In my experience, and from what I’ve heard of others’ experiences, it’s usually not too hard to find great hair stylists in Japan. I’ve heard some people say that if you have very fine hair, or any type or texture different than “Japanese hair” (which is more or less a myth, as Japanese women have a range of hair types as well) you may have trouble, but I’ve never had problems, and my hair is very fine. Though, this may not be true for everyone, depending on what part of Japan you live in, what your hair type is, among other factors. This is just my experience, so would love to hear your experiences - both good and bad.
Before we look at some tools for finding hair salons, let’s go over some services (and their Japanese counterparts) so you can find what you’re looking for more easily (note, there are more services than these, but these are quite common):
Hair salon ヘアサロン
Straight perm ストレートパーマ
Spiral perm スパイラルパーマ
Digital perm デジタルパーマ
Hair straightening 縮毛矯正 (しゅくもうきょうせい）
Extensions エクステ or エクステンション
Shampoo (Wash) シャンプー
Blow dry (plus styling usually) ブロー
So how do you find a good hair salon?Ask around
My first recommendation to find a good hair salon is to ask others living in your area, Japanese and foreigners alike. Find out where they like to go, how affordable it is, and also ask if they know if any of the stylists speak English if that’s a necessity for you.
Most of the stylists I’ve been to don’t speak English other than a few words, but they’ve usually been very eager to converse, even if I have to translate words on my iPhone for our conversation while they snip away at my hair (it’s great Japanese practice!)
If you’ve failed to find any good recommendations, then the next best place to look is online. (Or, alternatively, you could always just drop in to any hair salon you see while walking/biking/driving around town - they are literally everywhere).
I’ve included a few sites below (though there are many more online). Yes, they are all in Japanese, but all you really need to know is the kanji for your prefecture and city, and possibly for a specific service you want (see the above terms for help). If this is still difficult, feel free to use Google translate, another browser translation tool of choice, or tools like Rikaichan or Rikaikun.
Yahoo Beauty Salon Search
I found this search tool to be quite extensive and allows you to search for salons based on 8 categories: hair, nails, aesthetics (which includes facials and similar services), eyelashes, makeup/cosmetics, massage, health and relaxation. From this page, you can either choose a category first, or click on the map to get to your location (I recommend using the map first and then choosing a category). (Click to enlarge images).
|Choose your location on the green map, then choose a category.|
Finally, you’ll be brought to a list of all the salons in that particular area that fit the category you chose. Some places have reviews and ratings, though not all do.
|Choose a category on the top, and/or choose a more specific location.|
For this site, which is decent but not as large of a selection as Yahoo, first choose your region on the map, then your prefecture/area on the page that follows.
Next, a list of cities will pop up - choose the location you’d like. The next page will allow you to refine your search results a bit more if you’d like, which you can see below:
Cuts Salon Search
This site focuses more specifically on the Tokyo area, so didn’t have a very big selection for locations outside of Tokyo, but it still offered a few options for other areas and is pretty easy to use.
Here’s the country-wide selection page:
And the Tokyo selection page:
One of our readers suggested Vi-Vi-Vi, and that you can choose to search for salons that offer eyebrow services. Additionally, like some other sites, you can make reservations at many of the salons online, which saves you the trouble of making a call in Japanese if it's easier for you to navigate the online form than listen to and try to comprehend rapid Japanese.
Finally, do hair salons offer eyebrow waxing or plucking? As far as I know, and have been able to find online, most don’t (especially in my area). That doesn’t mean they all don’t, and if they do they likely will have something on the "menu" (service list) with “アイブロウ” or “眉”, so look for those.
Apparently there are also special eyebrow design type salons - though these were mostly located in large cities. Does anyone have their eyebrows professionally done? If so, what type of salon do you visit?
Do you have any favorite sites or guides for finding hair salons? Any other suggestions to add to this information? Have an experience to share? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!