Straight Perm in Tokyo

Today, I got my first professional haircut I’ve had since I was 15 years old, so I was a bit nervous and excited.

I went to Hair Salon Nalu in Omotesando in Tokyo. I found out about this place from Rachel and Jun’s YouTube video. I made my appointment using Hot Pepper Beauty and got a 20% discount. I got a haircut, a damage-free straight perm, and full makeup.


My hair is naturally very curly. If I let my hair air dry, it looks like the picture to the right. It looks nice, right? As long as I don’t brush it after it dries, it’s fine. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for me to go the whole day without brushing my hair.

If I don’t straighten my hair, and brush my hair like I normally would throughout the day, I end up looking more like the picture on the left. Because of this, I usually spend a lot of time straightening my hair before leaving the house. On days I oversleep or if I have an event where I want to look good, this can be troublesome in the mornings.

To make my life easier, I decided to try a Japanese straight perm.






The salon is about a five minute walk from Omotesando Station. The salon is over a cafe, and it’s not so obvious from the street, so I actually passed it at first.

The staff were very friendly, and several of them speak English. They seem to be popular with foreigners, as several other English speaking customers came while I was there.

First, they washed my hair and put some chemical that smelled like ammonia (possibly deep treatment?). Next, they cut my hair. Then, they put in a straightening cream before straightening it with a straightener. Each time they put cream in my hair, they put a giant slowly spinning heater behind me.

(My reaction the first time they pulled it out).

After the haircut and straightening were finished, I was surprised to receive a massage from the stylist. According to her, this is standard in a Japanese haircut, but most foreigners are shocked and are afraid that they are going to be charged extra for the service.

Finally, they did my makeup. I told them I didn’t have much experience with makeup, so they did natural looking makeup. The woman explained every part of the application process and where I could buy the products they were using if I decided to start using makeup regularly.

At the counter, they instructed me not to wash my hair for two days (not including the day of the service). Then they gave me some special conditioner to use when I finally washed my hair. They gave me an additional 500 yen off because I promised to write a review for them. The total came to 24,550 yen (around $245.50)




As you can see, they properly exercised my fuzzball. The straight perm was expensive, even at a discount, but I’m very happy with the results and will likely do it again in the future.








Made in America: The difference between 産, 製, 作, and 品

I was recently studying for the JLPT N3.  For those of you who don’t know, this stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The lowest level is N5, and the top level (equivalent to a native speaker) is N1. The level I took is N3, around intermediate level. While it’s not quite where I hoped to be after four years of university and two years of living in Japan, if I pass it I’ll be grateful.

I stressed and crammed a lot. After I finished a test and checked my answers, I always analyzed why I got a question wrong so that I could try to avoid the same mistakes on the actual test. I have many practice test books. The good ones have the answers as well as an explanation of each answer. However, the official JLPT N3 practice test, does not have explanations (not so helpful for students studying alone).

(Me trying to understand Japanese by myself)

I turned to my Japanese co-workers for help.

Made in America

In the book, the following sentence appears:

このオレンジはアメリカ (  ) です。

This means

This orange is (     ) America.


The answer options are:

産(san)         製 (sei)          作(saku)          品(hin)

From what I could tell, they all mean a product. I looked each one up in the dictionary to find out the difference.


Native of; product of

-made; make

Work, production, harvest, yield

Item, article

Even after looking up the meanings in the dictionary, I was still pretty lost. My Japanese co-worker was able to clear it up for me.

This mean “product”, but it refers to a natural product, like a crop or resource.

This mean “made”, as in “man-made”. So, this is used to signify a product that was made by humans, like bags or TVs.

This is another product made by people. It usually refers to a work of art, like a statue or painting.

This means a “product”, but it’s not used after a country’s name. The best way my co-worker could explain it to me is that “It’s simply wrong”.

The Answer!

While they all mean roughly the same thing, their usage is difference. In the above example, because the product is “oranges”, we have to use  because it’s a natural resource of the U.S.


I hope this helps clear up this question for you guys!



(This post has nothing to do with Trump–sorry if I mislead you).

Who Are You?: Determining Where Someone is from Using the Naked Eye




I was once walking down the street with my Japanese friend when a blonde, blue eyed woman passed by. He immediately turned to me and asked, “Where is she from?” I was instantly confused. How was I supposed to know that? He was adamant that he could tell the difference between Japanese and other Asians. Being from the U.S., the famed “melting pot” where birthplace is more usually more important than bloodline, this idea was strange and somewhat ridiculous to me.


It turns out that it’s a relatively common belief in Japan (and other Asian cultures, too, as shown in the video above) that you can look at someone’s face and know where they’re from based on genetic appearance. I’ve had other friends and past boyfriends express this to me as well, pointing to other people in Shinjuku and telling me, “Oh, that person is Korean. I know because [insert random facial feature information here]”

I wanted to find out if there was any truth to this.

The Answer

Continue reading “Who Are You?: Determining Where Someone is from Using the Naked Eye” >

Kaze wo hikanai de kudasai ne. (Don’t catch a cold!): Why do doctors treat a cold with antibiotics?

In Tokyo, the temperature is falling and the leaves are slowly dying. Everyone on the train is wearing a mask to protect themselves from getting a cold. “A cold” is translated as “風邪” (kaze) in Japanese. This word also means “wind”. It’s actually quite similar to our idea of the coldness around us making us sick, so our cultural ideologies about illness are comparable. But once you catch one, what should you do? That’s where we disagree.



One cultural misunderstanding that’s common between Japanese people and foreigners is how to deal with a cold. When Westerners have a cold, we usually don’t see a doctor because we believe there’s nothing the doctor can do; we just need to rest and get better. Whenever I have a cold, my Japanese co-workers urge me to go to see the doctor. They insist that any medicine I get from a pharmacy isn’t strong enough and that I need something stronger.
The few times I have seen a doctor, he prescribed antibiotics for a cold—a common practice in Japan. Westerners learn that antibiotics don’t work for colds. Are doctors trying to make patients happy by prescribing medicine? Are they just trying to make money off of you? Are they uneducated? Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading “Kaze wo hikanai de kudasai ne. (Don’t catch a cold!): Why do doctors treat a cold with antibiotics?” >