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With the plethora of hair salons dotted around Tokyo and their fame both inside Japan and abroad, it might come as a surprise that Japanese hair salons in their current form only arose relatively recently compared to other countries. Until the end of the Meiji period, many Japanese kept their hair long due to rules governing what you could actually do with your hair. Men sported a shaved forehead and a topknot, while women kept their mane long, and the main business as such was styling (and tying) rather than cutting.

After the laws were changed, hair salons slowly started to thrive and grew into a new industry, complete with qualifications and treatments that hadn’t been seen in Japan or even the East Asian region before. Nowadays, getting your hair done in Japan is not just about going for a quick trim – it’s a full-blown experience that you have to witness to believe. Curious? Here are our top reasons why you should really try a Japanese hair salon at least once.

 

1. Extra and delicate service

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 Japanese hair stylists will go the extra mile to make sure you’re taken care of. Services that would be seen as an add-on elsewhere are considered normal here, and special care is taken to ensure the customer feels at ease. Anything from a head massage during your shampoo (which is rather nice in itself…) to making sure the ambiance is just right, or offering complimentary tea and sweets, they’ve got you covered. They even do eyebrow services and more to make sure everything is tip-top when you leave the salon. Good service from the moment you step in until you leave is the norm, and at no extra cost – tipping is not a thing.

 

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2. Proven and qualified basic skills and cutting-edge techniques

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Not just basic vocational training is compulsory: Japanese hair stylist go through rigorous additional training for multiple years at a hair salon too, after which they need to take extra tests to fully qualify. There’s even a difference between the license for hair stylists and barbers, so rest assured that the person cutting your hair knows exactly what they’re doing. In addition to that, they have the ability to bring in the latest techniques and develop their own style. Vidal Sassoon revolutionized the way hair is cut in the UK, but the original technique didn’t suit Asian hair per se. Japanese hair stylists managed to adapt this technique to take away some of the thickness often seen with Asian hair, while still suiting the overall shape of the head. Besides this simple foundation, Japanese salons also offer the latest hair treatments, varied, new cutting techniques to bring the best out of your hair, while staying on top of the latest trends.

 

3. Diverse and specialized salons

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There are roughly 240,000 hair salons in Japan (2015). That is more than the number of convenience stores in the country (55,000 as of Feb. 2017) On top of that, there are some salons that are specialized in meeting your individual needs. There are salons that specialize in cutting, coloring, or just hair extension. The cost differs greatly according to your needs too. If you are looking for a quick trim, some salons cut your hair in 10 min for just 1,000 JPY, but if you are looking for something special, there are luxurious salons that cost more than 10,000 JPY. That would surely explain the diversity of hair salons in Japan. You’ll often find hair stylists sporting the latest Japanese hair trends, so whether you’re going for a Lolita style, gyaru, visual-kei or prefer something more simple, you’ll be able to find the place that suits your needs

 

4. Personal touch

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Unlike other countries, Japanese hair stylist will generally go the extra mile to make sure you’ll get exactly what you wanted. Specific questions before and during the cut are the norm. Through this constant communication, they will make sure that your hair will be literally perfect to the inch. Afterwards stylists will give you personalized, detailed advice on how to best care for your ‘do, such as how you should dry and set your hair, and recommend products and offering styling tips along the way. These suggestions are all personalized and depend on the type of hair you have.

 

5. Stylish salons and employees

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Working at a salon is virtually a lifestyle choice in Japan. Rather than having to stick to a plain uniform, many hair stylists have their own style and are proficient in cutting that way too. They take pride in being able to do so, and every salon has its own personality and characteristics for that reason. The stylists themselves are the ones who create the latest trends, and in fact, some people admire and even idolize charismatic stylists and their lifestyle.

 

6. Convenience

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Japanese hair salons often have long opening hours, which is great if you’re looking to get your hair done after work. Booking is very easy too, with many online booking services such as Hot Pepper Beauty, Rakuten Beauty and more available (in Japanese). They also tend to offer coupons for even better deals. If you’re looking for an English-speaking salon, try Tokyo Beauty Stars (www.tokyobeautystars.jp), a new service that lets you search for salons and book a place in English.

 

 

 

What these 6 points have in common is that they are all based on the Japanese idea of Omotenashi (hospitality). Yes, the word has become a bit of a cliché by now, but in the case of Japanese hair stylists, it still rings true. The dedication to always make sure that the customers are having the best experience possible is what this idea is all about, and they are doing exactly that.

 

Contributed by TOKYO BEAUTY STARS

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Tokyo Beauty Stars is a registered local Japanese company that specializes in introducing quality Japanese beauty services from top hair salons in Tokyo to tourists visiting Japan. We help tourists book the services with the hair salons.

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