Getting a haircut in Japan

I have brown, wavy hair that I have spent most of my life not thinking much about. In high school and college I’d usually put it half up or into a ponytail and promptly forget about it for the rest of the day.

My hair didn’t particularly grab any portion of my attention until I moved to Japan and experienced the humidity here. Especially around the Tokyo area (with Kyoto being so much worse), the summers here are close relatives to the summers of Florida, where you walk outside and feel like you’re breathing in water more than air.

The humidity here means my hair enjoys going absolutely crazy with frizziness. I feel like almost as soon as I stepped off the plane at Narita Airport over a decade ago, the battle for better hair had begun.

The problem for me is that most hairstylists here have no idea what to do with my hair, and I not particularly caring for my hair had seen no reason to look into how to make it better.

Thus, when hairstylists here suggested layers and straightened my hair out, I didn’t even think about it.

All the while, my hair seemed to be getting worse, to the point it was starting to grab what I thought to be far too much of my attention.

I started doing what I should’ve done in high school, I suppose – I looked up how to care for slightly curly hair. My hair has the potential to become extremely curly if I had tools like a diffuser and proper mousse, but I don’t have time or patience for that, so I’m usually left with waves that end in curls.

I finally learned how to care for my hair (no fine-tooth combs, use a shirt to dry your hair rather than a towel, wash your hair less often during the week, try to air dry your hair if you can, use hair oil as often as you can, NO LAYERING).

Having learned what my hair needs, I started to really, deeply understand my problem with hairstylists here and their constant need to layer my hair since it’s so thick.

The search began for a hairsytlist who could actually cut my hair properly. I had finally found one, too, who said all the right things about what to do with my hair and who used a wide-tooth comb while combing my hair in the salon, but then she suddenly was moved to a different salon (or moved) and I haven’t seen her since.

I recently decided to commute to a hair salon fairly far from where I live just so I could have a hairsytlist who at least has cut different types of hair before, but even she seemed confused when I told her “No layering.”

“Are you sure?” she said, fine-tooth comb in hand. “Your hair is so thick.”

If anything, caring a bit more about my hair has meant I’ve learned to be firm about what I want in a salon. That still doesn’t stop a lot of stylists from trying to straighten my hair, though.

So, the search continues.