I ended up doing some research online about salons that other Americans have tried and ended up deciding on one that got great reviews - Earth Salon. Located only about 10 minutes from our house, the salon looked clean, modern, feminine- and took appointments. When I returned for my cut the following week, I was given a price list by the very friendly receptionist. This is not unusual. 99.9% of the people you meet here in Okinawa are the most upbeat and happy people you've ever met. From what I gathered, a women's cut was 3900 yen, and if I wanted a more senior stylist, it would be either 600 or 1100 yen extra. I asked for the highest stylist (1100 yen extra), because I wasn't taking any chances with my hair. After they informed me that there were no "top senior stylists" (I'm making these titles up, of course!) available, I agreed to let the "middle senior stylist" (600 yen extra) do the cut. I only had to wait a few minutes before a male stylist came and greeted me. He took me over to a cute little locker area right off the reception to lock my purse up - I got to bring the key with me to his station. I'm not sure why or how, but even with the obvious language barrier, I immediately felt at ease with this stylist. Maybe it was his high fashion clothing, maybe it was his seniority at the salon, or maybe it was because I brought in a picture of Jennifer Aniston and a small paragraph of instructions translated into Japanese using Babelfish... Either way, I could tell I was in for a great experience.
Decor, decor, decor! Let me tell you about the decor! I loved it! Not only was it sleak and contemporary, which is what I like in any salon, but it was also G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S (I've got that Fergy song in my head right now!). I'm sure guys get their hair done at Earth Salon all the time, but it definately had a girly ambiance to it - beaded dividers, giant rose wallcoverings, chandeliers...all done very tastefully. After being told that it would cost me 500 yen extra to get my hair washed (huh?!?), I decided to go for it so that I could experience everything the salon had to offer me, and I was throroughly glad that I did! First stop: choose your own aromatherapy shampoo scent. I sniffed my way through about 30 different scents before selecting "raspberry peach" for myself. Second stop: reclining wash station. I got to put my feet up, lay back and relax while my stylist washed my hair with my selected shampoo. They pull out all the stops as well - the scent was a treat, but I also got one of those silk sleep masks over my eyes, and my stylist spent about 15 minutes massaging my scalp. Third stop: neck massage. After my hair was up in the towel and I was sitting upright once again, I was all ready to return to my stylists chair when I was pleasantly suprised with a neck massage. My advice to anyone getting a haircut at Earth Salon - pay the extra 500 yen for a wash - it's well worth it!
VIP Room- Don't ask me who this is for exactly...
All in all, my first Japanese haircut was not only a success, but also a great experience. My stylist did exactly what I wanted. He even took his time blow drying and styling my hair with a flat iron. The whole experience took about an hour and a half, and ended up costing me 5000 yen (about $50). Unlike Matt, who gets his haircut every week, I only get mine cut once every few months, so I thought the price was fair considering how much they do and how great the service was. I will definately be back!