Byoin ni ikimasu

The Beerhound locks have become rather unkempt of late and so, after a courage-bolstering trip to Yebi-san’s fine drinking and yakitori establishment near to Nishi Ogikubo station, I decided to take the plunge and have a haircut. The problem was – where to go?

To be more precise, which of the roughly hundred thousand barbers, stylists and hairdressers within a 1km radius I should visit. I’ve never seen such a high concentration of hair-care specialists in such a small geographic area. It’s almost like every other shop is something to do with hairstyling. Having neat hair is clearly a major preoccupation of the good people of Nishi Ogikubo, only narrowly eclipsing their enthusiasm for stamping their names on things – judging by the number of hanko shops.

I finally chose a place quite close to our house. Big M tried to explain to the barber what I wanted: Out came the styling books; in true Japanese style, the conversation ranged far and wide, encompassing every aspect of my life. The hair should be short, because of physical pursuits such as running and martial arts. Yet not overly so because of my professional life and the fact that short hair tends to make me look a little too aggressive (moi?). Inevitably, the delicate subject of my bald spot popped up in the conversation.

Yes it’s true, certain areas of the Beerhound bonce are a little threadbare. Being 6ft 2 means that few people here every get to see it, but for the record, I don’t really have a problem with it. All my angst was worked out many years ago – the Summer I first got a sun-burnt head! However, being the consummate professional, the barber tentatively raised the prospect of “the barcode”

The term “barcode” rather accurately describes the effect on the average Japanese male of what we in England would call the “comb-over” or “Bobby Charlton”.

There is no power on Earth that would ever induce me to indulge in this most transparent of self-delusions. Nothing could look so ridiculous, nor reveal so much about the fragile sense of self-worth of its wearer, than the comb-over.

Not that I need it, anyway.