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Coiffing in Tokyo
image How long will it take? A week, a month or two months after arriving in Tokyo it's going to hit you: "Hey, I gotta do something about my hair!"

What usually happens next is something resembling panic. "What's the Japanese word for trim? Am I going to find myself with a geisha beehive? Will I end up with a Mohawk?"

Wait. Take our advice and relax. Male, female or heavy-metal teen alien, Tokyo can meet your hair-care needs.

Beard or Bar Code?
Let's start with the guys, who are likely to find the barber here a much more pleasant experience than at home. Where in the West can you get a hot shave nowadays? And when was the last time your barber gave you a shoulder massage? Here, it's all part of the package.

If you can get your point across in basic Japanese (or pantomime), the local barber will probably do just fine. Cut, shampoo, blow-dry, shave and massage for as little as ¥3,000.

John Powles who sports the classiest silver beard in Tokyo, says his local barber in Ichibancho does a perfectly adequate job of sculpting it for just ¥2,900. As a regular, he tells us, he gets a discount.

If you want something more fashionable plus service in English, try Mannish in Harajuku or any of the popular unisex salons. Another option, especially on Monday when other barbers close, is to head for a big hotel. Kawashima at the New Otani and Ohba at the ANA Hotel are both good bets.

Wherever you go, if you overhear the barber quipping that you have a "bar code no atama" - you know, five strands pasted across the top - tell him male-pattern baldness is no joke.

et pour Madame?
Although guys are more likely to lose it, women do have more to lose at a less-than-perfect salon. And because the best stylists are always busy, the discovery of a really good one is shared only with closest and dearest friends. This makes compiling a list a bit challenging, but we did manage to extract a few confessions.

Friends tell me their ideal is a stylist who has serviceable English, who understands non-Japanese hair... and "who knows that highlights have nothing to do with Clorox bleach." The very best have worked or trained abroad.

Michelle Brazeau, Tokyo's most elegant red-head, relies on several places, depending on her needs. As she is an American Club member, Andre Bernard at TAC is convenient except Sunday and Monday when it's closed. Maroze Salon, above National Azabu, has free parking.

The Y.S. Park International Salons in Roppongi, Omotesando and Daikanyama have many devotees - and kids favor Y.S. Park Junior in Roppongi. Panorama is the green choice, as they use "environmentally sensitive and cruelty-free hair products."

Across from Kinokuniya is Eton Crop, a London salon that has made its way to Japan. If you prefer a French touch, visit Salon de Junko in Roppongi where the stylists are Paris-trained.

Crossing the Atlantic, a Manhattan approach is taken at New Hair Story near Nogizaka. Their original salon is in the Waldorf Astoria. For a Californian accent see Hollywood Beauty Salon in Roppongi. And if it's an esthetician you want to see, visit Mirror Mirror in Kita-Aoyama.

Prices run from ¥3,800 for a simple cut at Maroze to ¥7,800 for the works at Andre Bernard. Throw in a perm or highlights and expect to pay ¥8,000 to ¥15,000. As any attempt to name the best on the list would surely provoke intense debate, we'll let you decide for yourself. You can find phone numbers by following this link.


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