Tuesday, October 23, 2007


If you're ever looking for a 'ten minute haircut', I know just the place.

I've noticed these little venues a few times at various places in and around Tokyo. Little barber shops, essentially, usually embedded in the heart of a train station. The other day I was bopping back from picking up a couple of used books, and I was rushing through Ikebukoro Station -- me and ten, fifteen thousand other people -- and I saw one. One of the 'ten minute haircut' places. And me, not being particularly concerned about the latest style, the newest trend, the most current and happening hair-related fashions, figured 'fuck it'. Why not give it a shot.

What you do is, once you've wandered inside, and the automatic doors have done their opening-and-closing routine, you buy a ticket. That's right, a ticket. You put your thousand yen into the machine (roughly ten bucks), and out pops a ticket, and down you sit, and you wait.

There were two stylists, one male, one female, both in their twenties. They were hard at work on people's heads. Their motions seemed to be synchronized, these two. They finished at the same time. Took out a small mirror to show the customer the back of the head at the same time. Almost even bowed at the same time.

And then they both took out a vacuum hose and vacuumed their client's head.

Is this normal?

Is this usually done?

Do other salons, classy salons, non-ten-minute salons in other countries vacuum people's heads? I'm just wondering.

And I don't mean that it was an elegant, expensive hair dryer that had a suction cup nestled delicately on the tip; I mean it was a vacuum hose, and they vacuumed the person's head.

Soon it was my turn.

My bag was on the floor, by my chair, but the stylist motioned me to put it into the cabinet in front of the barber chair. Of course. There was a space provided. I took off my classes and placed them in a plastic case. Of course. There was a case provided. I told her how I wanted my head to look. She politely nodded and got to work.

Ten minutes later, precisely, I was done.

She took out another vacuum hose, different than the one that had moments before suffocated (but not unpleasantly) my head, and all of my hacked-away brown hair, which lay haphazardly decorating the white pristine floor, was suddenly sucked away into a whole in the side of the wall.

And that was that.

Sides clipped. Back snipped. Front closely trimmed.

And my whole head, of course, vacuumed.

In ten minutes.

How does it look?

Well, not much different actually.

By the end of the cut I was thinking: Ten minutes doesn't quite cut it. (So to speak.) I wanted it a little shorter at the back, a little closer cut on top.

But hey.

My ten minutes were up.