I wouldn’t leave the salon until I got her number. With a lot of time and little patience…BINGO! Shiori Yamano, 075-254-3434. Too bad it is on a red business card that gives me a 50% discount if I successfully get any of my gaijin buddies to utilize her skills as a stylist. Oh well…I can dream can’t I?
Located right above the 24-hour massage parlor called “Relaxing Hands,” which itself is located right above a Starbucks, is Hair & Make NY NY. The NY NY could very well stand for New York, New York; I wouldn’t put it past them.
I had made a reservation the afternoon before when I was turned down for my desired cut due to a lack of space. When I came back in the following day, I was directed to sit on a big white cylinder and wait for my stylist. I flipped through magazines, looking at all the different Japanese hairstyles. After looking through enough magazines and seeing people on the street, I now understand that all male Japanese hair styles are variations on one of three basic types.
1) Cousin It! - This is the style for the man who likes the occasional haircut once every three years. Taking a cue from everyone’s favorite walking Pantene Pro-V advertisement from the Addams Family, the Cousin It style involves growing a thick weeping willow of hair that dwarfs one’s eyes, ears, neck, and lower face. This hairstyle is almost always seen in the traditional Japanese black and is popular both with middle aged and elderly men. If you approach a male sporting the Cousin It style and wish to speak with them, they will almost certainly have to part their sea of hair with their hands while answering in order for the words to escape.
2) Freshly Ravaged! – This is the style for the man who likes to show up to any social event looking like he just exited a street fight in which a disgruntled drunk named Wataru tore out fistfuls of his hair. Unlike the Cousin It style, the Freshly Ravaged style may be treated auburn or blonde, so as to give the impression that you are not in fact a Japanese person, but rather a foreigner who has just had fistfuls of his hair torn out.
3) The Sky’s the Limit! – This is the style for the man who dreams to recreate the 10-foot tall vertical hairstyles from his favorite anime Dragon Ball Z. With The Sky’s the Limit, massive amounts of hair wax are applied to spike hair vertically into what most resembles a garden hedge, or glob and mold it together into a giant hardened pyramid shape.
Glancing at the patrons, their faces wrapped in towels like the invisible man, a burst of white light, then, Shiori - feathers from her angel wings fluttering down in the soft sunlight. I’ll get this out of the way right now; my hair stylist Shiori Amano was incredibly attractive by any means of comparison. I’d say she was in her mid 20s with longer auburn treated hair and an eclectic fashion utilizing the mother earth palette. She asked me how I wanted my hair and, sucking back in my dangling drool, I asked her to take it shorter and round it so it didn’t look like a cube.
Japanese haircuts give you two treatments of shampoo; one when you start, and one after they cut your hair. They lay a suffocating towel over your face during the shampoo treatment so as not to get your face wet. Another difference is in the method of haircutting. In America, my short cut would be exclusively done with buzz clippers - in Japan however, Shiori used only the scissors to cut and rip the hair, giving it a much more uneven, but stylish look. Thus, my hairstyle now most closely resembles number two on the above list, but since I have curly / wavy Jew hair when long, I can’t really recreate Japanese styles too well.
During both shampoo cycles, Shiori and I talked (sort of). I found it difficult to chit chat about the sites I had been to in Kyoto and my overseas studies with the water rushing in my ears and a towel over my face stifling my breathing. This didn’t stop Shiori’s barrage of kind-hearted questions though.
The cut itself was mostly a wonderful opportunity for me to stare at Shiori in the huge styling mirror. I was so enraptured by the tree bark brown sarong wrapped around her shapely hips that I almost inadvertently purchased the additional $10 eyebrow plucking treatment. I caught myself right as she was coming over with the tweezers, blurting out “I don’t need it!” like a patient suffering from Tourette’s. She frowned. She asked me if it was because of the money. I told her that because I always wear glasses, no one would be able to properly appreciate my shapely new brows. I lied – It was ALL about the money!
After my cut, the massage section commenced. It turns out that this would be an extra $20, bringing my grand total to $65 for the whole styling experience, but I would have gladly emptied my coin purse for the possibility of prolonging the experience of Shiori molding my face like modeler’s clay. I had a bit of trouble with the initial scalp massage due to the inclination of my chair. When my asthma wheeze kicked in, Shiori asked me with a worried tone if she was hurting me. I explained to her that it was just asthma and she seemed genuinely concerned. It was probably all an act.
After the scalp massage, Shiori showed me a container filled with a puffy white water and explained to me that this was all the dandruff and skin shavings from my scalp. She stopped before continuing the sales pitch with, “And for just three easy payments of 399 Yen you can…”
Next, an effeminate looking Japanese 20-something sporting Sky hair came over and pounded on my shoulders with his limp fists. This felt good and was over too soon. Before you could say “Would you like the optional ear cleaning treatment,” Shiori had raked wax into my hair and I was done.
I paid the bill and Shiori rode down with me in the elevator. I half assumed she was going to come home with me, but when the elevator doors opened, only I got out.
Gone like she came, my clipping angel, bathed in white light, gliding on the wind.