Monday, April 18, 2005

Need some pampering?

For a long time I put off going to a hair salon because I didn't speak Japanese and worried about how I would communicate what I wanted. Then I had a student who was a hair colorist for a salon right next door, so she said she would help me explain what I wanted to a hair "artist."

From the minute I walked into the salon I was treated like royalty! There to greet me at the door were six or seven technicians, stylists, appointment staff, and a shampoo girl (sorry, I don't know what else to call her).

I sat down in the waiting area until both the (English student) colorist and the artist appeared. From there I proceeded to explain what kind of cut I desired, and the colorist interpreted to the artist. This went on for about 20 minutes and then I was led to a locker and dressing room area where I slipped on a gown and stashed my purse.

The shampoo girl took me to the shampoo area and began her magic. I don't know exactly what all was involved because I soon went into an altered state of bliss and comfort. While American shampoo bowls are cold and rigid, this bowl was soft and warm and comfortable. For the next twenty minutes or so I was treated to the best shampoo of my life!

Now, I've gone to upscale salons before, and have paid lots of money to have my makeup ruined by sloppy shampooing. I've also had my head banged against the sink, and variously scalded or iced with water that wasn't delivered at the right temperature. Most of these shampoos have lasted, maybe a minute or two, tops.

Not in Japan. Here a customer is treated to the ultimate luxury. I had a shampoo that was pure pampering, and included water delivered at a perfect temperature and several head massages with each lathering. Then my head was gently towel blotted and my hair combed out in the gentlest manner. There was no wet hair flipped onto my face or comb ripping my ears off.

As I paid for my haircut (around $50), again a bevy of salon workers lined up to bow and thank me for my business. In almost all shops, restaurants and salons, employees accompany the customer to the door (carrying any packages for them), and thank them for their business.

All this stands in stark contrast to what I'm used to in the U.S. I'm feeling very pampered in Tokyo!


mmulibra said...

Keep up the good work in your blog.. nice to read your perspective about Japanese...

mike b said...

Nice blog

I have added your blog to my site. Also I have set up a new blog ring for expats in Asia--u can join here
regards Mike B