When traveling or living in Japan, at some point you’re going to have to get your hair cut. Whether you just want a trim or a completely new style, Japanese hair salons can do it all. Today, we’re going to learn a little bit about Japanese hair salons and a few phrases to ensure a smooth experience.

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Before We Begin…

As you may already know, the Japanese have a different quality of hair than most westerners. It tends to be thicker and, of course, naturally black. Because of this, the average salon is only accustomed to dealing with the Japanese quality of hair. Therefore, you’ll need to go in expecting to make a few special requests that are outside of the hair stylist’s normal routine.

Japanese Phrases for Getting a Haircut
Japanese Phrases for Getting a Haircut

One major complaint from westerners is that because Japanese hair is on the thicker side, stylists will default to using thinning scissors (すきバサミ, sukibasami) to thin your hair out without telling you. If your hair is already thin, you don’t need the thinning scissor treatment, so you need to make it clear to your stylist if you don’t want them to use thinning scissors.

Please don’t use thinning scissors.
すきバサミを使わないでください。
Sukibasami wo tsukawanaide kudasai.

You should also make sure that the salon you choose either specializes in or has experience with non-Japanese clients. An English website is a good indicator of this.

Also, while it’s customary to tip your stylist in the US, in Japan there is no tipping. Everything is included in the final price.

Making an Appointment

Here are a few vocabulary words for making an appointment over the phone or through the salon’s website.

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
reservation/appointment予約yoyaku
hair stylist美容師biyōshi
haircutカットkatto
permパーマpāma
colorカラーkarā
highlightsハイライトhairaito
straightening ストレートパーマsutorēto pāma
stylingヘアセットhea setto
business hours営業時間eigyō jikan
date日付hizuke
day of the week曜日yōbi
time時間jikan
…o’clock~時~ji
…thirty~時半~ji han

When making a reservation, you’ll need to let them know the date you are available, time, and a general explanation of what you want done. Below are three different tables of the names of the months in Japanese, the days of the month, and the days of the week.

Month Names

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
January1月ichi-gatsu
February2月ni-gatsu
March3月san-gatsu
April4月shi-gatsu
May5月go-gatsu
June6月roku-gatsu
July7月shichi-gatsu
August8月hachi-gatsu
September9月ku-gatsu
October10月jū-gatsu
November11月jūichi-gatsu
December12月jūni-gatsu

Days of the Month

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
1st1日tsuitachi
2nd2日futsuka
3rd3日mikka
4th4日yokka
5th5日itsuka
6th6日muika
7th7日nanoka
8th8日yōka
9th9日kokonoka
10th10日tōka
11th11日jūichi nichi
12th12日jūni nichi
13th13日jūsan nichi
14th14日jūyon nichi
15th15日jūgo nichi
16th16日jūroku nichi
17th17日jūnana nichi
18th18日jūhachi nichi
19th19日jūkyū nichi
20th20日hatsuka
21st21日nijūichi nichi
22nd22日nijūni nichi
23rd23日nijūsan nichi
24th24日nijūyon nichi
25th25日nijūgo nichi
26th26日nijūroku nichi
27th27日nijūnana nichi
28th28日nijūhachi nichi
29th29日nijūkyū nichi
30th30日sanjū nichi
31st31日sanjūichi nichi
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Days of the Week

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
Monday月曜日getsuyōbi
Tuesday火曜日kayōbi
Wednesday水曜日suiyōbi
Thursday木曜日mokuyōbi
Friday金曜日kinyōbi
Saturday土曜日doyōbi
Sunday日曜日nichiyōbi

When stating what time, you say the number followed by 時 (ji). So, for example, if you want to say “one o’clock” you say, “1時” (ichi-ji). If you want to say, “one thirty” you say, “1時半” (ichi-ji han).

