Friday, June 5, 2009

Leave my nose out of it

I discovered the joy of eyebrow threading while in London two months ago and could not believe it hasn't caught on in Tokyo, or that there is not at least one Indian woman doing it out of some shady salon. We know that Japanese women shave their arms (there goes another key Google search phrase) but did we know that most of them shave their eyebrows and faces as the preferred method of hair removal? I did, although I didn't know that there was so much cheek-shaving going on. I am personally a fan of peach fuzz.

Cut a long story short, I found a Japanese woman who runs a small threading salon out of her apartment in Tokyo and promptly made an appointment. I initially thought you could opt for just eyebrow threading but apparently all that is on offer is a full-face package. Alright, I thought, and I arranged beforehand to just have my eyebrows done anyway. The lady who runs it, Matsuoka-san, was very sweet and I was getting some good vibes from her. Things started to go downhill when she said that a) she has never threaded a gaijin before and b) I am the first person to only get my eyebrows done. Are you sure? she asked. I explained that while I may indeed have minute hair on my face, it is blond and therefore basically invisible. No need to get self-conscious about a little invisible hair now is there? She agreed enthusiastically and even went so far as to say that it was probably really cute when the light hits my invisible blond facial hair and makes it sparkle. Great, now I am the supergaijin with magic light-reflecting facial hair!!!

So she starts threading and things are going OK until she starts commenting on how my takai gaijin nose is making it hard for her to do certain spots. Come on, I think, if you are a professional offering threading services I can't imagine a little nose getting in the way - she is used to threading entire faces for fuck's sake. We laughed and chatted for the first few minutes and then all I could hear was the sound of her breathing as she (I imagine) anxiously inspected at my brows. Things on the threading side starting to slow down a bit and it felt like she was doing piecemeal work, removing one hair at a time instead of a whole line as is par for the threading course. Minutes ticked by and I started to break out in a nervous above-the-lip sweat thinking that an hour had gone by and I was going to open my eyes to no eyebrows. She got out the tweezers, which should be unnecessary when threading, and proceeded to target certain areas with them while giving me the most painful tweezing I have ever received. A bikini wax doesn't hurt that much. For real.

She finally finished and handed me the mirror with stress and anxiety written all over her hairless face. It was only then that she started gushing non-stop about how she had never realized before how different gaijin hair is and that she really learned something today. She did an OK job and I don't regret going to her, but she seriously lost her shit over my gaijin-hair eyebrows. Minus 10 points. I'm sure my hair is different from Japanese hair but I still don't see how that and my nose could truly stand in the way of a professional. The thread she uses to remove hair doesn't discriminate, why should her technique? I am trying not to get frustrated but I don't understand why it is so hard to adapt for some people here, but I guess that explains the foreign-run beauty salons here in Tokyo. I wish I was in London where the Indian woman doing your brows wouldn't blink if you were black, white or hot fucking pink.

15 comments:

selena said...

I must say, you are opening me up to all manner of body hair awareness and hair removal techniques in Tokyo.

Any tips on where to get bleaching cream? I can't seem to find any in the drugstore. Do I have to wait until my next trip Stateside?

kathrynoh said...

Are Japanese girls really hairy? I wouldn't think so but recently I was reading a Japanese magazine (well looking at the pictures) and there was an ad for hair removal. One of the before shots showed a really hairy cleavage. We couldn't work out, with our limited Japanese, whether it was meant to be a girl or a new half.

Theda said...

Oh FFS! I can see how the hair growing out of your head is different from most Japanese(hair is definitely thicker there) but body hair?

And she couldn't get around your nose?? *laughs*

The attitude from her is so ridiculous it's downright laughable-

Reannon said...

That's funny about the 'light reflecting hair' part. I totally tried threading for the first time a few days ago and OMG it's the best. It didn't hurt at all. I barely felt it...It's amazing. But yeah, I think it's generally something that you'd only have done to your whole face. I went to an Indian salon here in California and they said that normally they don't just do the eyebrows either.

Corinne said...

I have to fight them off from shaving my face every time I go to get my hair done, they protest it's service, I protest I'll end up with 5 o' clock shadow!
I am keen for an eyebrow wax though but have always been too scared, might have to venture out and give the hair specialists of Osaka some foreign hair to practice on...

Katrina said...

