Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Haircut

Sunday I went to Yamaguchi City for the first time. That's right, CAPITAL CITY. I met up with Naomi to do some feminine things that included haircuts. This was my first haircut in Japan. Back home Liz cut my hair, so during the last seven months my hair grew into something that needed constant tying up. And brushing. Ug.

So of course when we got there there was paperwork to fill out. I wrote my name in Katakana in public for the first time, but made Naomi fill out the form telling my age, address, phone number, blood type, etc. After we filled out the forms my hairdresser squatted in front of us and started asking Naomi what I want. We kind of discussed it in the car, but of course I didnt really know. Then there was coloring, I also didnt know what color I wanted. I didnt just want BLACK, because it's summer and blah blah. So there were some concepts I didnt understand, the word "line" thrown out a lot, and me describing what "blending" meant to everyone.

I was led to the chair, and other than the fact I was paying a bunch of money for all this, didnt really care what he did to me. So he gently ran his fingers through my hair a few times, then we headed over for a shampoo. He put a towel on my lap and my face. This shampoo took about 10 minutes. He treated my hair like it was made of cotton candy and he didnt want to break it.

Then the cut began. Or, cut number one. Since we couldnt talk I kept feeling like he was looking at my facial expressions to see if he was doing it right. Then he blew dried my hair. And the coloring began. A nervous little Japanese hipster came over and put "ear caps" on me. But he did it in a way to avoid touching my hair or body. Then he brought me a soda.

So they slapped on some color and waited. Wrapped me in super Japanese saran wrap and waited. Then, the hairdresser brought me over a Japanese copy of "Where's Waldo?" because I looked bored.

My favorite book.

I found Waldo, or Wally 「ワーリー」 on every page. Then there was some more color and touching. Then, a girl came over and led me back to the sink. She shampooed me again. She used three different liquids and gave me a scalp massage. I started falling asleep and I think I made a little pleasure-induced grunt at one point.

Then she brought me back to my chair and started talking to Naomi about me. I understood a little. Kinda. It's easy to know when someone's talking about you, and of course she's asking where I'm from, what I do. Naomi told her I speak a little Japanese (I understood when they said that) so she turned to me, opened her mouth really wide and asked, "NI-HON WAA SUKIII DESU KAAA?" I quietly replied, "hai." I was kind of taken aback. Id never heard a Japanese person talk that loudly.

It was funny to be on the other end of that "if I talk louder maybe they'll understand."

Then she blew dried my hair for twenty minutes. Then, the hairdresser came back and cut more. He cut my hair one-at-a-time. I swear. Then the girl came back and styled my hair. THEN, he came back and cut even more, and restyled it. Im not sure how many times this happened. I dozed off. He asked me in English, "Are-you-tired?" He speaks!

Then I was done, they returned my personal possessions from lock-up, and I had to sit and wait for Naomi's (even slower) process to finish.

In all, it took three hours.

At the end Naomi's hairdresser kept saying "I-solly." And they bowed us to our car.

I really like the cut and color, though.

(I just took that photo after my nap)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Will Be 24 in Two Months From Today and Other Random Musings

I'm tired. All the energy has been sucked out of my body by the sun, who has taken it to shine down on Japan. Right now Im taking a break from learning the days of the week (in Japanese, in case you thought Im disabled). A break is necessary to see if I can retain the information I just crammed into my head for the last hour. But Im listening to a podcast too, about asking questions or counting or something. Im not really listening, just hoping for some osmosis. I swear, it really works. I'll blurt out things in Japanese every once in a while that I didnt know I knew.

I have all these stupid words to learn, so everyday I give myself a new group. Tomorrow I'm memorizing some verbs. Sexy, I know.

If I can stay awake until Sunday, I have a ten day vacation coming my way! It's Golden Week! I love Japan! I dont have any big plans, aside from drawing, shopping, haircut and studying---oh, but I am having a Cinco de Mayo party. It will be the biggest random Mexican holiday celebration in Sakuragi this year! You have to come.

Ok, test time:

日曜日 [Sunday]
月曜日 [Monday]
火曜日 [Tuesday]
水曜日 [Wednesday]
木曜日 [Thursday]
金曜日 [Friday]
土曜日 [Saturday]

Yea! I did it without looking! I can go to bed!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cultural Experience #26+27

Today I woke up really early and went with a bunch of my coworkers to see yabusame, Japanese archery on horseback. The archer rides a horse down a long path and has to shoot three targets without stopping. It was pretty interesting. The cherry blossoms were past full bloom so when the wind blew there was pink snow.

I probably had four panic attacks on the drive up. It was way out in the country and we took little winding roads.

Afterwards we went to an onsen. It was my first time, and being the only girl in the group, I had to face the Japanese bath alone. It was weird. The whole idea of onsens is strange. Or the Japanese obsession is. Children, teenagers, old people, all strip naked and sit together in hot water. Frequently.

First you buy a ticket and then get a key and a towel from the clerk. Then you walk into a locker room, get butt naked, and ask strangers which door you should go through. Then you enter a shower room, where dozens of ladies are sitting on little stools and lathering up in front of little mirrors. I sat at a stool and started washing my hair and staring in the mirror thinking how surreal this was. I watched a few old naked ladies, to see what I should do next, and they went through a door to get outside. I followed. I was disappointed by the pool, it was pretty small and the scenery wasnt great. I held my little white towel over my shame as I got in. Everyone stared at me. It's hard to be inconspicuous when youre a foreigner. There were some old ladies near me, talking to each other, there were a few kids playing with their mom, and there were some young teenage girls huddled together.

It was totally not relaxing. I had to pee and I felt totally out of place. And I was alone, it probably would have been better if I had someone in there I could talk to. Above all, it just seemed totally bizarre. Like, Japanese people just go get naked with their friends and sit and chat in water?

I'd go again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Long time, no post. It feels that way, anyway. My unsecured wireless signal has been less reliable lately and Ive been busy with all the things that people get busy with. So, anyway, last week Liz visited! It was super fun. Once it was determined where I actually live (no, not Kudamatsu, not Hiroshima) she came to Tokuyama (or Shunan, or Sakuragi...) and we did fun Japaneasy things. The first day we went to the Mall and ate Omu Rice (really gross, picture scrambled eggs over rice in pee sauce). We went to the arcade and pet shop and tried to steal a monkey.

No trip to my neck of the woods is complete without a visit to Miyajima and a gander at the O-Torii gate. We also went up this ropeway. That went something like this: "Liz, Liz, ikimasho! We have to go up the ropeway, c'mon! It'll be awesome!"

"Ok, Jeannette, sure."

We climb halfway up the mountain and buy our 1800円 round trip tickets. As soon as we get in the car thing it's the Montreal canoe trip all over again. "Oh my God Liz, Im going to fucking die. Im going to puke all over this thing. Shit-damn-hell-balls."

"Jeannette, your eyes arent even open. And let go of me, I cant feel my hand."

And then we saw a tanuki. And went to Starbucks and drew.

The cherry blossoms bloomed and people go nuts for that shit here. It's hilarious. I had the traditional 'o-hanami' picnic thing last weekend. I did a watercolour painting (yes, Im obviously still doing the one-month-sober thing), it turned out like shit.

Im at work and have to get the train home, so that's the end of my lame post about a un-lame time I had with Liz!