December 22, 2002
Nipponjin with scissors

Last week I made a tactical error in the sartorial department. I decided to not go all the way across town to my usual stylist for a haircut, but to try a beauty shop in my own neighborhood.

I took the photos of my Amelie cut that MJ snapped. I explained that I just wanted my hair cut a little shorter. I ended up with…not the same thing and about 2 months of regrowth before I think I’ll be happy with my hair again. I might hand MJ the scissors next time we get together and see if she can do something to fix it. It can’t get too much worse, really.

The trouble started when trying to make small talk, I asked the hairdresser—a 20-something man with dyed yellow hair and a nose pierce—whether Japanese hair and foriegn hair are similar. His answer was pretty standard (No, Japanese hair is thick and springy) but the word he used for Japanese really took me by surprise.

Nipponjin. This is the way is used to be said in Japan’s expansionist, Korea-is-really-our-colony-and-so-is-China history. Before the war, Japan was commonly called Nippon and its people were Nipponese or Nipponjin (hence the wartime word for the Japanese enemy, Nips).

But after the war, as a concession to peace, the country renamed itself to the softer Nihon and its citizens became Nihonjin. So when I said Nihonjin and Mr. Hairdresser answered with Nipponjin, I really didn’t know what to think. Is he a nationalist? Am I having my hair cut by someone who hates foreigners? Does he drive those loud black trucks on his days off—the ones that cruise around town blaring the national anthem and shouting for foreigners to go home?

So with that dread in mind, I sat back and tried to enjoy my haircutting experience. It was OK until he attacked my head with the thinning shears. Some thinning is OK, but he really went at it. I think he was trying to cut away all of the waviness—which simply cannot be done to my hair.

Now I have sections that stick stright down, really short bits underneath (I found one last night that’s about one centimeter long) and one nice wave in the front that flies off into the air like a wing. There used to be other hair that supported it, but it was all thinned away. My head looks like a badly waving flag.

Posted by kuri at December 22, 2002 09:53 AM


Hey Kris, remember that time you got your head shaved and you wore that little crocheted skullcap? Might not be a bad idea to start over. Or have someone else do a repair job. I completely sympathize. I have found very few people who can cut my hair and when I find one I hang to them for as long as possible. I know you know that time will do the real repair (and you hair DOES grow fast) but oh the agony of waiting!

Posted by: jean on December 22, 2002 01:42 PM

I think a side-by-side comparison of the Amelie cut you showed the hairdresser and the cut you have now might be called for - like you and your 10-year old grandma’s do (great-grandma?) … but only if you’re showing yourself in public after the thinning shear tragedy.

Posted by: Tara on December 22, 2002 04:14 PM

I got my hair cut yesterday too! *shiver* I called every stylist in town and all were busy (everyone has to look nice for Santa!). I finally decided on Malcom’s, a “no appointment necessary” salon.

I’ve had stylists do that same infernal thinning thing to my hair too. Ugh! Good thing for us that our hair grows quickly.

Posted by: Jennifer on December 22, 2002 11:13 PM
Post a comment

Email Address (optional):

URL (optional):


Remember info?