Random Observations: Part 4

Here is Part 4 of my Random Observations posts, written while I’m into my fourth day in Kyoto. I took a break from temples today to visit more cosmopolitan parts of Kyoto, which was a pleasant experience heightened by the great weather.

Here we go:

– Now that November has come and the weather begins to drop a little (although it’s still only in the low 50s at night in Kyoto, not bad at all) I’ve seen many people wrapping themselves up and muttering samui, samui… (it’s cold…) as if the sun had disappeared forever and left the world a frozen wasteland. I think it’s more an involuntary reaction more than them actually feeling that cold, but it’s amusing nonetheless.

– Getting a haircut in Japan is a totally different experience. After 5 weeks here, I figured I should get my hair cut soon. While I was out walking through central Kyoto today (as usual with no real direction in mind), I happened to pass by a nice-looking barbershop, so I figured why not.

Barber extraordinaire

Barber extraordinaire

Let me tell you, this was by far the best haircutting experience I’ve ever had. I know it’s random (which is why I post in this category), but it really was awesome. It took a little over an hour in total, and included everything from him snipping my hair at lightning speed, shaving my unshaven face while using a steamer and like 5 different kinds of cream, to putting some kind of ice gel in my hair at the end that was amazing.

Like most things in Japan, this guy had turned haircutting into an art form, and I was sure to tell him it was the best haircut I had. It was fun too talking with him in Japanese because at first he looked worried since I clearly was a foreigner and his English was poor, but once we started speaking it was all smooth from then on.

– After my stop at the barbershop, I continued walking and found the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Manga are Japanese comics, and most of the time the original works that Japanese anime (animated TV shows) are based on. This museum, housed in what once was a school, has over 300,000 works of manga, all open for free reading on the museum premises.

People reading manga while relaxing in the museum garden

People reading manga while relaxing in the museum garden

Manga is a huge part of the Japanese culture, and is by no means limited to children or teenagers. Adults too read them, as there is a huge spectrum of manga catering to all genre and age groups. An interesting thing I observed was that many manga feature both characters and stories entirely unrelated to Japan. Hugely popular, it might be a way for regular Japanese people to enjoy a world different than the one they are surrounded by (‘the grass is always greener’, I guess).

– Moving on, another thing I’ve come across (which I’ve seen before and already knew about) is the popularity of dyeing one’s hair a brownish shade here, particularly among women, although many men do it too. This is honestly a phenomenon, and a question I’ve asked a few Japanese people I know about. While the number of people dyeing their hair has decreased slightly recently, if you came to Japan 10 years ago you might have thought Japanese women’s natural hair color was brown. I guess the short story is it’s a way to separate themselves from a nation and culture that harps so strongly on uniformity and groupism. Lately though, it’s become trendy to keep your hair its natural black color (who would’ve thought?).

That’s all for now. Thanks.

Random pics from today:

Central Kyoto is very spacious, posh and business-like

Central Kyoto is very spacious, posh and business-like

Covered shopping streets (called shoutengai) are in every major city and house hundreds of shops

Covered shopping streets (called shoutengai) are in every major city and house hundreds of shops

CoCo Curry, a fast food restaurant for Japanese curry. I love it

CoCo Curry, a fast food restaurant for Japanese curry. I love it

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4 responses to “Random Observations: Part 4

  1. Do want to see a pic if u finally clean shaven & spiffy!
    Fondly remember all those Manga comics u used to buy in Middle School…that’s how u caught the Japanese bug! Had no idea it would become a passion.
    As usual enjoyed ur anecdotes & pics 😊
    Take care & looking fwd to more 👍
    JSK & a very Happy Diwali 🙏
    Mom.

  2. Dear Bittudada, first of all, HAPPY DIWALI.
    Just out of curiosity, how much hair cut costs.
    Manga is becoming popular in India too. Lot of children read
    it, of course its in English language. Beautiful description of
    every thing you have visited & seen so far. Keep it up.
    We miss you a lot, at the same happy that you got the opportunity to visit Japan.

  3. Thank you, Baba! Miss you all too, but definitely having an eye-opening time here. The haircut was about $35. And there’s no tipping here so it was quite a good deal!

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