The Complete Guide to Japanese Hair Salons

When it comes to quality and service, Japanese hair salons are reputed to be some of the best in the world. However, the language barrier can make it daunting for many. That’s where this complete guide to Japanese hair salons comes in handy. Filled with tons of tips from Kusada, the owner of grass OMOTESANDO – a popular salon that even has celebrities and models as guests – this guide will be the only thing you need to navigate through a visit to a Japanese hair salon!

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Travel Tips

Entering the Salon

・Reservations are essential!

You normally need to make an appointment to visit a hair salon in Japan. The method depends on the salon, but most people do so through email, over the phone, or through a beauty listing website like HOT PEPPER Beauty (Japanese only, registration required). You can also request for a particular stylist when making a reservation, but it might cost extra.

Some hair salons can provide their services in foreign languages like English or Chinese, but most of them can only speak Japanese. The phrases in the following article are everything that you will need to get past this language barrier, so check them out!

Communicating at a Japanese Hair Salon: How to Get the Hairstyle You Want

・If you have a reservation, just say your name to check in.

If you have an appointment, all you have to do is say “____ kara yoyaku shiteiru _____ desu" (My name is _____ and I have a reservation from _____) to check in.

Most hair salons are happy to store your hand luggage or coat, but they might not have the space for large things, so please avoid bringing large items.

・If you don't have a reservation...

There are salons that are happy to provide their services to sudden drop-ins, but many popular salons might already be fully booked. Even if they do accept drop-ins, you might have to wait a long time for your turn, so please try not to visit without an appointment.

If you desperately want to drop by without an appointment anyway, use the following phrases to ask if the salon can take you on:

 

Q: Sumimasen, yoyaku wa shiteimasen ga, ima kara daijobu desu ka?
Q: Excuse me. I don't have a booking, but is it possible to come in now?

A: Kakunin shimasu no de, shoushou o-machi itadakemasu ka?
A: I'll go and check, so please wait a moment.

→ Hai, wakarimashita.
→ Alright.

 

A: Hai, daijobu desu yo. Sugu ni iremasu.
A: Yes, it's fine. We can accommodate you.

 

A: Hai, daijobu desu ga, sukoshi o-machi itadaite mo yoroshii desho ka? / Hai, daijobu desu ga, kanari o-machi itadakimasu ga, yoroshii desho ka...?
A: Yes, it's fine, but you'll have to wait a bit. Is that okay? / Yes, it's fine, but you'll have to wait for quite a while. Is that alright?

→ Hai, daijobu desu.
→ Yes, it's fine.

→ Dorekurai machimasu ka?
→ How long would I have to wait?

 

A: 3-jikan hodo o-machi itadakimasu ga...
A: Around 3 hours...

→ De wa, kekko desu. Arigatogozaimasu.
→ I'll give up then. Thank you!

 

A: Moshi wake gozaimasen, yoyaku de ippai de chotto muzukashii desu ne...
A: We're so sorry, but our bookings are full today...

→ Wakarimashita. Arigatogozaimasu.
→ That's okay. Thank you!

・Can't speak Japanese?

If you learn the phrases from this article and the previously linked page, you should know enough to smoothly communicate in any Japanese hair salon. However, if you just can’t remember them or you don’t feel confident speaking in Japanese, it’s recommended to use a portable translation device like POKETALK. In real time, it will translate what you’re saying into Japanese, and translate whatever the stylist says into your language!

The creators of POKETALK have generously agreed to give a special discount to all of our readers. Thanks to popular demand, it has been further discounted (until July 31, 2018), so do check it out!

[With Reader's Discount!] Visiting Japan? Rent Portable Translation and Wi-Fi Devices for Cheap!

Checking the Salon Menu

・If you have a booking...

Usually, you will be asked for what service you want – cut, color, perm, hair treatment, and so on – when you book an appointment. All you need to do on the actual day is just confirm your order.

If you didn’t ask for anything when making a booking, then discuss what you’d like from the salon menu with your stylist.

・If you don't have a reservation...

If you haven’t made a booking, tell the stylist what you want done, whether that be only a haircut, a haircut and treatment, a haircut and perm, etc.

Go to the following page to find a bunch of phrases that will help you order what you want:

Communicating at a Japanese Hair Salon: How to Get the Hairstyle You Want

Giving Instructions (Haircut)

・Length

When you ask for a haircut, you’ll normally be asked how short you want your hair to be.

It’s easier if you use something like your hand to show just how short you actually want your hair to be.

