05 February 2017

A Kamakura Tale

As I was walking from Kamakura Station to the Daibutsu, I met these four monks travelling in the opposite direction. They all took off their hats before crossing the street - for the sake of road safety I suspect. I'm not sure which temple they belong to, but there are not too many nearby, so probably Hase Dera or Kotokuin.

If I spoke Japanese properly I could have begged them to line up on the crossing à la Abbey Road and taken a fantastic photo.

Anyhow, after encountering these monks -who clearly were unimpressed to be photographed- I went to see the barber nearby who was just opening his shop. Through pantomine and with the aid of google translate I explained I wanted my head shaved. I am sure the barber quoted 2000 yen for this service.

He was fairly elderly, maybe even 70, but very robust. His shop was rich with tonsorial antiques, like a glass cabinet full of steaming hot towels, such as we never see at hairdressers these days. As well, this being Japan, a lady who I am certain was his mother was also working in the shop.

So, for instance, when the barber would put something on the counter, she would wander slowly over and gently move the object two inches to the left. This kind of thing - that is what I mean by working.

Have you seen the film You Only Live Twice? There is a scene where Tiger Tanaka explains to James Bond: "I suppose you know what it is about you that fascinates them. It's the hair on your chest. Japanese men all have beautiful bare skin."

Thus, I was surprised and immediately amused when mother came over to me and grabbed a tuft of my chest hair, playfully twisting it and chuckling merrily to herself.

A few hot towels later, I did not complain when the barber charged me 3000 yen and pushed me insistently out his door.

Obviously, to say this was the best haircut I have ever had would be an understatement.

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