A familiar and common sight perhaps throughout the world is the spining; blue and red striped pole. Yes, the barber pole where one can get s haircut and a shave and a whole lot more in Japan. This an unforgettable and most enjoyable experience! 🙂
From the moment you walk in to a Japanese barber shop, you are greeted and everyone inside that works there, bow out of respect.
The shop, chair, ever person working there and everything is neat and tidy.
After being escorted from the waiting area and directed to a chair by a barber, you are seated and prepared.
You then communicate with the barber or though an interpreter (as I did) exactly how I wanted my hair cut, how much off, that I wanted a shave and a shampoo.
Next, I was given a hot towel to refresh myself. Hot towels are offered almost everywhere in Japan for nearly every experience. They are much appreciated to wipe your face and hands. Much of this and many practices of Japanese culture center around personal comfort, cleanliness and respect.
As the barber skillfully and quickly cuts your hair as you desire, thrir movements are so precise and with such a light touch, it is as if they were not there and you can hardly feel a thing. I did mean “their” a plural personal pronoun meaning more than just one. Indeed, there are more than just one barber involved in serving you. My first experience, there were no less than six people that served me. There was the hot-towel person that constantly brought hot towels or covered your face as needed. There was what I call ‘Cut Barbers 1, 2 and 3. The first one started, the second one fished and the third checked to insure that 1 and 2 did all that was required and perform in touch-ups necessary. The last two would be involved with the shaving and shampooing.
Well, sitting in the chair yo are so impressed with their skill and that leads to confidence in their abilities. So this of course is part of the relation therapy. It is not uncommon to fall asleep or doze because, yo are so relaxed and almost unaware of their presence. In my experience, I could not tell when the first barber left and the second took over. The Japanese are very particular about touch. Once contact is made they keep it even when transferring to another person, Well, my eyes were closed and I only opened when the ‘touch’ changed from my heard to my face. And when I did, I was surprised to find another person starting the process of shaving me. I was surprised to find that this was a woman as it is uncommon to find female barbers.
Note: The barbers in these pictures are wearing masks for their own protection because of, the pollution they believe is coming from China and has nothing to do with allergies or fear of the flu bug coming to them from foreigners.
Back to the shave. Again your face is covered with hot towels, it is rubbed with an emollient of some kind to reduce friction and then it is hand-lathered with shaving cream skillfully applied with a natural bristle brush. The shaving was so light and precise it was as if it could not possibly be close enough or the the blades used were very sharp. They were! And like almost any normal person, when someone is holding a blade at your throat, you have a tendency to be awake and have your eyes open! 🙂 No worries, Japanese barbers are incredible!
After shaving your face, it is hot-toweled again and a fragrant astringent is applied to tighten the pores and freshen your face. Facial hair is very important to the Japanese. Not a single hair can be missed or out of place. This means on the forehead (even the peach fuzz is shaved), eyebrows, the back of your neck mustache or beard, on, inside of and outside of your nose and ears and etc. Nothing get missed! It is by far the best shaves and the closest shaves that I have ever had. How close? Close enough that I did not have to shave myself for two days. How close? Baby’s butt smooth, close! 🙂
After the shave, I went for a shampoo. Instead of leaning back in my chair to the shampoo sink as with my barber in NY, I leaned forward towards the shampoo sink. Your hair is lathered and massaged through yor scalp like a million fingers dancing through your happy!! 🙂
The shampoo is incredible and warm water gently washes away the shampoo and your every care. Then your head, neck and shoulders are rubbed/massaged to release any last remaining negative energy and release you to peace and tranquility and whew, don’t I just feel like a million bucks!!!
The final thing is to blow-dry and hand sculpt every hair in place on your face. You get out of the chair and you feel like you look and you feel like a millions bucks! And how much did all this first-class pampering cost? About the same price with tip that I pay for just a trim by my barber at home – $18.00. And no tip is allowed in Japan, but I would have more than been willing to do for this kind of service.
If I can’t be handsome or handy, at least every hair on my face can be perfectly placed, and my skin as soft as a baby’s butt or face. Susan watched and she was pretty amazed. She gave me the kissable face seal of approval.
I would love to have a Japanese barber where we live! I would love to import some Japanese barbers! Do yourself a favor. If you ever have the opportunity to have your hair cut, a shave and a shampoo by a Japanese barber, Carpe bar-be-um SEIZE the BARBER!!! 🙂
By the way, I am told that the experience of cutting your hair for women. In Japan, is 10 times better than for a man!