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Monday, May 25, 2009

Japanese Hair Obsession

Amazing hair日本人髪の毛(のこだわり)

Japanese people take their hair very seriously.

From the samurai top knot to the geisha's elaborate wig, the bikers upswept locks of the 1960s to the beehives of today - a lot of time, energy, and money goes into hair care and presentation.

Case #1: The guy at right dozing on a train near Kyoto. He could be a pimp on his way to work in one of the red-light districts, or perhaps he is doing a post doc in physics at Kyoto University and off to attend an academic conference.

The wind tunnel look he is sporting is not cheap. At most salons, that alone would set him back about 10,000 yen ($100). The dye job would be extra.

Great hair, OsakaThe woman he is no doubt off to meet, at left, is our Case #2. She is at Osaka's Kyobashi Station. With her back to us - or rather her hair to us - she is sporting the classic neo-hostess look of overflowing, painstakingly mussed, and heavily dyed locks.

The man in the red happi coat does not have his hand stuck in her hair, though it could happen.

He is actually passing out free tissue packs; the young lady needs a few before heading off for an evening of pouring drinks and lighting cigarettes for middle-aged men at a hostess club.

Note the contrast between her beehive and the two tightly cropped men that bookend her head.

Estimated cost: 18,000 ($180) for the dye and weave.

Our final example, Case #3, is a bit more conservative.

The woman is waiting at Tsuruhashi Station, in Osaka, for the express train to the Pacific coast and its hot springs and inns.

Tight bun, Osaka train stationShe has a tight bun that is only slightly tinged with henna. It is neatly pinned and held back with a hairpiece.

Is she a company president meeting clients? A bored housewife off for a weekday dalliance with a company president? A salesperson for a major cosmetics firm? A post doc in physics at Kyoto University? A hair model?

Please submit your guesses.

Estimated cost: 6,000 yen ($60) for the dye job.

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