Any kind of people—fashionistas and I-don't-care-about-fashion-types alike—probably need to go to a hair salon sometimes. But to all of you, I recommend, to go through a hair salon experience in Japan. In fact, Japanese hair salons are very different in their quality and service compared to other countries. Recently, I interviewed two hair stylists who are popular among foreign visitors to Japan. Here are some of their answers that will make you want to go to a hair salon at least once in Japan.
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Q. According to foreign visitors or foreigners who live in Japan, Japanese hair salons are priced high, but they say they can get amazing service that they can't imagine in their home countries. What is it exactly about?
A. (hair stylist A) In Japan, it's normal that we offer something to drink, a shoulder massage and a shampoo washing after we cut their hair. You can choose whatever drinks from the menu, which has a wide variety, and during the shampoo washing, we do not only clean your head, but make you feel very comfortable. One of our customers felt so good and thought that I was giving her a head massage, which was in fact just a shampoo washing. In Japan, we frequently ask the customers if they feel really good, and they say that for them, these are all unexpected and surprising offers.
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Q. So there aren't any services like that abroad?
A. (hair stylist B) When I was in the U.S, hair stylists could decide everything about the customer's hair style. I mean, customers also rely on us. They don't require stylists to offer a kind service. In Japan, however, we stylists will hear from customers how exactly they want to change their hair styles. Also, Japanese hair stylists have skills that suit any kind of customer's requirements which sometimes require very difficult skills.
Q. So, why do so many foreign visitors come to a hair salon during their trip?
A. (A) It is well known in Asian countries that Japanese cutting skills are very high compared to other countries. I heard that some Japanese stylists opened their hair salons in Paris, France and got popular among local people. The industry of Japanese hair salons itself became famous in Europe. So, foreigners who come over to our salons want to experience the Japanese hair salon itself, it seems. Some people bring Japanese fashion magazines to show how they want to change their hair styles. Many foreign visitors come to our hair salon and got surprised at our high quality of services and skills.
Q. Is there any difficulty when you cut foreigners’ hair?
A. (B) The basic cutting skill is not so different wherever a customer is from. However, the quality of the hair is different in each region. Also, the frequency of cutting depends on person. It is also important whether they can maintain their hair style even after they go back to their home country where the temperature might be totally different from Japan. Wherever they are from, we have to keep in mind that we suggest and offer the best hair style which suits the person and their hair quality.
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Q. How do you communicate with foreign customers?
A. (A) I'm really happy about the fact many customers come to visit me although I don't speak any language except Japanese (laugh). To be honest, sometimes I feel anxious about it, but I try to offer a good service to them. I will suggest the best hair style to them and give an Omotenashi kindness (Japanese-style hospitality) at the same time.
(B)Well, I speak English with foreign visitors. Maybe for foreigners, to experience a hair salon in Japan would be a cultural gap, both in good and in bad ways. So, I always explain what kind of style I offer to them and how to keep their hair styles after they go back home. I hope a large variety of people spend a good time in a hair salon in Japan.