Jack's New Barber

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Even though I have little hair left, it does still grow and needs to be trimmed from time to time.

Having discussed haircuts with Kiyo and Robin before, I knew I was in for another, shall we say, "cultural" experience.

Ever since getting here, I've been checking out my prospective barber who is about six doors down the street from us. He and his wife always seem to have someone in their shop, it looks neat and tidy and like the sort of place I'd like to go for a haircut. And, to seal the matter, I've seen geigin in there so this guy must know some English and I'll be able to tell him exactly how I want the precious few hairs on my head to be cut.


As I walked in yesterday afternoon, there was no one in the shop except the barber and his wife. With wilting confidence I quickly discovered this man knew as much English as I know Japanese -- not much. At home, Otto, my barber, uses a 3.5mm attachment on his shaver to cut my hair. So, I figured this kind man would understand if I said san dot go millimeter. Wrong again and we were quickly off on the sign language route.

With not too much difficulty I was able to show him with my fingers how short I wanted it. With the hair that I've got, it doesn't take too much imagination to figure it out, so we were off and running.

But first a little hot towel on the head to soften up those bristly hairs of mine. It really felt good! And then my new friend and barber began to cut my hair - with a scissors - and one hair at a time. It took him at least twenty minutes. Heaven only knows how long it would have been had I the hair of my youth!

As he was trimming what must have been the last of my uncut hair, he instructed his wife to get out the mirror and I figured we were about done. I was given back my glasses and told to look at his work in the mirror. After rendering a positive verdict, I started to get up only to be held back making me realize things weren't quite done yet.

Out of nowhere his wife produced a sink that had been hidden in the counter and it was then I learned it was shampoo time. After two vigorous scrubbings that must have removed every bit of hair I had left, we were rinsed and patted dry.

Are we done yet? No way.

While the hair on the top of my head has thinned, hair growth around other parts seems to have accelerated. And so it was that an all out attack on my ears was next on the agenda, then my nose and finally my eye brows. My hair in and around my ears was not only cut, but the ears themselves shaved! An interesting sensation.

Well now he was running out of things to do but my barber surprised me yet again by wanting to put tonic on my hair. Now you know my hair isn't long enough to need tonic but he felt it did and he, of course, won. I did get him to hold back a little on quantity and then what followed was a delightful scalp massage. Then, after that, my neck and then my shoulders. Let me tell you, by then I was a pretty loose relaxed kind of guy!

But alas, now that I was thoroughly relaxed and really beginning to enjoy all of this pampering, it was over. Probably had something to do with that other customer arriving.

I left appreciatively, even after being relieved of 3,500 yen ($28) and will look forward to the next time. That is if my hair ever comes out of shock and starts to grow again.

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