Chances are you, if you stay in Japan long enough, you will need to get your hair styled – or at least get a simple hair cut – at least once. While it may normally be a troubling thought to visit a strange hairdresser in a foreign country, in Japan, it can actually be quite a pleasurable experience. In Japan, hair salons are not just about hair. The Japanese are very serious about hair, and to people working in hair salons it is all about omotenashi or hospitality. The Japanese are well known for their great hospitality and service, and the hair salons are no exception. This is why even a simple task of cutting hair is more of a service done with utmost attention to detail.
Here’s a list of what you can expect from a visit to the hair salon in Japan …
Your hair will be done by trained professionals
It’s quite likely that your Japanese hair stylist has undergone several years of training and passes many exams to even qualify as a stylist. Once qualified as a stylist, the person has to work as an assistant for almost five years – washing hair, learning how to colour hair, and practice on mannequins – before they work with a paying customer. Japanese hair stylists require more than just a passion styling hair and a few hours of on the job vocational training, as is generally the norm in most countries. Stylists in Japan have to be licensed to cut your hair, so you can always be sure that the person who is styling your hair is almost always a trained expert. Moreover, they constantly push the boundaries of new fashion and style, and offer the latest hair treatments and cutting techniques to keep your style quotient at the top.
It is quite common for hair stylists in Japan to ask you several questions to understand exactly what you like, and what is your personal style statement, even during the process of cutting your hair. The idea is to make you feel more comfortable and confident in the abilities of the stylist, and to ensure that you get the very best service you can expect. Most stylists will also tell you personalised instructions on how you can take care of your hair and care for them, once you are back home, depending on your exact needs.
Long Opening Hours
Hair Salons in Japan are often open till late nights, which allows people to get their hair cut and styled even at weird hours, after work or maybe before work. You can book a spot for yourself quite easily using the online booking service provided by most salons.
Extra special service, at no extra cost
We have all heard about great customer service being about going the extra mile, but the Japanese go even further. Hair salons offer many services which would normally be considered as “paid extras” in salons back in your home town. Imagine a free head-massage while getting a shampoo or getting your eyebrows for free. In most salons, the staff will pay extra close attention to your scalp. The complimentary massage is extremely satisfying, as is the neck and shoulder massage that is sometimes thrown in as well. And remember that tipping is almost taboo in Japan, so all these services will not cost you anything extra. They are absolutely free!
Enjoy the complimentary drinks
Almost every good salon in Japan offers you a wide range of beverages, which can include something as simple as tea or coffee, but in some cases can also be as extravagant as wine and champagne. Best of all, its all free of charge!
Coupons for Hair Salons
Hair styling and cutting is a cut-throat business in Japan. Thousands of equally well-qualified stylists and salons in every corner of big cities and metros fiercely compete with each other. Almost everywhere you go, you will find young Japanese people handing out fliers and coupons for styling services at a highly discounted rate for first time users. Some salons may even give you a free service, if you are good enough to pose as a hair model for their business!
Attention to details like you have never seen before
Almost everywhere in the world, the cape used to protect your clothes from your clipped hair pins your hand down under the cape. This effectively means you cannot use your hands for anything else. Imagine trying to answer a call or type a message while you are getting your hair done! The Japanese have solved this issue by offering customers a cape, which allows them to stick their hands out of arm holes. You can now use your hands as freely as you want, without worrying about getting hair on your clothes. This attention to details can be seen in some of the questions you may be asked as well. “How many centimetres do you want your hair cut?” is a common one. But when you are asked “Will you be using gel on specific days or all days?” it this attention to detail may seem a little bizarre.
Stylists in Japan often make a lifestyle choice by choosing this profession, as they find this is a lucrative and constructive way to channel their creativity and individuality. As a result, they take tremendous pride in their work, and try to be as distinct from others as possible. This has resulted in many stores specialising in specific aspects of hair styling, such as cutting, coloring, adding extensions, etc.
Given the level of training and sense of hospitality that the Japanese hair stylists pour into their service, it is easy to understand what separates hair salons in Japan from salons the world over. Walking into a salon anywhere else eels like a task and you can’t wait to be done and move on ahead. But, in Japan visiting the salon is like walking into a luxurious Hair Spa, where you not only get a hair cut and styling done for your hair, but also relax, get a couple of drinks and be pampered.
That’s why a visit to the hair salon in Japan is a must-do activity for anybody who is planning to spend some time in Japan. If the prospect of free head and shoulder massages, a glass of bubbly and customised hair service doesn’t make you drop everything and rush off to the nearest salon in Japan, it can only mean one thing. You are probably bald! 😉
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