Jul 8, 2018

The Wonder of a Professional Shave in Japan

I am not one for pampering. Hair cuts were always best when it came to the cheapest and quickest option, and I hate the idea of paying someone to do something that I am more than capable of doing myself.

But you know what I hate more? Shaving. And you know what my wife hates? That I refuse to pamper myself from time-to-time. Something about “you deserve it, and besides, if you don’t take care of yourself you’re going to lose your mind.”

In any case, she was sweet enough to gift me a shave at my local barber. Normally, I would have been pretty skeptical—there are not many barbers back in the states that I would trust putting a straight razor to my neck—but I have had many conversations with my barber about the rigorous training requirements for Japanese stylists. He even explained to me that barbers (理髪師) are classified under the same master class kanji (師) as teachers (教師) and doctors (医師). In order to get certification, barbers have to apprentice for a certain amount of time and pass a thorough test that includes shaving with a straight razor.

So I went to the barber shop confident in my local rihatsu-shi, and he did not disappoint.

The Wonder of a Professional Shave in Japan photo

He started by asking me how much I wanted to shave, including around my eyebrows! I explained that up to the cheeks was fine, and he was meticulous in his prep and execution. I can honestly say that I have never had a better shave, and there are few things as relaxing as having a professional shave done. My wife asked if I fell asleep, and it wasn’t sleep more than this peaceful, meditative state that I seemed to fall into for the majority of the shave.

And you know how much it cost? 1600 yen! That’s it.

So that’s why I recommend that every man who shaves go get a professional shave here in Japan at least once in his life. And when you decide to go (or ladies, if you’re booking in for your partner), keep two other things in mind:

1) Don’t overpay by going somewhere fancy. As I mentioned, every licensed barber in Japan has to be qualified in the shave. Besides, the local barber who has been shaving ojisan for 20 years is probably more proficient than the fancy young bloke running a high end salon.

2) Give yourself plenty of time. Mine took over an hour!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).