A Really Close Shave...
By the Skin of My Head
I've been shaving my head for the past 15 years. It is a chore, but I've gotten used to it. It sometimes grows a bit, during camps and sometimes during long holidays like Golden Week. But basically, I'm a skinhead. I love the feeling of cold water splashing on top during the summer months. It hooked me the first time I did it, lured by a dare. Just like the green Mohawk I sported in my 20s. And my black cross pierced ear.
But having started shaving my head in 2000, I do it in the bath (Japanese style) every few days. It takes around 30 minutes, including the facial shave. I haven't been to a barber since around 2000. I thought about it now and then, but I never got around to growing my hair long enough to go to a barber.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was told about barbers in Japan that have made shaving a specialty. Hmmm, sounded quite interesting. Gotta find out more.
I knew that barbers in Japan do shaves. Often with a straight razor - old style. They are also known for giving massages. More on that later.
Turns out, that now, as there are fewer young people and more of them are going to beauty salons where the cutting of hair is thought to be much more stylish, barbers are pushing their services in shaving and massage to a new level.
Many are offering services catering to women. Especially before weddings, many women are starting to have their necks and backs shaved. I never liked the idea of epilier (pulling out hairs), so that sounded interesting.
I was told that I should give a try to a barber is known as much for its shaving as cutting hair. That sounded excellent.
I got an appointment at Hiro Ginza. The shop has 10 stores, including three in the GInza area. The one I went to is in Higashi Ginza, next to the Cozy Corner, near the Apple Store Ginza. I went there, in anticipation, excited about going to a barber after so many years.
The first surprise comes immediately. It's a private room. Wood paneling is on the walls. It feels nothing like any barber I've been to. My barber, Ryousuke Itou, has been waiting for my arrival. They take my jacket and briefcase.
Since I'm there to be shaven, not have my hair cut, they have hot towels ready. My head is wrapped. It is warm and moist - like a personal sauna. I feel relaxed and pampered. I get sleepy. Then, some kind of foam on my head and then the razor. It's not a straight razor, but the blade is smooth. Ryousuke is no novice. He's young, for sure, and he's probably not the top guy here, but his hands are steady, sure, experienced. I have no fear or discomfort.
The shaving goes smoothly and quickly. Head, then face. After that, a shampoo. I hadn't given that a thought, but I realize that the hair needs to be washed off. It's not like shaving in the bath. And without shampoo, the small hairs just stick to the skin. So I get the cool menthol shampoo. Even with warm water, it feels like the splash in the summer.
Then, after towel drying my head, the massage starts. Again, it starts with the head, then the face, and finally the head again. I feel relaxed. Comfortable. Sleepy.
I didn't fall asleep. I was talking a lot. Asking questions. Research for this article.
The salon has a lot of female patrons. Sometimes, the percentage is fairly significant. During the peak wedding seasons - spring to fall - it can be as high as around 30%. Most of their male patrons visit to cut their hair, of course, but some are attracted to their shaving service. The private rooms are important for many of their guests - especially the women.
Hiro Ginza has 10 shops, as i wrote earlier. Three of the shops are in Ginza. Two are in Shimbashi. The other shops are in Tamachi, Kanda, and Hamamatsucho. They also have two Premium Shops, a bit more expensive, but with nicer services, I hear. They must be special, because Hiro Ginza was wonderful. I didn't know what to expect, but that was a wonderful way to have my face and head cleaned.
I think what made it best was the complete lack of concern I could have during that hour or so. Shaving usually is all about concentration. You cant just, "let it happen." Whether it's with a blade or an electric shaver (I prefer the latter), it is still very easy to cut yourself. You have to pay attention to the angles (and your ears). And I've slipped and nicked part of my mustache and eyebrow.
But at Hiro Ginza, I just sat (or lied) there, comfortable and care free. It felt cathartic. I was a new man. I highly recommend it to any person who needs a shave. Or, for that matter, a haircut.
You can find out more about Hiro Ginza via their website:
Or, even easier, you can make a reservation, in English, via Rsrve.com.
The site is bilingual. Unfortunately, the staff at Hiro Ginza are not. But their hair and shave is smooth in any language!