Like a Refined Kaiseki*Course,
Japanese Salons Offer a
People often choose Japanese establishments to enjoy Japanese services or offerings that they cannot receive or find anywhere else. For example, sushi restaurants serve sushi, Japanese language schools teach Japanese, and dojos offer Japanese martial arts classes. Though you might think Japanese hair and beauty care is not much different from what you might find in any salon, many people intentionally choose Japanese hair salons over others. To know why, we conducted an extensive survey of customers at eleven hair salons in New York. Here is what we found.
Advanced Techniques and Meticulous Care
You may have had an experience with meticulous Japanese craftsmanship or advanced technology that left you amazed. According to our survey, a similar thing can be said about Japanese hair and beauty services. We asked survey participants to give us comments and responses to questions such as, "Why did you choose a Japanese hair salon?" and "What aspects of a Japanese hair salon do you like?" Many mention the highly skilled hairstylists, saying, "cuts are very precise" and the "haircut looks good for a month." Customers also praise the "creativity of the stylists," pointing out that "Japanese hair salons have great hair cutting techniques (dry or wet), and they are extremely knowledgeable about chemical straightening."
The skills and techniques of Japanese stylists are so refined because of the thorough training programs for stylists. Traditionally the certification process for hairstylists in Japan is quite demanding and requires long hours of training and much practice. The stylist-to-be also has to pass strictly supervised exams. They are taught not only skills but also how to interact with customers. For example, washing the customer's hair does not just clean and prepare the hair for the next treatment; stylists in Japanese hair salons give a shiatsu (acupressure) massage to the customer's scalp to relax the customer during the shampooing process. Even after shampooing, a Japanese stylist usually gives an extra massage to the customer's shoulders and neck.
Meticulous attention to style, design, and personal care are other aspects customers love about Japanese salons. They like "attention to detail," "attention to personal needs," and the "very dedicated" and "friendly, courteous, and attentive staff." Also, many Asian customers rely on Japanese stylists because "they understand Asian hair and are very thorough." The hair types among Asians are quite similar, although they have individual differences. Asian hair tends to be thick, tough, and straight. So, it is very hard to create swinging, soft, and natural-looking curls. Japanese stylists, however, know how to create this look with a cut and styling or a perm.
Well-Developed Hair Products
Japanese customers care about how their hair feels as well as how it looks. In order to please such insatiable customers, Japanese manufacturers strive to develop products that meet both requirements: treating hair effectively and leaving it feeling good and healthy. It is analogous to Japanese chefs experimenting to create a perfect dish and Japanese engineers trying to invent new things and constantly improving on their creations. It's a never-ending effort, but because of it, we enjoy excellent hair products in the salon. Customers in New York have noticed the quality of these Japanese hair products, raving, "I love the nano amino product they use" and "I like my stylist, and the products!" Another customer notes that "all the chemicals they use never harm the hair, and they recommend a good conditioner for treatment as well."
Everyday care products made in Japan, such as nourishing creams, moisturizers, styling wax, gels, and sprays, are also superb. Modestly scented, formulated for a variety of hair types and use, and easy on the hair, consumer hair products from Japan will never disappoint you. Most of these are not available in stores, but you can find selected items at Japanese hair salons.
Omotenashi Spirit in Beauty Services
Many survey participants comment that they also appreciate the atmosphere in Japanese salons as well as the attitude toward customers. As mentioned above, shiatsu massage service is common, and most salons also provide customers with drinks while they wait for service or during treatments. Here are just a few examples of what customers like: "cleanliness, quiet, and a relaxing atmosphere," the "peaceful environment," the "friendliness," that the salon is "not pretentious," the "quiet, pleasant staff," and being "treated very respectfully." One participant finds a visit to the salon to be a Zen-like experience, saying, "I love the calm atmosphere and minimal design." These services all come from the Japanese spirit of omotenashi (hospitality) that has been passed down for ages. With service inspired by omotenashi, customers are always given something extra or unexpected. As long as Japanese salons do not lose this spirit, you can enjoy a pampering experience as memorable as an exquisite dinner course.
*Kaiseki means a refined course of dishes originally created for tea ceremonies. The course is carefully crafted to represent seasonality and orchestrate different flavors.
How Does the Japanese Straightening Perm Work?
The Japanese straightening perm has existed in this country for more than twenty years, so we here at Chopsticks NY assumed it was well known in New York. This survey, however, has revealed that there are quite a few people who do not really know what it is and how it works.
Also called "thermal reconditioning," the Japanese straightening perm involves heat to restructure the shape of the hair. First, a special solution is applied to the hair to soften it, making it easier to reshape. Then, the bonds of the hair are restructured as the hair is straightened by a thermal iron steamer. The entire treatment takes almost six hours, but it results in hair that is not only straight but also glossy and smooth. The effect is semipermanent, but it is recommended that you retouch newly grown hair every six months.
Salons where we conducted the survey
*in alphabetical order
137 W. 19th St., (bet. 6th & 7th Aves.)
New York, NY 10011
TEL: 212-367-2123 /
149 Avenue A, (bet. 9th & 10th Sts.)
New York, NY 10009
TEL: 212-777-5252 /
208 E. 60th St., (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
New York, NY 10022
TEL: 212-752-9229 /
15 E. 12th St., 2nd Fl., (bet. 5th St. & University Pl.)
New York, NY 10003
TEL: 212-414-4488 / www.kiyorasalon.com
805 3rd Ave., 2nd Fl., (bet. 49th & 50th Sts.)
New York, NY 10022
TEL: 212-644-8058 /
156 Sullivan St., (bet. W. Houston & Prince Sts.)
New York, NY 10012
TEL: 646-484-6033 /
10 Rockefeller Plaza, Concourse Level
New York, NY 10020
TEL: 212-664-0664 /
Shige Kosuda Salon
141 E. 55th St.,(bet. 3rd & Lexington Aves.)
New York, NY 10022
TEL: 212-759-2397 /
Tomoko Shima Hair Salon
(Upper East Side)
171 E. 92nd St., (bet. 3rd & Lexington Aves.)
New York, NY 10128
235 W. 14th St., (bet. 7th & 8th Aves.), New York, NY 10011
225 E. 5th St. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
New York, NY 10003
TEL: 212-529-0355 /
323 W. 11th St., (bet. Greenwich & Washington Sts.)
New York, NY 10014
TEL: 212-647-9303 /