Also, here are a few handy phrases that’ll help you in the process:

 

Q: Kyou, katto no ushiro no nagasa wa dorekurai kiraremasu ka?
Q: How short would you like your hair to be cut today?

 

A: Kono hen made onegaishimasu.
A: Until around here, please.

 

A: Kesaki wo soroeru kurai de onegaishimasu.
A: Just enough so that the ends are uniform, please.

 

When shop staff say “Hai, shochi itashimashita”, what they mean is “Understood”.
If you can remember the meaning, then you’ll know if the shop staff actually understood your request.

 

・Layers

You'll frequently get asked if you want your hair layered, so please try to remember the following phrases! They'll come in extremely handy.

 

Q: Kyou, kami no reiya wo iremasuka?
Q: Would you like your hair to be layered?

 

A: Hai, irete kudasai.
A: Yes, please.

 

A: Nashi de onegaishimasu.
A: No thanks.

 

・Bangs

You’ll also get asked how long you want your bangs to be. Similarly to the rest of your hair, use something like your hand to show them the exact length you want.

 

Q: Maegami wa dou shimasu ka?
Q: What about your bangs?

 

A: Kono hen de onegaishimasu.
A: I'd like them to be about here, please.

 

A: Nagame de onegaishimasu.
A: Please make them long.

 

A: Nagame de nagareru you ni shite kudasai.
A: I’d like them kind of long and side-swept, please.

 

When giving instructions for anything, it’s better if you show photo examples. This is especially true if you have an intricate order. Feel free to use the magazines lying around the salon or pictures on your phone that you picked out prior to arriving! Choose images that look close to what you’re looking for.

Giving Instructions (Perms)

・Perms

You’ll often first get asked if you’ve ever done a perm before. Depending on that, the stylist will act differently, so be sure to tell them properly. Similarly with the haircut, showing a photo from something like a magazine that looks close to what you envision will help get your point across.

 

Q: Pa-ma wa ima made shita koto, arimasu ka?
Q: Have you ever permed your hair before?

 

<If You Have Experience>

A: Hai, arimasu.
A: Yes, I have.

Q: Kyou wa donna kanji ga yoroshii desu ka?
Q: How would you like it done today?

A: Konna kanji de onegaishimasu.
(Show them a photo of what you want!)

A: Like this, please.

 

<If You Don't Have Experience>

A: Iie, nai desu.
A: No, I haven't.

Q: A, hajimete desu ne. Konna kanji de dou desu ka?
(Assuming they show you a photo of what they're thinking of!)

Q: Ah, so it's your first time! How about something like this?

A: Hai, konna kanji de onegaishimasu.
A: That looks good.

A: Chotto chigaimasu. Konna kanji de onegaishimasu.
(Show them a photo of what you want!)

A: I kind of want something else. Like this, please.

 

The final result will change depending on what you tell them, so have a firm image of what perm you want!

Giving Instructions (Hair Coloring)

・Hair Coloring

If you want your hair colored, you’ll normally be shown a hair color sample chart, so pick whatever matches what you’re looking for the most.

Some types of hair can’t be colored. If you think you have that type of hair, please mention that when making an appointment or with the hair stylist on the actual day.

 

Q: Kyou no kara no akarusa to iromi wa dou saremasu ka?
Q: What color and shade would you like your hair to be?

A: Kore kurai de onegaishimasu.
A: Something like this, please.

 

<Asking If Your Hair Can Be Colored (When Booking)>

Q: Sumimasen, kara wo onegaishitai no desu ga, kinpatsu demo daijobu desho ka?
Q: Excuse me, I'd like to dye my hair, but can you do blonde hair?

A: Hai, daijobu desu.
A: Yes, we can.

A: Moshi wake gozaimasen, touten de wa taiou dekimasen.
A: We're extremely sorry, but we can't help you.

 

*In general, "moshi wake gozaimasen" refers to "no". It is used extremely often, so please try to memorize it.

 

[Hair Color Vocabulary]

blond hair: 金髪 (きんぱつ, kinpatsu)

red hair: 赤毛 (あかげ, akage)

brown hair: 茶髪 (ちゃぱつ, chapatsu)

black hair: 黒髪 (くろかみ, kuropatsu)

Important Points to Remember

・Show Example Images

If you use photos to explain what exactly you want, you’re more likely to get a better result than just using words. Pick out photos that best match what you’re looking for from the magazines laying around the salon or search up images on your phone prior to your appointment. Show it to the stylist and they’ll be able to work their magic!

Giving Instructions (Hair Treatment)

・Treatment

The hair treatments at Japanese salons have become well-known for their amazing effects. It’s well-worth getting them! However, note that salons may have a variety of treatments with different levels of effects.

