Japanese Efficiency – At The Salon!!

The incredible Aiko-san, massaging my right hand while I clumsily take a bad picture with my left. She is more beautiful in person.

The incredible Aiko-san, massaging my right hand while I clumsily take a bad picture with my left. She is more beautiful in person.

In my limited salon experience, when you get your hair cut, you get your hair cut.  When you get a massage,  you get a massage.  At my mom’s salon in Florida,  hair coloring is separate from cutting, even! (But we wouldn’t know about that – we’re natural blondes, right Mom?)

This separation of services is not the case in Japan, I have come to find out.  Today as I (ahem) had my hair  cut and colored, my favorite stylist, Takano-san (at May’s Garden Spa in Roppongi Hills – go there – it’s amazing) told me they were having a special on hand and forearm massages and if I wanted to do it, the esthetician  would come right over.  The price was right and I was curious, so why not?  I am hooked.  It was unbelievable.

While I was waiting with the color on, Aiko-san massaged my right hand and arm, starting with a hot towel, going through the massage with cream, and finishing with a “pack-u” – or what I would call a “mask” for my hand. Right as she got the mask on, however, it was time for me to get a shampoo to rinse out the color.  As we all know, hair coloring waits for no man – or woman – or hand massage. But that didn’t faze Aiko-san.  She just rolled her little cart over to the sink where I was getting rinsed, and she started on my left hand.

Yes, that’s right. I got that fabulous head massage and shampoo combination about which I constantly rave, AND the hand and forearm massage  at the SAME TIME.

At one point the shampoo man was massaging my temples and Aiko-san was massaging my left palm.  Bliss.  Purse bliss.

Just as the hot towel went on my forehead and then under the back of my neck as usual, Aiko-san finished applying the mask to my left hand.  So I had to get up (shakily) and walk back to the haircut chair with my hands raised. As soon as I was seated and Takano-san was ready to cut my hair, Aiko-san was right there removing the hand mask and then applying moisturizer before finishing it off.

I understand this was a special treat and not something I can have regularly.  I am very privileged to do these things, lest you think I take it for granted.  But I do think it’s simply brilliant to have salon services put together so nicely.  It saves time for the customer and I’m sure it makes the salon work more efficiently.  What a day.  I’m just going to appreciate it for what it is: Japanese work flow at its best.

The Top Ten Things I Miss About Tokyo

It’s about that time of year again, when I do the list of things I miss about my adopted home when I am away from it for so many weeks.  So here we go!

  1. Walking everywhere – I spend so much time in my car in Washington DC – even living right in the city!
  2. The drinking culture – because everyone drives, fewer people have a smaller number of drinks – I do love my drinks!
  3. My favorite sushi restaurant – Fukuzushi.  In Roppongi.  I never eat sushi in the U.S.
  4. Mount Thabor bakery in Azabu Juban – there is truly no French bakery quite like that here in DC.
  5. Using my iPhone like it was meant to be used – I do as little data roaming as possible here in DC, and I miss just pulling out my smart phone at will.  I use a cheap, old, little Nokia phone here in DC.
  6. My tiny little car – I’m driving a rented Chevy Impala here in DC, which is 1.5 times bigger than my little BMW 318I in Tokyo.
  7. The service – I like American restaurants just fine, but the service in Tokyo is white-glove perfect, all without tipping.
  8. May’s Garden Spa in Roppongi.  I have a pretty good hairstylist here in DC, but even if the cut is nearly as good, the experience of the salon in Tokyo is second to none!
  9. Japanese TV – those advertisements are a stitch!!!
  10. My TOILET – for reasons I will not enumerate – but suffice to say, I miss its “functions”!!

I’ll be in DC for a little over two more weeks.  I love it here, but I am looking forward to going home to Tokyo.

Greetings at the Salon!

Here is the entrance on the second floor of the Hollywood Hat building in Roppongi Hills. See the door into which I entered on the right.

After a long summer in the U.S., I was really looking forward to having a haircut. I got to May’s Garden Spa in Roppongi Hills.  I’m sure I’ve posted a description of the joys of a Japanese haircut – the massage, the hot tea, the massage, the quiet atmosphere, the massage…anyway, you get the picture.  This time, because my kids had only half days of school last week, I scheduled myself for a 9am haircut – just enough time to drop the darlings at school before scooting to the salon.  (Please bear in mind that scooting is a relative term – we do not hop in the car and go to the salon here.  We walk over.)

Well, it turns out that I was the first customer of the day.  When I walked toward the entrance from the escalator, which is on the second floor of a very open building, the door was closed and I could see about 25 people standing in the front lobby.  I retreated from the door, figuring that since I was about 3 minutes early, I would wait until they opened it.  But one of the hostesses of the place hurried out to get me and bring me in.

So I walked into the lobby with about 25 people all bowing to me, saying – somewhat singing – “Irashaemasse!” Loosely

It really is a gorgeous salon.

translated it means welcome and please spend money here.

There were literally 25 aestheticians, beauticians, hostesses, masseurs, everything – greeting me.  Apparently they do this for the first customer of the day every single day.  They gather at the front, have a brief morning meeting and wait for the first customer.

What a country.