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The Situation

By the 7th week since my last haircut, I am badly in need of one. It only gets worse as the days go on.
What to do when you’re in a foreign country? I’ve had a few hair cutting experiences abroad that weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. With short hair I am well aware that not bad can take a turn to disastrous with just a few ill placed hand movements.

Japanese hair is heavy, thick and straight. Mine is fine and curly. That alone could be confusing to a hair stylist unfamiliar with the hair of a caucasian woman. How to communicate what you want? A possible problem as well.

With this in mind, I still felt confident when I asked my stylish Japanese friend if he could recommend anyone to cut my hair. He didn’t hesitate and within a day he had made an appointment for me. He insisted on coming with me and I didn’t argue. We met him at a train station about 15 minutes away. He led us through the small town for another 15 minutes until we arrived at a very small shop where the stylist was waiting by the door for us to arrive.

The Process

She smiled and laughed nervously. I smiled and laughed just a little nervously. My friend laughed loudly and my husband laughed as well. This round of laughter continued for several minutes until I took my seat in her chair.  Then, it was time to get down to business.

I used a hand gesture to show her how much hair to cut off. She seemed unsure. I showed her again with my hand, an approximation of a half an inch.

She began to cut with focus. I relaxed as I saw she was a pro. At some point when I thought she was done, I think she asked my friend if she had cut enough. He indicated that she should cut it shorter. Somehow my opinion didn’t seem to matter, because I wasn’t questioned.

She kept cutting. I looked at my husband’s face and saw a look of concern. Too late now to stop her, it all had to be shorter by this time.  One thing I’ve learned, it WILL grow.

My hair was cut dry, then shampooed followed by the best head massage I’ve ever had. I let her blow dry my hair out of curiosity to see what she’d do. I liked it.  My husband’s face still registered concern. My hair was VERY short! My friend was smiling. I smiled too and at last my stylist smiled too.  We both high fived.

The Outcome

It’s a great haircut. Next time I’m in Kyoto, I’ll definitely go back to her.  Maybe with a tape measure.

As far as I can tell, no one pays more attention to detail than the Japanese. The cut is precise and slick. Yes shorter than usual, but in two weeks it will be just about perfect. In the meantime, no hats, and the truth is, I’m liking it!

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Judi Miller Wallner says:

    Hey it’s great! Love it…shows off how “au courant” you are. One of the best haircuts I’ve ever had was with you in Japan! Sounds like you’re having so much fun. Keep the writing and the photos coming, Please!

  • devapnek says:

    Thanks! If you didn’t like it, I’d know I was deluding myself!

  • Mark dendy says:

    I love it. It shows off the face! And is very trendy right now. Good for you for experiment tank!

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