Also, depending on the type of hair you have, some treatments may not work. This is something that you’ll need to discuss with the stylist.

 

Q: Tori-tomento wa dou saremasu ka?
Q: Would you like a hair treatment?

 

A: Hai, onegaishimasu.
A: Yes, please.

 

A: Iie, daijobu desu.
A: No thanks.

 

<Asking If The Treatment Is OK For Your Hair>

Q: Watashi no kamishitsu ni, kono o-mise no tori-tomento wa aimasu ka?
Q: Will this treatment be alright for my hair?

 

A: Hai, daijobu da to omoimasu.
A: Yes, it should be fine.

→ De wa, onegaishimasu.
→ Then let's begin!

 

A: U-n, muzukashii kamoshirenai desu ne... / Iya, awanai kamoshirenai desu ne...
A: Hmm, it might not work on you... / No, it probably wouldn't work on you...

→ Wakarimashita. De wa, kekko desu.
→ Alright. In that case, I'll skip it.

 

Giving Instructions (Shampoo)

Getting Led to the Shampoo Station

At most Japanese hair salons, the shampoo station is in another area. The staff will lead you there, so just follow them.

 

・De wa, korekara shanpu dai ni go-annai itashimasu.
・Alright, now I'll lead you to the shampoo station.

 

Q: O-yu kagen wa daijobu desu ka?
Q: Is the water temperature alright?

 

A: Chodo ii desu.
A: It's just right.

 

A: Chotto tsumetai desu. / Chotto atsui desu.
A: It's a little cold. / It's a little too hot.


→ Hai, kashikomarimashita. Sukoshi ondo agemasu ne. / Moshi wake gozaimasen, ondo sagemasu ne.
→ Okay, I'll make it a little hotter then. / Sorry, I'll lower the heat then.

 

→ Yoroshii desu ka? / Ikaga desu ka?
→ Is this alright? / What do you think?

 

A: Hai, chodo ii desu.
A: Yes, perfect.

 

Q: Kayui tokoro wa arimasu ka?
Q: Does it itch anywhere?

 

A: Daijobu desu.
A: It's okay.

 

A: Chotto atama ga kayui no de, kaite mo ii desu ka?
A: The top is a bit itchy, so could you please scratch it?

 

If you have any itchy spots, ask “Sumimasen, kayui basho ga aru no de kaite mo ii desu ka?” (Sorry, but a part of me itches, so can I scratch it?) before scratching it or letting them scratch for you.

Tips to Remember

Double-checking Your Haircut Instructions

Some salons may double-check all your instructions before actually doing them.

 

Q: Ja, korekurai no nagasa de daijobu desu ka?
Q: So, you want your hair to be around this short?

 

A: Hai, onegaishimasu.
A: Yes, please.

 

A: Iie, motto mijikaku / nagaku. Kono hen de onegaishimasu.
(Make sure to gesture to the length with your hand!)

A: No, shorter / longer. Around here, please.

 

Final Check

・They'll do a final check, so tell them if it's OK or not!

When both your haircut and blow-dry are done, the stylist will do a final check on the overall result. They’ll hold a mirror so you can see your hair at various angles, so check everything properly and tell them immediately if there are any parts that you’d like adjusted.

 

Q: Shiagari, daijobu desu ka?
Q: What do you think about the finished look?

 

A: Daijobu desu.
A: It’s good.

 

A: Ushirogami wo mou sukoshi kitte moraemasu ka?
A: Can you make the back a little shorter?

 

A: Mou sukoshi karuku shite moraemasu ka?
A: Can you thin it out a little more?

 

A: Mou sukoshi maegami wo kitte moraemasu ka?
A: Can you make the bangs a little shorter?

 

Before and After Shots

・Before

・After

This is the magic of Japanese hair salons. Shorter hair has always been difficult to style, but Japanese hair stylists are experts at it. Who knew that some trimming and light curling would result in such a fabulous look? It makes her look a lot younger and frames the face nicely. Of course, Japanese hair stylists can rock long hair, too!

grass OMOTESANDO

3 minutes on foot from Omote-sando Station, the staff at this hair salon are experts at all sorts of perms – such as digital and air wave perms – as well as haircuts that frame the face well. They also offer other services like hair coloring using henna or organic hair dyes. They cater to all genders, so if you want to look stylish, feel free to visit!

*Bookings are not currently being accepted

*Please send any inquries or booking requests that you have for Kusada via direct message through: https://www.instagram.com/kusada_toshi/

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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