Being Blonde in Japan

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from one blonde to another

I finally took the plunge at the end of December and went back to the colour that I feel the most comfortable with, blonde. As a child I had blonde hair, started to colour my hair in junior high school, and all throughout university I stayed blonde. Only before I moved to Japan I decided to change up my look and colour my hair darker.

When I moved to Japan, my hair was close to its natural colour with blonde streaks. I didn’t speak Japanese well enough upon moving here, so for almost two years I had let my hair grow out. My hair took on the ombre look and thankfully for me, everyone was all about ombre at the time.

Having natural hair and not having to worry about the monthly root touch-ups and applying purple shampoo was very refreshing. I was able to have a relationship with my hair that I don’t ever remember having. The best part was that fact that I didn’t have to worry about poodle (frizzy) hair as much during the rainy season.

Around the end of August, I started to feel bored with my hair so I chopped it all off to a “lob” (long bob). After a couple of months, I still felt like I was missing something so I talked to my best friend of 18 years and came to the conclusion of “just do it”.. and do it I did…

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I went to a salon in Tokyo that caters to “gaijin” (foreigner) hair with English speaking staff. I showed to the photo of what I would like to achieve. To make an extremely long story short, the bleach was left on my scalp for way too long under a heater and I received massive chemical burns. I told the staff while under the heater I was in extreme pain and eventually they let me wash it out of my hair. I noticed my hair was steaming… I had the chemical burns for about two weeks. Every time I washed my hair, the burns would puss and my hair would stick to the back of my head. The results of this salon = chemical burns and overpriced.

The second time around, I chose a different salon in Yokohama that the owner and stylist was in Los Angeles for about 10 years working with Americans. I expressed what happened last time and that I would like to not have not many chemical burns and I walked out of the salon an extremely happy customer. Platinum blonde, toned hair, without a chemical burn, and an appointment books for the following month.

The high end, overpriced salon in Tokyo cannot even compare to the quality and service I received in the small personally owned hair salon in Yokohama. The lesson I ended up learning the hard way was that not all the glitters is gold. Sometimes we tend to think that bigger brands and companies are better. The price tag is more expensive because it is high quality etc… This was not the case with these two hair salons.

I do have to state though, if you are a foreigner living in Japan and already feel uncomfortable with the stares you most likely receive on a regular basis, don`t change your hair to blonde or red. These hair colours are not naturally the norm here in Japan so: 1.) You are bound to standout even more and 2.) Your company may ask you to change your hair. Luckily for me, FROZEN is a big hit here in Japan and my students love the Disney movie. Instead of them reacting badly and giving me negative attention, coined me “Elsa 先生 (sensei/teacher)” for about a week and a half. After the week and a half of buzzing, I went back to being just regular old “Jennifer 先生 (sensei/teacher)”.

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BEFORE

 

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AFTER

If you plan on taking the plunge to a dramatic hair colour in an Asian country, I suggest you be careful, possibly ask your boss if the colour or cut is alright, and good luck with the language barrier!! 頑張って!!

Ta-ta for now,

Jennifer    XOXO

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Valentine’s Day in Japan

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Can you feel it? That ever so sweet twinge in the air that starts in the beginning of February every year and abruptly ends after February 15th. Have you guessed yet as to what I was referring too? You got it, VALENTINES DAY.

Every year, thousands of people begin to scan their brains for ideas on how to make this Valentine’s Day more memorable for their long-time partner or trying to impress their new love as it is their magical first valentine’s day together. Valentine’s Day for couples that are without children and/or young children tend to be more focused on one another while people with older children flock to the idea of a family Valentine’s Day celebration. And last but certainly not least, we have our singles out there that are celebrating by getting drunk with friends bashing exes or those who don’t participate in this commercial holiday whether single or not. I wonder which category some of my readers fall into??? Nevertheless, we all somehow get sucked into some kind of opinion about valentines, good or bad.

Valentine’s Day from where I am from (Canada) is a couple’s holiday where you exchange something on the day of February 14th and that’s the end of it. In Japan, it is a completely different ritual. Here, girls and women of all ages flock to their local grocery and confectionary stores to buy packaging, chocolate, and decorations in preparation for their big day.

February 14th is the day that females will either make homemade chocolates or buy chocolates and give to their male counterparts. This is a chance for some of the more shy Japanese women to have an excuse to direct a subtle hint towards someone they may fancy. But on the other hand, it is also common for female co-workers to give their male co-workers chocolates without any meaning attached. Therefore, if you have an office crush, I suggest that you make a more special chocolate for that secret someone.

Now the real interesting and tricky part is March 14th, also known as “White Day”, men are supposed to return the favor and give chocolates back. Now, this is how you can really tell if the person you fancy is interested because if you receive something back, the saying goes they are also interested in you! These days though in 2015, I never read into it too much the return of chocolates because 1.) Japanese people are all about being polite so I always tend to think I am getting chocolate because I gave chocolate and 2.) They assume that possibly I don’t understand the concept of White Day so I can’t think too deeply like possibly other women.

Either way, I don’t mind! Who is going to turn down chocolate… not me, that’s for sure. I am already anticipating February 14th because some of my students told me they are giving me chocolates!!!!!

How will you be spending your valentines and what traditions do you follow back at home in your country? I will be spending my Valentines day attempting to make these:

pancakes

Ta-Ta for now

Jennifer

XOXO

Pretty Vamped: dark lipstick for thin lips

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The internet`s advice for people with thin lips is always along the same lines of “don`t wear this because it makes your lips look smaller” blah blah blah insert advice of shimmer tones for fuller lips here.

Yes, I suppose people with thin lips tend to look not as youthful as people with fuller lips, and yes it is more difficult for others to apply lipstick on us, BUT we can to use our product for longer. Less surface area to cover! Some places in Asia embrace the idea of thin lips and society accepts it as beautiful just like full lips are other places.

Truth be told, I am tired of hearing everyone wants fuller lips… why not just embrace yourself and what you have and make it work. Regardless of what others may suggest to me, this is how I choose to behave and I never turn a blind eye away from a lip colour just because my lips are small.

A beautiful colour that is on trend these past couple of autumn/winter seasons are a dark berry, purple-black lip. Thankfully, it is falling over into spring/summer. Rejoice! How to apply a darker lip? Invest in a lip liner and fill in your lips followed by a topcoat, your lipstick. BUT, if you don’t have a lip liner, don’t fret! Line your lips with the pointy part of your lipstick to act as a guideline for your lipstick when applying.



My favorite dark lip colour right now is “smoked purple” by MAC. It is a one of their matte lipsticks. Have you ever tried a matte lipstick? They can be a little difficult to apply but worth it in the long run. They are long lasting and personally, I prefer my darker colours in a matte. Why? I find they bleed less onto my skin. Just be careful when applying a matte lipstick because it can be hard to fix a mistake. Another tip, when applying is stretch your mouth open so all the creases and wrinkles in your lips will be filled by the product. Matte lipsticks can become a little flaky after a while so use a clean toothbrush to gently remove any excess flakes that appear.

If you`re going to venture over into the realm of vampy, dark, and daring remember, keep it neutral on the rest of the face. It is a great way to start. The more daring and comfortable you feel, the more you can up your game or play with other makeup looks on the eyes. Confidence is key so, you better werk b*tch!

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Ta-ta for now,

Jennifer

XOXO