I walked into my appointment at 5-ji han on the dot yesterday–a little nervous, but equipped with photos of the haircut I wanted (not the scary possessed woman I posted below!) and prepared to speak an instructional sentence or two. The woman who greeted me began to speak to me in Japanese, and I promptly said, “Sumimasen ga Nihongo o sukoshi shika wakaranai.” I’ve begun to preamble the majority of my attempts at conversation with this… I barely speak Japanese, please take pity on me!!! She had me sit at one of the styling stations as she and the two other women working at the time served a few more customers. I enjoyed my own platter of iced tea and cookies (the customer service in Japan is SUPERB) and flipped through Japanese fashion magazines, practicing reading hiragana and katakana as I waited.
When it came my turn, I whipped out my photos and tried to tell the woman that I wanted the haircut in one set of pictures, but the bangs in another picture. I’m sure there would have been much more detailed dialogue regarding exactly how I wanted this to look, but we discovered pretty early on that our communication was to consist mostly of the trading of broken language (more-so broken English coming from her, since I barely possess even the most broken Japanese), and many, MANY hand gestures.
As my stylist and I attempted to make basic conversation (I told her where I was from, that I taught English at the local junior high school, etc.), the other workers and patrons at the salon were sure having a heyday out of it. I really didn’t mind at all. They all chimed in, cracking up trying to help each other figure out how to express something in English (ie asking me if I have any brothers or sisters), and I too found my limited ability to explain things to them (ie the concept of saimin, which I tried to describe as a cross between ramen and Okinawa soba) pretty hilarious.
I had fun!
I hope they found me endearing and not just retarded.
My hair turned out well, too. Not exactly like the pictures I showed her, but close enough to the style I’ve had for years. More noteworthy than the cut itself was the luxurious shampoo and head massage I got, followed by getting my hair blow-dried and straightened by two of the staff at once (aaahhh… now THAT’s a salon experience!). That and the chance to entertain the locals/be entertained. All for roughly 35 bucks, which is apparently pricey here, yet reasonable by American standards and the same as what I pay back home.
I’m most likely their only gaijin customer, and I’m pretty sure they want me to come back. As Nicole is right across the street from me, I think I’ll go back sometime before my next cut just to talk story.
Overall, I’m quite satisfied. ****1/2.