I'm from London now living in Tokyo and I always used to get my eyebrows treaded there. Since being in Japan my brows have never been the same! I've also wondered why treading isn't big over here, and only yeterday I found an Indian woman who does treading for really cheap. I'm going tomorrow, will let you know how it goes!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

selena - glad to be of service. For the record, I don't usually talk/think this much about body hair but Japan has brought it out of me! I don't know about bleaching cream, will do a search and let you know if I find anything.

kathrynoh - I don't think they are really hair (except of course for their nether regions) but because their hair is dark it is more conspicuous than say, mine. While looking for a threading place I found this salon that specializes in wedding prep packages and they had a before and after picture of the back of this woman's neck and upper back - it looked like a shadow had been removed.

Theda - I know right! You'd think I was the first human she had ever seen before or something. Not very professional in any case...

Reannon - Isn't it fantastic? I feel like I've been living in the stone age for all these years! That's interesting that the salon you visited usually does full face. All the places I've seen overseas have offered full face but also had a full menu for just individual parts. The place I went to in London seemed to specialize in brows, probably because that will attract a wider clientele, especially those who don't want their whole faces done.

Corinne - Stay strong on that! I would hate to let them do it just once and then have to face the consequences for ever after! I think everyone has to draw a line at what they will do to their body and for me, invisible body hair is where I draw mine - humans aren't supposed to be totally hairless! I've never tried waxing but I'm sure you can trust a salon in Osaka, as long as they don't pull that "your hair is different" crap!

Katrina - PLEASE hook me up with this woman!! How did you even find her?!

Helen Huntingdon said...

This is cracking me up. I have very dark hair and very pale skin, so I tried shaving my arms once. It cut wayyy down on sunburn, because sunblock went on better, so I keep doing it.

I thought references to "hairy gaijin" probably meant people like me whose body hair is visible in stark contrast in spots like forearms and calves, and that Japanese women never had that problem. Obviously, I was very much wrong.

Lisa said...

This is hilarious! There is a salon near me in Baltimore that does threading... I'll have to check it out.

I have a question for you and your readers. My husband and I will be making our third trip to Tokyo this November. I'm looking for some day trips outside of Tokyo, something no more than 2 hours away on the the train. We've been to Kyoto, Yokohama, Kamakura, Odawara, and Hakone on previous visits. Any thoughts? I will bring my sneakers and a map if I find myself in Saitama!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a lurker...

I've found an Indian lady in the 'burbs who threads. She is good (at threading) and although she offers other services very cheaply, it's not the same as a salon as she is working out of her home using everyday products. I can vouch for the threading though... google 'Florals' 'Salon' 'Nishi-kasai' and you should find her.

Hope this helps!

Ms. J

Katrina said...

Well I got my eyebrows threaded for the first time in a year and a half since I been living in Tokyo and it feels great!! The Indian woman I went to is the same one Ms. J mentioned, she calls her service Florals, here is the link for her website:

http://sites.google.com/site/beautyatflorals/Home

She did a really good job at threading my eyebrows (although she did hint towards also doing my upper lip which has fine blonde hairs that you can only see in sunlight, but I refused!)

Also had my legs waxed and the results were very good, better than some more expensive waxes I've had done in the past. Unfortunately she doesn't do bikini waxes though.
As Ms. J said, she works from her home in Nishi-Kasai so its a bit of a trek depending where you live in Tokyo, but she's a really nice woman and I recommend her.

Sorry its such a long comment. But hair removal is has been such an issue for me in Japan so to find others who have had the same problems is comforting!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Helen - Interesting that it cuts down on sunburn, that is definitely a plus in my books. We might have more hair in some cases but I think the biggest difference is in which hair we deal with and how we deal with it. That sounded kind of nasty.

Lisa - Ha on the Saitama note. Off the top of my head, what about Nikko? Or choose an onsen a couple hours away or a place you can visit on the shinkansen in a day? I will keep thinking...

Ms. J - Thank you!!! I found her salon and it looks perfect. It is even on the right side of the Palace for me!

Katrina - Thanks for the report! I am definitely making an appointment with this lady, I couldn't believe her prices. I love the new Nua place in Omotesando for bikini waxing but I am all about the 2000 yen leg wax. Now if only my hair and nails didn't cost so much...

Lisa said...

Thank you - Nikko sounds like a great idea! http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3800.html says they have great autumn foliage and it's got some temples and shrines, which appeal to me, and monkeys, which will appeal to my husband.

If you think of any place else I would love to hear about it! Hooray for the Internet!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to comment on a really old post but can guys do this?

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Anon: Can guys get threaded? Yes, I'm sure they can. The male waxing market is apparently growing so I assume there are places that accept male customers. I don't know about the threading places here in Tokyo but I know Nua waxes men. Good luck!