japanese hairdressers travel japan

Haircuts in Harajuku

On the second day of our 2015 summer in Japan trip, I had an appointment with a hairdresser. Normally, I go to a Japanese hairdresser in Sydney (Shinka in Galeries Victoria) for haircuts and digital perms, which will set me back about $220AUD. Before the trip, I’d decided it was high time for a haircut as I was shedding crazy amounts of hair.

It was pouring down in Tokyo that day, and Michael and I left our AirBNB around 11am and caught the subway to Omote-Sando. The plethora of good food everywhere in Tokyo always makes it difficult for me to decide what to eat, and so we walked around for a little bit being indecisive before Michael finally put his foot down and chose a nondescript ramen place in an alley.

The thing with eating out in Japan is this: often, you will see a dingy/old shopfront or stall and dismiss it on the terms of food safety/health standards or that the food won’t be good. But very likely, it will be the most delicious gyoza/ramen/okonomiyaki/takoyaki etc. that you will ever eat. And this was the case with the ramen we ate that day. Okay, I’m exaggerating just a little here. The ramen we ate here today was amazing, but not the best. The best ramen I ever ate is still from the dingy stall outside JR Otsuka station.

eating in tokyo

Tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu ramen

All that only set us back less than 1000 yen.

After eating, the two of us walked around in the rain trying (and failing) to find the hairdresser. I had booked an appointment with a hairdresser that was a friend of my friend Kayano, and so we had been texting back and forth on Line (Asia’s Whatsapp). Since we were ridiculously lost, Shunpei came to pick us up in the pouring rain and took us to the hairdresser. We walked down a number of tiny laneways before reaching the hair salon, known as Corner Tokyo. Shunpei spoke little English, and this was the case with the other hairdressers there. Once we got there, Michael said that he wanted a haircut as well, and asked for the strangest cut they could give him. I tried to translate, but I think the hairdressers were hesitant to cut his hair in any strange styles, so he ended up with a shorter version of the same hair he had walked in with.

While Shunpei was doing my hair, we talked in broken Japanese and English. He said that he had moved to Tokyo from another place in Japan, and that he wanted more opportunities to speak English (as does everyone else in Japan). I got my hair cut and digitally permed at Corner Tokyo, which only cost me 9,000 yen (about $95 AUD). I was very happy with the price and the end result- I would have paid over $200 for the same thing in Sydney. We did a little bit of shopping in Omote Sando/Harajuku after that, before having lunch at a sushi train in the area (my days in Japan always seem to be centered around eating).

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After eating a little bit, we caught a train from Omote-Sando to Shinjuku and began our night in Golden Gai. The original plan had been to eat okonomiyaki at a place I had eaten at back in February, but as it wasn’t open yet, we ended up drinking at a bar in Golden Gai instead.

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Shortly after, Suvd, a Mongolian expat, came to join us, and the three of us chatted about our experiences in Japan.

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Before we knew it, it had gotten dark outside and we had spontaneously decided to continue drinking in Roppongi. We got a cab back to our apartment to get changed and then caught the subway to Roppongi. We ended up at Feria despite it being a Wednesday night. As expected, it was dead empty but we made a few new friends who coincidentally happened to be from Sydney as well.

After a few hours there, Michael said that he was going home and I decided to stay at the club for a bit. I hung out with my new friends before deciding to call it a night and went home in a cab. I came home to an empty apartment and figured that Michael had gone out with some of the people we met at the club instead of coming straight home. I didn’t think much of it and got ready for bed. I was literally about to go to sleep when I heard the door open and Michael tumble in, groaning. I went to the bathroom to ask him where he had gone, but then I saw that the front door was open and that there were four Japanese policemen standing there. I went outside and still being drunk, couldn’t understand anything they said. They definitely said something in Japanese though, and while I was laughing hysterically, they handed me his passport and left, probably cursing troublesome gaijins as they did.

When Michael finally came out of the bathroom, he looked like he had rolled in dirt. His words were: “I don’t want to talk about it.” Nights out in Tokyo are bound to do that to people.

 

 

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