Just popping down to the bar ber

I’ve been in Japan for 1.25 years, but to this day haven’t had a haircut on Japanese soil. I always wait until I’m in an English-speaking country. This, however, has relied on some fortuitous timing and luck, with a high tolerance of what has approached hippie-grade hair.

For me, a haircut is almost like going to the dentist. There’s nothing that feels quite so powerless as sitting in a chair, trussed up in one of those hair cape things, while some stranger goes to town on you with a razor. I don’t quite know how to say, “For the love of the almighty, stop!” in Japanese yet, and I figure this is a minimum requirement.

A foreign friend of mine here with much better Japanese fluency got a hair cut a while ago, and asked for a number 3. He came back looking like a Buddhist monk. At this point, I felt my fears were quite justified.

And that brings us to my local neighbourhood barber. I pass it almost every day:

Some of the trendy hair salons in my area – and there seems to be a lot of them – ask up to $40 for a basic scissor haircut. I’ve been conditioned to pay an absolute maximum of $20. My haircut takes about 10 minutes, and it’s nothing fancy. The directive is usually something like “Make it a bit shorter”.

But to save some money and pay $10, would I go to a “bar ber” that’s having a garage sale on haircuts? I imagine a card table in the driveway, the haircuts lined up in neat rows with prices scrawled on stickers with texta. All the good haircuts would be gone by 6:30am.

Results of my experiment next time! If you don’t hear from me, assume the worst: a somewhat bad haircut.

Radio silence

Yes, things have been a bit quiet here of late. A combination of travel and getting flattened by flu does not seem to aid writing. That, plus the fact that my aged Canon EOS 300D appears to have given up the ghost. So, it looks like it’s time to go camera shopping! The Sony Alpha-300 is looking good at the moment, and they’ve got some cashback dealy to boot.

Until then, something interesting from the other day. Although the Japanese pictograph system (kanji) is a terrible thing to learn how to pronounce correctly, divining the meaning out of a word can be fun sometimes.

Last week, I had a painful mouth ulcer and needed to go to a chemist to get some medicine. After some research so I’d know what to ask for, mouth ulcer turned out to be “kounaien” in Japanese. When you write it using kanji, it looks like this:


Breaking it down, each of these kanji are basic concepts:

Mouth, inside, fire

Now those were some characters I could definitely sympathise with. So much more descriptive than “ulcer”! There’s something to be said for pictographs after all.