This one’s for you Patti…
Three weeks here in Japan now. I knew I would have to get the hair done. My greys stand out and demand attention. My neighbor Lisa who is also new but has been here off and on since April recommended her place: Isolite.
First I walk in and people are offering me water or tea. They also want to take my purse so it will not impede my posture. Kazuki-San introduces himself and as we are “talking” he is touching my hair and examining his new specimen. A little strange, but right now everything is strange, so I am going with it. Then we sort of do the traditional nodding of the head and smiling bit and I am led to the back where another gentleman is the shampoo-er. I sit in a chair that reminds me of the Mercedes car seat and as soon as I sit, someone places a soft throw over my lap to keep me warm. Then the Shampoo Man (SM) very carefully arranges little towels around my neck and drapes me with a fancy cape and I assure you, there will be no water drippage. Not even on the face because before he starts the water, he puts something the size of 2 sheets of toilet paper on my face. Did not expect that. The shampoo which followed was probably the most thorough shampoo I have ever had in my life. Lisa had informed me that they give the best head massages and I’m thinking, she was right. This feels rigorous, but good. Once the SM finishes, I am undraped and seated at the Styling Chair. SM is responsible for re-draping me in the Styling Cape (different from the Shampoo Cape) and gives me a lap pillow to rest my hands. He then brushes my hair and preps it for the Head Stylist (HS). The HS arrives and he has an assistant. I hear “highlights” and I nod. The assistant brings a folding board with a bunch of colored hair swatches for me to pick from. Once we all know the plan, the coloring commences. There were no fewer than 3 people working on my head at one time. The whole time no one said anything and they were all so precise. After all the foils are done and I have sat sufficiently long enough under the mechanical halo I am un-caped and re-caped to get my second shampoo and rinse. Same as before, now my head is a little sore from so much stimulation. After the chemicals have been rinsed out of my hair, the SM kneels next to me holding 3 vials of scented oils and asks me which I like. I pick Lavender. We walk to the Styling Chair and THEN he commences with my head massage. This also includes beating my shoulders and back. When the HS returns he starts trimming my hair and then drying and when I see him whipping out the curling iron I tell him it isn’t necessary. At this point I feel like I am done. I get up and go to the counter. my bill is 18500 yen (approx $242.00).
The interesting thing about this whole experience is that everyone I meet who I share bits of my hairvisit with all seem to think this is the most fabulous thing and isn’t it wonderful. I don’t know if this is a culture shock moment for me or if I have been spoiled by my experience in Atlanta, but I literally felt nauseaus coming out of the salon. For over the last 6 years I have been seeing 1 person in Atlanta named Patti Howes for my hair. For the most part it has been in her very private single room single chair and single sink operation. I always knew it was something special, I just didn’t realize how special until I got here. It isn’t for everyone, I know, because some people like the drama of a hair salon and all the people milling about. Not me. My hair appoinment is my sanctuary where I relaxed and talked about my family, life, friends, got a little therapy and made a very special friend. I have already made an appointment with another salon hoping to find the compromise between here and there. I don’t think I will be able to find another Patti-San, but that’s probably not a realistic expectation. Friends are special, and when they become a part of your life like that you just have to consider yourself lucky.
All the walking I am doing has led to me having a VERY tight backside. I have actually practically given up real shoes and gone to sneakers most of the time. Despite that, my back is still aching so I scheduled a massage at the Tokyo American Club. Of course it is a beautiful facility. Of course they had candles and aromatherapy going. But when it comes to the massage, it was what I call a “resort massage”. Was it relaxing? yes. Was it disappointing? yes. My personal preference for a massage is something that is very painful and makes me question my own sanity. This was ok, but I will continue searching.
After finally getting my Alien card I was able to meet with Cliff at the CitiBank and finally get a supplementary card to the account. Just realize that this is a cash card ony. Not a debit card and not a credit card. Everything is such a process. Be aware.
Overall, 3 weeks in, I feel pretty good. Chase is thriving and loves his new school. I asked him what he liked so much about it and he said “I feel like I’m finally among my own people” so I’m thinking Asians? other blended kids? and he says, “Boys!” We got our furnishings on Friday and by Saturday, Cliff and I had stayed up to put most everything away. It is definitely nicer being surrounded by our things. I have to thank Michael for our layout and fabrics. I don’t know if it’s because we have been living like nomads for so long or what, but everything just looks so beautiful. I have quit pouting and am cooking or at least preparing breakfast and dinner again. I will start my exercise classes here soon (tomorrow I see a trainer and friday I will get nails done). I have also joined the Tokyo American Club Women’s group. They have excursions and classes that they offer and I plan to take some.
I had an interesting conversation today with someone about finding good Korean or Mexican food. It suddenly struck me why this “perfect” society seems to miss the mark on these types of cuisines. Korean, Mexican, Ethiopian, Soul food… these are all 3rd world foods with tremendous history and culture and not known for exactness of recipe. These are foods made with a little bit of this and little bit of that and when you translate that into a Japanese setting it all becomes sterile and meaningless. There are a lot of things the Japanese do that are incredibly well thought, planned and precise, but I have come to appreciate how some of the best flavors of life come from the spills and mistakes that occur.
I’m also putting in some random pictures I thought were fun that I was too tired to share before:
Here is a link to a video I took of Cliff eating dessert at a famous restaurant in Kyoto. I swear I’ve watched this thing 6 times and I pee myself almost everytime.
Until next time…