Just because something is expensive,

that doesn’t mean it’s overpriced.

One thing I liked about living in Korea was how cheap everything was (for the most part) – food, taxis, internet service, subways and haircuts.

Yes, haircuts.

Japan’s quite the opposite on most things, but at least with the haircut, I think it’s more than worth what I paid for it.As of next Tuesday, I’ll have been here two months. My last haircut was in Korea, so I was well overdue for a trim (or more). I asked my boss’ husband where a barbershop was, since I hadn’t seen any around the neighborhood. He told me which one he used, and where it was, so I went looking for it. I didn’t find it, but I did find a different one in the area he told me to go to.

Close enough.

The prices on the window seemed steep, but I needed a cut and figured I may as well get it done today. There were three prices listed – ¥2,000, ¥2,500 and ¥3.000. As I can’t read Japanese yet, I had no idea what the options were, so I figured I’d go in, get my cut and pay whatever they said. (The prices are roughly $18.25, $22.85 and $27.42.)

Now, I was used to paying 5000 Won for a cut in Korea (about $4.50), so I figured the prices in Japan would be a total rip – nothing but a lot of money for the same quick ‘n’ easy cut.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Initially, I thought all the money for the cut went towards the chair. The chairs in this shop were more advanced than the Captain’s chair on Star Trek. I walked towards it and the guy hit a button, making it pivot towards me. I sat down and was pivoted back to face the mirror. Silly, but spiffy.

I used the same technique as I had in Korea for explaining the cut I wanted. (I went with “the Kiefer” cut today.) The guy understood and went to work.

And he didn’t exactly rush things.

This has to be the most precise haircut I’ve ever gotten. This guy did everything with combs and scissors. No trimmers or clippers at all. He’d do one side, check it against the other, cut, check, cut, check, etc, etc… Definitely a professional barber and not some SuperCuts reject. What got me was when it was time to do my sideburns and the back of my neck. This is where every barber I’ve gone to before comes out with the trimmers and goes to town. Not this dude.

He used a straight razor.

Yes, a straight razor. I’m not kidding. He had one of those nifty hot foam machines and slathered a bit of that on my sideburns and neck. This was a first for me, but what the hell – life’s about new experiences, right? Again, he was Mr. Precision. A flick here, a flick there and he was trimming away. He went back to the side to side thing and there were times when I’d swear he was only shaving off one hair at a time.

I don’t think my sideburns have ever matched so exactly in my life.

Once all that was done, he asked if I wanted a shampoo. Sure, why not? I had to go meet somebody in about an hour, so I didn’t really have time to go home and do it myself. (Oh, I forgot to mention that when he finished my cut and the whole razor bit he went to town on my neck and shoulders with a bit of a massage. Nice touch!) The barber’s chair was odd as far as this part goes. Instead of leaning back like the chairs in America, you lean forward. Odd, but still functional.

After the shampoo, he asked if I wanted a shave. I’d just shaved a couple hours ago, so I declined. I wasn’t sure if he understood my “no,” as he leaned the chair back and got some more foam on his hand. I repeated my “no thanks” and he nodded, but pointed to his sideburns.

Ah, I guess mine weren’t quite perfect yet.

I leaned back and he lathered up my sideburns, then hit some other button on the magic chair. That one kicked in the lumbar massage.

Personally, I’d have thought massage and straight razors wouldn’t go together too well – but what do I know?

It seems they go together just fine. He touched up my sideburns, then raised up the chair (massage still going) to style my hair. Not much to styling short hair, really, so he just gave it a blowdry and made sure there were no errant bits of cut hair lying around. And with that, we were finished.

Total time: 35 minutes

I have never in my life had a haircut take that long, but I didn’t mind it one bit. I put my glasses back one, got my Kiefer pic back and paid for my cut. My total was ¥2,500, so that explained the cost breakdown to me:

¥2,000 – haircut
¥2,500 – haircut and shampoo
¥3.000 – haircut, shampoo and shave

I’m very happy with the results, and consider my ¥2,500 to be money well-spent. I’ll definitely be going back next time I’m due for a cut.

(No, there’s no pic to show off the results. I’m lazy and haven’t taken one yet. I expect you’ll be able to see it in some of the pics from tomorrow’s Halloween party, though, so keep your eyes peeled.)