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Decoding Japanese Hair Salon Menus

Spring is in full swing here in Japan and it's the perfect time to start fresh with a new style, but both the language barrier and the number of unfamiliar options available, getting a haircut in Japan can be intimidating.

By 3 min read

Spring is in full swing here in Japan and it’s the perfect time to start fresh with a new style, but both the language barrier and the number of unfamiliar options available, getting a haircut in Japan can be intimidating.

In this article, you can read about some of the most offered salon menu items in Japan.

Straightening
縮毛矯正 (shukumou kyousei)

Cost: 8000 yen to 25,000 yen

Hair straightening is a lot more popular in Japan that I had imagined. An American friend of mine often gets straightening done at Tokyo salons, saying that Japanese hair straightening works a lot better. Coworkers with self-proclaimed “wakame hair” have even copped to getting straightening done so that their hair looks less like seaweed.

The straightening process involves the use of several straightening liquid treatments and can take up to three or four hours, so make sure to set aside a good part of your day if you decide to try straightening.

Perm
パーマ (paama)

Cost: 8000 yen to 13,000 yen

Perms aren’t just for your grandma. When a male friend of mine told me he had gotten a perm, my first reaction was to laugh. Immediately afterwards, I felt like a jerk because laughing at your friends’ hair choices is mean and also because the perm looked extremely cool.

The era of the punch perm is sadly over, and even “normal” perms seem to be giving way to newer methods. Two types of perms popping up a lot on salon menus are digital perms and air waves.

A digital perm (デジタルパーマ, dejitaru paama) creates big, loose curls by using heat and is easy to style. A hair dryer is all you need to revive the curls after a shower.

An air wave perm (エアウェーブ, eaweebu) also creates loose curls but uses warm air instead of heat during the perming process.

The type of perm that is best for your hair will depend on various factors such as your hair type, your price range, and your desired style, so consult with a hair stylist.

Head Spa
ヘッドスパ (heddo supa)

Cost: 1500 yen to 10,000 yen

When I saw that a local hair salon had a coupon for a “head spa,” I jumped at the chance to try something new. I went in expecting some sort of warm water soak, but ended up getting a head massage.

According to several Japanese salon sites, a head spa is a head massage based on Indian Ayurveda and focusing on pressure points. The head spa is supposed to clean the scalp, restore hair health and promote relaxation.

When I first experienced a head spa, I was so surprised about getting a head massage that I couldn’t relax. Later, though, I ended up getting a carbonic acid head spa (炭酸ヘッドスパ, tansan heddo supa), which consisted of a massage and a soak in a carbonic acid hair bath. The stylist pointed out that the liquid used in the carbonic head spa was turning white, which meant that the treatment had removed build-up from my scalp. I still have nightmares.

Head spas range from 10 to 60 minutes, and while most cost around 3000 yen, the price will rely on the type and length of the head spa.

Treatment
トリートメント (Toriitomento)

Cost: 4000 to 10,000 yen

You may see a trend, but I had no idea what a treatment was when I decided to get one. The treatment involved lots of creams and heat and left my hair feeling like a tub of very expensive conditioner had been dumped on it. The stylist said that treatments repair damaged hair cuticles and make the hair more glossy. My hair did indeed feel soft and smooth afterwards.

Much like head spas and perms, plenty of treatments are available. Some of the ones that pop up more frequently are moisture treatments (潤いトリートメント, uruoi toriitomento) and gloss treatments (グロストリートメント, gurosu toriitomento).

Have you ever had any of these hair styling options done at a salon?

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  • じゅり says:

    http://beauty.hotpepper.jp is one of the best websites (Japanese only) for hair salon deals: I got a cut and straightening for only ¥5000 at a lovely salon in Ikebukuro. Absolutely loved it.

    • Su2y says:

      I saw deals like that too. Do they cost the same price as we made reservation or do they charge more? I’m quite scared of scamming although it’s really rare in Japan.

      • Lynn says:

        Since you brought this up, I got curious about any price differences. One salon on HotPepper had some great coupon deals not available on their own website and the “regular” prices on HotPepper for that salon were the same as the regular prices on the salon’s website. However, another salon charged about 1000 yen more on HotPepper for non-couponed items than they do on their own website! (Although their coupon prices on HotPepper were much better than on their own website.)
        It looks like the takeaway is that HotPepper is good for the coupons, but be careful of the non-coupon items.

    • Lynn says:

      I totally agree! If you reserve through HotPepper, you can also rack up points. I recently got a 1 hour massage for only 1000 yen by using hair cut points I’d accrued. Thanks for mentioning the site!

  • Dare9179 says:

    I just wondering why is just getting a haircut in Japan is expensive?

    • serooroo says:

      it depends on the salon u go to. coz if u go to a salon which requires you to make an appointment to them thats why its expensive (¥5,000) but if u go to a regular salon then it would be cheaper (¥1,500)

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