to a:  prevent water from splashing on my face, b: save the embarrassment of both the staff and customer of having to look at each other at close range. 

After that I'm seated again in the chair and all the staff will have said "Otsukaresamadeshita!" ("You've put up some hard work, well done!") to me before I reach my seat.  I always say the same thing back to them because I don't think lying down while someone lightly massages your scalp is hard work, they should say it to the one who washed my hair.   Kaminiwa-san will proceed to cut my hair while she engages me in conversation about travel, cats and food.  She always remembers what I like to talk about.  When she is done with the haircut, she blow-dries my hair.

Now my hair is dry.  She leaves me to prepare the hair color in a back room.  Two other staff will swiftly take her place and begin to chat with me, so that at no time will I be left by myself.  When Kaminiwa-san comes back with the pot of color, those two staff will begin to color my hair.  Someone else will offer me a cup of tea or coffee and English magazines.  When the process is done, I will be led to have my hair washed again and this time, they mean business.

My hairwasher will first rinse off the coloring, follow by a long and relaxing massage on the scalp working from the top and gently moving her fingers around the back while constantly asking me if the water is too hot or she's rubbing too hard.  Then she rinses the hair.  Conditioner is applied next and she gives me a second message on the scalp.  When that is finally finished, I go back to my chair and hear more "Otsukaresamadeshita!" on the way there.
As soon as I am seated, someone will proceed to give me a full-on shoulder massage.  I usually decline the offer because I don't enjoy massage in general.  Kaminiwa-san, who has been waiting by the chair, will blow-dry my hair and do some fine trimming to perfect the cut.  After a bit over two hours, the haircut procedure comes to an end.  There are more bows and thank you from every single staff as I pay the bill.  Kaminiwa-san will personally accompany me down the flight of stairs which leads to the street and thank me one more time with another bow before we part.

In two months, the whole process starts again.

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