For many people, finding a good hair salon is almost as personal as finding a good physician. The person who takes care of your hair must be someone you like and can trust with an important part of yourself. Often the search can be expensive, both to your pocketbook and to your self-esteem. Trying to build that kind of relationship in a foreign country can be even more frustrating. In Tsukuba it seems like there is a hair salon on every corner and I am sure amny of them are very good. But if you cannot communicate with the stylists, the chances are slim you will be happy when you walk out the door.
When I arrived in Japan 10 months ago I was fortunate to find an excellent stylist who caters to the international community in Tsukuba. His name is Masaru Kubota and he owns J-Cool International Hair Salon.
Kubota-san is a native of Ibaraki Prefecture. He received his barber's license from Ishioka Barber School and worked as a barber for two years while taking courses toward a cosmetology license. In 1994 at the age of 21 he won the Free Style Division of the Ibaraki Hair Styling competition. He moved to the United States in 1998 to study English and attend cosmetology school for a year. He stayed another three years, working at the Mane Event hair salon in Kentucky. While there he attended seminars at the Momotaro International Salon in New York and traveled to London to study at the famous Vidal Sassoon Academy.
The desire to open his own salon brought Kubota-san back to Japan and home to Ibaraki and its large international community. But competition in Tsukuba is tough as more and more aslons open in anticipation of the boom expected to accompany the new train. In order to succeed, Kubota-san knew his salon would have to be different. His ability to understand and speak English was his first advantage. From the space age hair dryers to the television screen in the mirror at each station playing MTV videos he designed his styling salon/barber shop with an international flair and included other personal touches not found in most salons. In January 2004 his dream became a reality as J-Cool opened its doors.
J-Cool is not just a place to get your hair cut; it is an experience. You are pampered in a pristine environment from the moment you walk in the door. Your personal belongings are secured behind the counter, you are served coffee or tea, a warm towel is placed over your face as you hair is shampooed with clouds of fragrant suds, and the cares of the day are massaged away by the strong fingers of some of the most talented artists I have experienced. Whether your hair is colored, permed, straightened, cut or just styled, your comfort and satisfaction are always the prime concern. In addition, since manicures and pedicures are not traditionally offered in salons in Japan, Kubota-san provides the supplies if you would like to use them while sitting under the dryer. A complete array of barbershop services is offered for men including stylists specializing in short hair.
J-Cool is open from 10am to 10pm Tuesday through Friday and from 9am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are recommended on the weekends. International clients receive a discount on most salon services. J-Cool is located at Ninomiya 1-24-7 (between Doho Park and Ninomiya House). You can reach them by telephone (029-855-4151) or you can make an appointment through the website (http://www.j-cool-japan.com).
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