バリカン barikan—hair clippers

Every month I go to QB House to get my hair cut short.

QB House (I guess it stands for “Quick Barber”) offers a simple and straightforward deal: they will cut your hair in 10 minutes for 1000 yen. Slogan: “10 minutes Just Cut”.

 

Just inside the door is a ticket machine: you put in a 1000 yen note, take your ticket, and wait your turn.

At this price, you might expect a “no-frills” service, but in fact the service is really friendly and professional. They will cut your hair any way you want, and trim your eyebrows if you want, with no feeling of being hurried or subject to a time limit.

There are little TV screens at customer knee level showing headline news, and a retractable vacuum hose to remove all the stray cut hairs so they don’t end up down the back of your neck.

Maybe it really does only take 10 minutes, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

I like going to QB House for a number of reasons. By now, the lady who cuts my hair, Kishinaka-san, remembers how I like my hair cut, and I enjoy chatting with her. She speaks in a way that I find easy to understand, and being able to sustain a conversation in Japanese for 10 minutes gives me a badly-needed sense of accomplishment.

Here is a picture of the QB staff, who kindly agreed to pose for my blog. Kishinaka-san is in the middle:

Note on the word of the day:

I get my hair cut short all over with an electric hair clipper. In Japanese this is called a バリカン barrican. This is clearly a loan word, but I’ve no idea what language it came from. It’s just one of those mysterious words like ホチキス hotchkiss meaning stapler. I mean, it looks like an English word, and sounds like an English word, but that’s just not what it’s called in English. A real pitfall for Japanese people learning English.

The hairdresser asks me to specify the length of cut in millimetres. Now, back home I get a “number 3 blade”. As it happens, the blades are numbered in eighths of an inch, so a number 3 corresponds to 3/8″ or about 10 millimetres. But here I ask for 12 mm, which is almost a no. 4.

Another important word is 丸刈り marugari, literally meaning “round cutting”; in my case not quite “skinhead” but “same length all over”.

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5 thoughts on “バリカン barikan—hair clippers

  1. That’s awesome! I remember seeing the 10-minute barber shops in Japan and wondering if they were good. I didn’t end up getting my hair cut, but next time I go, I’ll try it out!

  2. Adding a comment to my own post to say:
    Barikan comes from the name of a French company, “Barriquand & Marre”;
    Hotchikisu (stapler) is interesting. There was a BB Hotchkiss who founded a French company that made weapons (for example the Hotchkiss revolving cannon, a kind of machine gun), military vehicles and cars. And there was an EH Hotchkiss who made paper fasteners (staplers). I think the Japanese wiki page says the two were brothers. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%AA%E3%83%81%E3%82%AD%E3%82%B9

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