Japanese Phrases for making an appointment

I want to make an appointment.
予約したいんですけど。
Yoyaku shitai’n desu kedo.
Do you have English-speaking stylists?
英語が話せる美容師がいますか?
Eigo ga hanaseru biyōshi ga imasu ka?
Can I book an appointment with an English-speaking stylist?
英語が話せる美容師の予約できますか?
Eigo ga hanaseru biyōshi no yoyaku dekimasu ka?
What are your business hours?
営業時間は何時ですか?
Eigyō jikan wa nanji desu ka?
I’d like to make an appointment for Sunday, March 1st.
日曜日の3月1日の予約したいんですけど。
Nichiyōbi no san-gatsu tsuitachi no yoyaku shitai’n desu kedo.
I would like a haircut.
カットしたいんですけど。
Katto shitai’n desu kedo.
How much is a haircut?
カットはいくらですか?
Katto wa ikura desu ka?

At the Salon

When it comes to getting your haircut in a foreign country, it’s important to have an idea of what you want before you arrive at the salon. If you have a picture of yourself after your last haircut and want the same, make sure to bring that picture along. If you want a new style, search the internet for styles you like beforehand, and be ready to show the picture to the stylist. The more prepared you are for your appointment, the more likely you are to get what you want. Also, be prepared to use hand gestures to show them how short you want your hair or how you want it to be styled.

At the SalonAt the Salon
At the Salon

Below are some vocabulary words for different hairstyles.

Salon Vocabulary

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
hair髪の毛kami no ke
frontmae
back後ろushiro
sidesyoko
topue
bottomshita
a layer cutレイヤーカットreiyā katto
a short cutショートカットshōto katto
a bob cutボブカットbobu katto
shoulder-lengthショルダーレングスshorudā rengusu
wavyウェービーuēbī
a dye jobカラーkarā
shampooシャンプーshanpū
conditioningトリートメントtorītomento
curlsカールkāru
make-upメイクmeiku
bangs/fringe前髪maegami
blonde金髪kinpatsu
red hair赤毛akage
brown hair茶髪chapatsu
black hair黒髪kuro kami
thick hair量が多いryō ga ōi
thin hair量が少ないryō ga sukunai
long長いnagai
short短いmijikai
light明るいakarui
dark暗いkurai
blow dryブローburō
recommendationおすすめosusume
cash現金genkin
credit cardクレジットカードkurejitto kādo
change (money)おつりotsuri

Japanese Phrases for getting your haircut

I’d like about 3cm shorter.
3センチぐらい切ってください。
San senchi gurai kitte kudasai.
Please cut it a bit shorter.
もう少し短くしてください。
Mou sukoshi mijikaku shite kudasai.
Please cut my hair so it’s shoulder-length.
肩まで切ってください
Kata made kitte kudasai.
Please cut my hair short in the back and leave it long in the front.
後ろは短くして、前はこのまま長くしてください。
Ushiro wa mijikaku shite, mae wa kono mama nagaku shite kudasai.
Please cut my bangs up to here (show with your hand).
前髪はここまで切ってください。
Maegami wa koko made kitte kudasai.
I don’t need a shampoo / conditioner.
シャンプー / トリートメント は結構です。
Shanpū / torītomento wa kekkō desu.
It’s too hot / cold.
暑い / 冷たい です。
Atsui / tsumetai desu.
My hair is damaged.
私の髪の毛はダメージしています。
Watashi no kami no ke wa damēji shite imasu.
How much time will it take?
時間はどれぐらいかかりますか?
Jikan wa dore gurai kakarimasu ka?
Do you have any recommendations for me for a cut and style?
私にとっておすすめのカットやスタイルはありますか?
Watashi ni totte osusume no katto ya sutairu wa arimasu ka?
What cut or style would look good on me?
私にとって何のカットやスタイルが似合うと思いますか?
Watashi ni totte nan no kattp ya sutairu ga niau to omoimasu ka?
What is a popular cut or style now?
最近、人気のカットやスタイルは何ですか?
Saikin, ninki no katto ya sutairu wa nan desu ka?
I want a cut like in this picture (show picture).
この写真のようにしたいです。
Kono shashin no yō ni shitai desu.
Do you take credit cards?
クレジットカードは使えますか?
Kurejitto kādo wa tsukaemasu ka?

Now that you have a few hair salon phrases to work with, it’s time to get out there and practice them at a real Japanese salon! Have fun with this, and if you want to clarify that they understand what you want, just say it again in English, and everything should be fine. Japanese hair stylists are very friendly and nice, so don’t be afraid to practice your Japanese on them!  

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