Last week I took a big leap. Mainly because I was desperate and fed up but it was a risky move for this hair scared girl. I went and saw a Japanese hair stylist to cut and color my hair. Normally for the first ‘meeting’ with a new stylist, I’ll have them cut it only and make them straighten it so I can see every last bit of my hair in case they need to fix it.
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I’ve been known to make many stylists fix my hair after they thought they were done. I’m not in the habit to walk out unhappy… unless of course we discuss the time back in November, but that was an extreme case of ‘the more it was “fixed” the more it got worse.’ Any way, I’m happy to say, it’s been growing back quickly, and November was just a blur now.
My desperate measure came after G-man and I went out to dinner and my bangs that hadn’t been touched since the beginning of December were flat in my eyes. Most annoying thing ever (in the hair department). Oh, I take that back and add incredibly obvious gray roots to the top of that list…and head. har har
Most of you (just about all) didn’t know that I was expected to go back to the states last week, but as is typical, I canceled my flight to stay here through cherry blossom season. Japan is known for their cherry blossoms and the idea that I would have missed it is deplorable. Staying meant though, that I wouldn’t get my hair cut like I planned. After a quick search for my area, I came across a Japanese stylist who spoke English (major bonus) and used to cut hair in California and New York (extra bonus), and she was only 30 minutes away by train (that was high five worthy). I called, made the appointment for the next day and was ready to dive in.
It ended up raining all day that day, but I wasn’t deterred from getting my hair done. In fact, it made for a one-on-one experience in the salon which was quite nice. And let me tell you, this was the best experience I’ve ever had in a salon to date. The service was unmatched and you’ll soon see why.
I was greeted by Ana, her assistant and after she took my coat, scarf, and umbrella to hang, led me to the chair. After taking pictures of my “before”, she prepared me for Yoshiko, the stylist. From there, we spent the next forty minutes discussing the cut and color I wanted with pictures, color books, magazines and explanations, before fully feeling like we understood each other. Yoshiko spoke English, though it was still very thick with a Japanese accent, so we made sure we were both on the same page before she even came close with scissors. She cut my hair dry and once done, began coloring. But before she did, they placed ear muffs on my ears to keep the color from getting on them. Imagine mini shower caps on my ears. Raise of hands how many times a colorist got color all over your ears? I thought it was such a smart idea. After the heater was put over me, Ana came back with a list of beverages to choose from and after choosing hot tea, she left me alone until the timer went off.
Immediately, Ana brought me to the shampoo station where she spent the next 25 minutes washing and massaging my head. 25 minutes! But what was impressive was she placed a light washcloth over my face to protect me from splatters. (I can’t tell you how many countless times I get soaked because the person is carelessly splashing water all over my face.) Throughout she gave the best scalp massage I’ve ever had, and when I thought she was winding down, she lifted my head up, and placed a hot rolled up towel under my neck to soothe my neck muscles as she continued to massage my head. I almost stood up to hug her right then and there. A few minutes more of washing and massaging, she sat me up but told me to stay seated. She then began patting my hair dry with the towel, and continued to do so until it was no longer dripping wet. Do I need to ask how many of you are told to get up and walk back to your chair with sopping wet hair? This was the first time it was ever thoughtfully dried before I moved.
It was obvious to me at that point the attentiveness was beyond anything I ever experienced. Ana led me back to my chair and immediately began massaging my neck. She just spent 25 minutes on my head, and now she’s doing my neck! This woman, I love. She moves to my shoulders, and then lightly pushes me forward and massages my entire back! I did everything possible to keep a blank face like this was a normal experience, but I was freaking out inside over this treatment. >clearly easily pleases< She continues massaging my neck, shoulders, back and eventually moves to my hands and arms as Yoshiko comes back to look over my hair. Ana keeps massaging as Yoshiko and I talk things over. I just want to close my eyes and enjoy everything at that moment.
Soon they began drying my hair. Did you catch the “they”? Both of them; one on each side with dryers, worked on my hair. At that point, I had to begin documenting, and not so discreetly took a picture.
As Yoshiko begins styling it, Ana becomes her accessories. Yoshiko doesn’t use clips for the hair; she uses Ana to hold the hair. Ana is there for whatever Yoshiko wants of her.
Finally, everything is complete. I’m beyond pleased with the result and happily pay. It was a little expensive, but the beauty of Japan (and I’ve been meaning to write a post on this) is you don’t tip. So I paid a flat rate with no pressure, and after they pointed me to the bus stop, I merrily walked back into the rain.
Taking a chance with a Japanese salon was risky, but my hair is so much happier for it. And what’s amazing is they could have given me the worst haircut ever, but I would still have raved over them because of their customer service. It’s a wonder to me, salons in America (or at least the many I’ve been to) don’t take the thoughtful approach and time out for their customers. I know we can get into the fact they rent spaces, and this and that and how it’s so expensive for them, yet, giving your client that extra special treatment goes much further beyond the dollar. Or at least this client thinks so. And because of that, I now proudly add Afrodita in Yokohama, Japan to my list of salons to frequent.