Straight off the bat – yes, Hiroshi speaks brilliant English, and yes he knows how to cut western hair. Two major pluses and a rarity in the Nag!
Hiroshi, from a family of hairdressers, spent ten years as a hairstylist in New York. He up and left Japan after getting a glimpse of the Big Apple while travelling, and knew it had something for him. He was shocked at how different the world was outside of Japan, and wanted to experience it and bring it back to share with the people of Nagoya.
Hiroshi studied with and worked for his bosses, Michio, who is a stylist for the New York and Paris fashion shows, and Shige, a famous Japanese stylist based in New York. On his third day on the job, Hiroshi noticed some random lady sitting, waiting for her color to set. She began doing her make-up and Hiroshi nearly tripped over himself realizing it was Björk! This was just the beginning for Hiroshi; he not only rubbed shoulders with celebrities in the salon, he got to do probably the most terrifying thing – cut and style their hair.
Hiroshi was surprisingly calm about it – he is very humble and has a cool head – you have to be very serious (because it’s a big responsibility), but also be relaxed. And when I was in his salon, with my home-job haircut, he treated me no different! He can show you books of models sporting his haircuts as well (you really are in good hands).
Hiroshi not only has a passion for hairstyling, he also loves interior design and urban spaces, which you will notice when you visit his salon. When he moved back to Japan after a decade to be closer to his family, he had a vision to create his own space that was comfortable and sophisticated.
This is not your ten minute; get your ticket from a machine, walk-in-walk-out barber shop. State Room is exactly what it describes. You will see nautical touches in the salon (I want his ceiling lights in my house), though I feel the entire space has a New York-style warehouse feel about it, on a miniature scale, with the exposed brick and rough concrete walls. His minimalist approach to the place also creates a clean, sophisticated vibe. And the pièce de résistance, the New York style, black leather barber chairs, complete with adjustable tray for your chilled water, green tea (from the best tea leaves near Kyoto), espresso (he has ordered a coffee machine and the best beans from his barista friend) or wine (night-time only).
I also like how the waiting area, which is the same size as the space where he cuts hair, has a bar-like feel. I can imagine this place coming to life at night like a speakeasy during prohibition (and Hiroshi did mention he envisages hosting little gatherings in the space). You will also find stunning books of Japanese photography, and Hiroshi can tell you all about them because he knows the photographers. Everything in his space has a story.
Cutting western hair in Asian countries is a big deal. I know myself and a number of girlfriends have been turned away from salons because they are too scared to cut our hair, or ex-pats will just wait until they return home to get a haircut. Enter: Hiroshi. I love the way he describes the difference between Japanese and western. Japanese hair is like denim and foreign hair is like cashmere. You can be rough with denim and it’s OK, but you have to be gentle and know how to handle cashmere. Hiroshi says that it is quite difficult to cut western hair because it is so fine, and this is why you will not find many hairdressers in Nagoya that cater to you. But do not fear – Hiroshi is more than capable of cutting your delicate hair!
Hiroshi cuts both men and women’s hair at a standard rate of ¥5000 (including blow-dry), which is a bargain considering how much you pay at home for a decent haircut – let alone from someone who cuts the hair of the stars! He also offers a discount if you return in six weeks for women or four weeks for men (which you should be doing!). Hiroshi also does coloring, foils, blow-drying and styling. And be prepared to chat and laugh with Hiroshi like you do in salons at home. This makes it worth the trip alone!
Stateroom Hair Salon