24 November 2005

I'm Turning Japanese

My mop was looking outrageously overgrown so I went to visit Stylist-san for some more lovin' and to replenish my stock of sake.

He presented as a magnificent vision as always. He and his two assistants quickly applied the dye whilst I started reading Mike Moore’s diatribe about “Stupid White Men”. It was with a sense of relief that I put the book down to head over to the basin for the shampoo and massage, my favourite part of the whole process.

As it is autumn, the salon has prepared measures by which to combat the lovely, crisp air that is in stark relief to the oppressiveness of summer. The heating in the building was turned up to about 25 degrees Celsius. I felt like yelling, PEOPLE, IT’S NOT THAT COLD!

After I arrived, I stripped off my layers of clothing in disgust, wishing I were wearing a pair of stubbies and a singlet. When I leaned back into the basin, a woollen blanket was placed over me. A steaming, hot towel pillowed my neck. I hate the heat and I don’t usually feel the cold. By the time they had had rinsed, massaged and pummeled my scalp, I had sweated out about three kilos of body fluid.

I glanced in the mirror as I sat back in the chair to get my haircut and noticed that my face was covered with angry, red blotches. This happens whenever there is even the slightest hint of heat in the air, so it was no surprise considering the salon was like a sweatshop. The other thing I happened to notice was the MY HAIR WAS BLACK!

I reassured myself it was because my hair was still wet. But no. It looked black because Stylist-san had dyed it black. Where was the confusion when we both pointed to the same sample of mid-brown hair and agreed that that was the best choice?

I looked at Stylist-san with fresh eyes. Why does he hate me so much? Why would he do this to me? When did it all go so horribly wrong for us?

I have nothing against black hair and in the past, have spent many happy years as a feisty blackhead. But now I am growing it and want to keep it my natural colour. I don’t think this is too much to ask, especially from a hairdresser.

To top it off, he cut a lot more off than I requested. Despite his look of outrage that I wanted as much as an inch cut off, he tripled that and hacked away. Now I look just like a Japanese with my straight black hair. If you discount my height, lily-white skin and blue eyes, I’d say I’ve assimilated quite well!

I left empty handed too -- no sake, no beer. Just his timetable indicating when he would be away on holidays. At least I now know when to return.


  1. Dear Gaijin Girl,
    I stubbled upon your blog totally by accident. No this is not one of those nasty online marketing things, I too am a gaijin Aussie girl, living and working in Tokyo as a translator in the communications industry. I couldnt get over how much it seems we have in common, that I find myself impulsively mailing you. Drop me a mail or check out my blog on blogger.

  2. blah! that is possibly one of the worst photos i have ever seen of myself.

    i wish i scrubbed up like posh...but alas, according to a co-worker, i now look like morticia (prob because i have had to pack on the makeup so i don't look completely washed out.)

    kudos for conquering the blog thing nic!

  3. You are soooo right about the ridiculously hot temperatures in salons (and every place else, for that matter)!

    What is it about the Japanese that they can't take cool temperatures? I find that I'm constantly sweating like a pig (do pigs actually sweat?) because everywhere I go is super-heated to at least 25-28 from around Oct. 1st. I've gone into department stores in January, when the temp's around -3 or so outside, and the heat's cranked up so much that it feels like a sauna.

    At work the Japanese staff and the foreign teachers are in constant battle with the themostat!

    I duck into restrooms in department stores and strip down to a single layer (unheard of in Japan!) and carry my castoffs in one of those large purses you hate! My assortment of small purses that I brought with me to Japan clutter my closet, unused. I need BIG! With no car to use to tote my stuff, I must pack it all with me in a handbag: umbrella, camera, makeup for touchups after sweating off everything on my way to work (in the summer) or after shopping in a super-heated store, PDA, keitai, wallet, glasses (reading and sunglasses), hand sanitizing lotion (to use after touching anything on a train), assortment of train guides/books for when I get lost or need something to read, etc., etc.