Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nothing like a trip to the salon. (美容院に行くより、何もない。)

Well, you know what they say about how a new hair-cut can give you a major confidence boost?

I have now amended that saying.

Instead, it should be:

A trip to a Japanese salon can make your entire day amazing, spectacular, and downright stupendous.

Also, it can make you really giddily happy, even when you're technically lost in the wilderness of Mie with only a vague idea of where you should be going.

And to think I went into all this so nervous I was actually shaking in my seat.


Woke up this morning (a little late, I admit) and got ready for my day. Had some coffee, washed my face, surfed the internet, you know the drill.

Left the house around 11:50 for my 12:00 appointment. Because, literally, the place is five minutes away, and I didn't want to be that annoying customer who gets there way too early and bothers everyone by sitting and staring awkwardly.

...however, when I ran into traffic on the way (what the hell, Matusaka), I began to worry about being that annoying customer who gets there late and throws everyone's schedule off all day long.

Luckily, I got there in time, as my propensity for being everywhere early won out--my extra five minutes turned out to be the perfect amount of time, traffic and all.

I walked in, wielding the picture of my haircut and getting nervous because I am something of a chicken. Was greeted, of course, by a solid round of いらっしゃいませ's and walked up to the counter to tell the man that I had an appointment. Of course, at twelve, he replied, and offered to take my bag.

Really, so far, the only one freaking out about me being a gaijin was, well, me.

Which was why when they gave me a name card to fill out with my address, I was shaking quite badly and couldn't remember the kanji for 町. (Yea, that's pretty bad.) Stupidly couldn't remember 松阪 either, although that's been happening consistently since I've arrived, so no big surprise. I did remember 三重県,  外五曲 and the first half of 前沖, luckily, although the ultimate fail was when I couldn't remember my house number. When T-san, my stylist, asked what was wrong, I had to inform him of this, and he said that it was all right. I suppose I'll fix it next time.

Luckily, that did not injure my image in his eyes too badly.

How do I know this?

Because, as I mentioned, I had marked the "I want to have a good time with my stylist" (loosely translated) button on the reservation page, and goodness me, T-san believed me and launched right in, getting into this that and the other thing after we had discussed my desired style in great detail. (There was a bit of concern about the length; my hair was so long as to make him worry a little that I didn't know what I was getting into with the cut I wanted. I think he got over that when I told him I hadn't had a cut in about three months though.)

And the best part? It was not at all your typical gaijin-Japanese person talk. We had a surprisingly deep conversation, touching on topics such as foreigner politics in Japan, gun laws in America, and the acceptance of outsiders in our respective cultures (to name a few.) We even commented on how "deep" our conversation was getting; I told him to let me know if I started bothering him, but he insisted it was fine.

We had some light talk as well, mainly about how Japanese and American tastes are different, comparing Japanese and American women, and then, of course, getting into what we each thought about Japanese vs. American aesthetics.

There was also some commentary (positive) on my personal appearance, but I don't like to brag.

By the end, we had built up quite a camaraderie (though one or two of my jokes fell rather flat, as I really need to learn that English sarcasm just does not translate at all) and were calling each other by our nicknames (which we had both asked for early on.)

And honestly, it was so nice to be treated like a regular person with deep thoughts. (I mentioned that we talked about treatment of foreigners in Japan, right? I love talking about that, and I loved even more that he was willing to discuss it with me at length.) Admittedly, it might have been all that service-industry-kindness doing the work, but at the same time, he didn't have to be so chatty. It wasn't always me bringing up new points of conversation, after all.

Needless to say, I left completely and totally thrilled with the experience.

I especially like that T-san and the receptionist who handled my bill came out and watched until I left. This happens at bars too, but I don't know where else. Regardless, a very nice extra little touch that may be completely fabricated, but feels nice regardless.

Not to mention that now I have my point/members card, and will get 20% off next time I go. Ah ha HA.

...I need to figure out if it's within 6 weeks or after 6 weeks, though. Probably within.

Anyway, I decided to try and find a used clothes store shop on the way home that I had looked up earlier, and thus took a strange road home.

And got lost.

But hey, I was in a good mood, so I just kept driving and turning when I thought it might be appropriate, and eventually got back onto the road that takes me to work. I then drove into work, turned around, and went back to the supermarket which was supposed to be my landmark for the used clothing shop.

Then I missed my turn.

Good thing I was in such a good mood, eh?

I pulled into the supermarket, pulled back out and went back, making the turn I had meant to, and heading towards the "Advance Mall."

Which really isn't Advanced.

And although I never found the used clothing shop, I did find Honeys, which is one of the shops that has (a) clothes I like and (b) clothes that fit me more often than not.

So of course I wandered in.

And found a sale.

And after I picked up something like five items, a shop-keeper came over and offered me a basket.

And started chatting me up. (In a shop-keeper way, not a hitting on way.)

She asked how long I had been there, commented on how good my Japanese was, etc. etc. Eventually I got around to asking her where I could find a shirt I wanted that I had seen on the website, but could not find in the shop. After a lot of confusion about which shirt it was, she finally understood and ran off to get it for me. Unfortunately, they had neither my color or size, but she quickly offered to order it in from another shop, no charge and no problem if I didn't like it.


I tried on the clothes I had, and wound up liking three items, though I had limited myself to two. I took everything up to the counter, and asked for two of the items, and then if they thought that the third would be around in a month. Winning once again at shopkeeper awesomeness, they said they would hold the third shirt for me.


So I walked out with a skirt and shirt, and a shirt (now discounted unexpectedly) on the way, along with a ridiculously good chat boosting my mood.

Not to mention the left-over happiness from my haircut and T-san.

So. What do I have to say about my one day off this weekend?

Absolutely. Positively. Massively. Well spent.

Oh, yes.

This is Edo, signing off quite happy with life and feeling much warmer in general towards Matsusaka as a whole.

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