Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ooooooohh!!! Nice Hair!!!

Have you ever tried buying deodorant in Japan? It's impossible. Granted, there are a few brands of scented bodyspray available in some of the larger stores but none of them are anti-perspirants, so they're about as useful as a chocolate microwave. I tried using some Japanese bodyspray when I first arrived, but by the end of the day I'd just be sitting in a pool of my own excretions, albeit with a slightly minty smell mixed-in with the stench of stale sweat. Which, frankly, wasn't pleasant for anyone.

Nowadays I get my deodorant sent from home, so the sweat-pool days are long gone, but I'm still intrigued as to why so few Japanese men use deodorant. When I go to the sento (public baths) I never see Japanese guys put on deodorant when they're getting dressed: even on the hottest days of the year. I've heard it said that Japanese men don't sweat as much as Western men - I've absolutely no idea whether this is true or not, but I've seen enough spreading armpit patches around the office to confirm that a little bit of anti-perspirant wouldn't go amiss here and there. The deodorant mystery continues...

In contrast, guys in Japan have no qualms about slapping every oil and tonic they can get their hands on into their lustrous, and often bizarrely-styled hair. I've heard tales of teenage boys getting up at 5.30am to "set" their hair before they go to school, and there's a chap in one of my classes who sits with a tub of hair cream on his desk all day, presumably so he can dive into it to touch up his coiffure between lessons. And the hair clips! Don't get me started on the hair clips! When did guys start wearing hair clips?

I think there's definitely an obsession with hair in Japan. For a start there seems to be a hairdresser on every corner - Tokyo has 16,000 shops which do hair and make up, and in the Shibuya district alone there are 860 salons, which is one for every 230 residents. There's a good article here which suggests that because there is so little variation in hair colour in Japan, Japanese customers are more willing to experiment with dyes and styling, and Tokyoites in particular want their hair to look "less Asian". I'd definitely agree with that - especially about the styling "experiments". Working at school I'm protected from the worst of these styling "experiments" (the school rules are very strict about dying hair), but occasionally some of the students who've graduated pop back in to say hello and I'm treated to the full force of the styling monster they've unleashed on their hair. Next time one of them comes in I'll take a picture - you wouldn't believe the amount of people walking around with ginger hair in this country...

In the meantime here's some awesome gingerness I found while hunting around the web (photo from www.teaching-in-japan.com)

"Ginger hair!/ It's not the same for you/In another world, maybe/We'll all be ginger and free."

Name that song.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

belle & seb? or simon & garf?


8:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's David Devant and his Spirit Wife. It's now 12.45am and I have been looking for the CD for about two and a half hours so I can't give you the title but I'd stake my indieguru reputation on it.
Love Will XXX

9:46 am  
Blogger Lewis said...

Good job Will! I name you TRIVIA KING, Lord of the Obscure Indie References, Keeper of the Forbidden Lore. By the way, the title of the song is "Ginger Hair". Natch.

11:28 pm  

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