The great orange hair disaster

Looking in the mirror the other day, I noticed my hair was getting pretty shaggy. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so, though, as I had heard (in the typical Japanese fashion) from a co-worker of a co-worker who was a friend of the section chief that the center chief wanted me to get a haircut as apparently it was “too long for a man”. While the egalitarian in me wanted to shout out in protest (“too long for a man…!? What century do you think you’re living in!? “) the pragmatist in me simply heaved a sigh, said “this is Japan” then went about its passive-aggressive revenge by delaying said haircut for a week while purposely showing up extra early for the morning meeting every day, hairdo on full, shaggy display. My panda, how petty you have become.

Now normally when I attend to the racoon stapled to my head that I call a hairdo, I go to a salon in another prefecture because they do a good job and are quite skilled at putting in highlights. While in the big city you can literally throw a stone and hit a half dozen salons that can color your hair any shade you could ever imagine, up here in the more conservative inaka your average salon limits to you to a depressingly uniform selection of 15 different variations of pale brown, optimized for Japanese hair and sensiblities. Not particularly caring for pale brown “highlights”, I am generally forced to resort to hopping on the train to the aforementioned salon an hour away, where one can sample all the colors of the rainbow – including the dark red which I like.

orange hair side shot

While I’ve always been happy with the results, it’s also conflicted me a bit as well – after all, travelling an hour and a half just to get my hair done is not exactly something that I’d like to think “jives” with my “world view”. After all, I don’t want to be that guy (usually “that girl“, but we’re all about breaking down the gender barriers today in the House of Panda) who travels all the way to another city – let alone to another prefecture just to get their hair done. My conscience weighing on me more heavily that usual (and the fact that the train ride adds a good 3000 yen and 3 hours to the total affair), I made up my mind to get my hair done somewhere local. After all, there had to be somewhere that carried the dark red tone I liked, right?

I call up a few places before settling on one in the next town over – Tennis has used them before and always been happy, so I figured “why not give it a shot?” (ahh, famous last words). After confirming – several times – that they could do dark red highlights, I make a reservation over the phone and show up at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The place is nice – not too pretentious , not too downmarket. A little too-wannabe-swanky, especially for its location next to a lumber yard, but I can live with that. I get a decent vibe from the staff, who seem quite friendly. After a few minutes wait, the stylist comes over and asks how I would like my hair done. I point to a picture in the magazine helpfully provided.

orange hair close up

“Like this kind of cut” I say. Flipping the page, I point to a picture of a man with subtle red highlights in his otherwise dark black hair. “With these kind of dark red highlights, please.”

She confirms. “Okay, so this cut…” – she scribbles some notes down on the receipt – “and red highlights. Like this color?” she asks, pointing at the picture.

“Like that color, but a little darker.”

“So between red and brown?”

“Yes, but more red than brown, please.”

Kashikomarimashita .” (“It will be no problem at all”) – one final scribble, and I’m wisked off to get my hair done.

Three hours later, I’m sitting in front of the mirror after the final touches are put on. My stylist – who was actually quite a nice person – stands in front of me, carefully considering my hair. She’s trying valiantly, but I can tell something’s up. She sucks in her breath.

“….aka desune…..” (“Wow, it sure is red, isn’t it?”)

compare to a blaze orange vest

I’m staring at the mirror, trying desperately to convince myself that what I’m seeing is not in fact as….orange as it appears. Must be a trick of the studio lighting, yeah? Yeah, you can never tell with these strange salon lights…. At any rate, I have to be somewhere in 15 minutes, so I don’t have time to argue or examine too closely. I tell her I’m happy, absentmindedly pay the 12000 yen bill while trying to catch different angles of the disturbingly bright-looking highlights in the mirror, then hightail it out of there to my private lesson.

I’m tutoring the doctor this particular evening, and no sooner does he open the door than his face breaks out into a tremendous chuckle.

“Wow” he laughs “are you going to a halloween party?” It is at this moment that I realize I am fucked.

you know it's trouble when your hair's more orange than autumn!

The pictures pretty much tell the whole story, so I shall spare you a lengthy diatribe. How such a disaster could have unfolded is beyond me – somewhere along the line, someone who works at a hair salon that charges $120 for a hair cut should have stopped the process and said to themselves “you know, I don’t really think that this is such a good color to put in a person’s hair…”. Alas, however, for reasons that shall forever remain mysterious to me, they did not, and as a result, I was left with hair smeared with streaks of what can charitably described as “brighter than the brightest flourescent blaze orange”.

It went without saying that no amount of rationalizing and looking at my flourescent hair disaster under dark lighting was going to change the fact that if I walked into work the next day with this color hair, I would be fired on the spot, and so with my last 1500 yen, I bought a box of dark brown hair dye at the store on my way home and a few hours later, there I was, with the world’s most expensive boring dark brown highlights on black hair. So it goes my friends, so it goes. And I, for one, shall be hopping on a train to my old salon the next time I need to get my hair cut, because blaze orange hair, unfortunately, is one fashion forward step this poor panda’s just not stylish enough to pull off.

onsen kuma chan(s) help out!

In other news…

I am currently sick as a dog, so my apologies for the lack of updates. Have tweaked the site layout some, including the following changes:

- Removed the “featured photo” from the front page. Now the photo gallery exists independent of the blog section.

- Installed Tamlyn Rhode’s excellent Singapore image gallery script to handle the gallery section. Remarkable piece of software that’s highly customizable, well thought out and best of all – free.

- Uploaded three random photo galleries: Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo. These will be changed and edited later (adding in information, for one), but are just there to show the scripts work for now.

- Created a “Recent News” section (which is what you’re reading right now) – featuring shorter, more “bloggy” pieces and posts relating to day-to-day life. Hopefully by limiting the length of posts in this section I can inspire myself to write more often (and concisely!), instead of the “once-every-two weeks” posting schedule I’ve unfortunately slipped into over the past year.

- Created a second section called “Featured Entry” which will showcase the drawn out, 15-20 page posts I occasionally poop out when no one is around to act as my editor. Hopefully this will still be updated at the normal “once every week or two” pace.

- Changed random bits of the two stylesheets (have you tried them yet? Click on the Bamboo Widgets “style sheet switcher” icon over on the right hand sidebar!) to help smooth out some wrinkles. Let me know if you run into any errors with older browsers.

That’s it for now. Back to laying fevered and half-dead in my futon. Man, I hate being sick…

Now listening to: Kanye West – Bring me down (feat. Brandy)
“I always knew that… one day they’d try to bring me down…

61 Reactions

  1. momolo

    ohhh, i like the highlights though! and look at all those pandas!!
    my parents still use the word oriental. i used to harp on them alot, especially wduring my super-vigilant-asian-american-activist phase, but now i just let it go. they’re old; let them do their thing.

  2. bellish

    Now using that jacket as an inspiration perhaps you should go for orange hair with bright blond highlights next time. Let me know next time you go to the next ken for colour and I’ll come with you to shop!

  3. Scrub Uniform

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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