So yes, after growing it out for about four years, I finally cut my hair on Friday!! It was SO refreshing ! And I mailed the chopped off hair to the Japan Hair Donation & Charity in Osaka on Monday. (The organization was apparently inspired by "Locks of Love" in the US/Canada whose purpose is to "provide hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children . . . suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis" (for example, undergoing cancer treatments).
The minimum hair donation length for the Japan Hair Donation & Charity is 31cm, but I think I actually chopped off roughly 75cm and sent in about 60cm. I didn't measure it exactly, but the braid was pretty close to the length of my kotatsu table (75cm), so I think 60cm is a good estimate--and probably another 10-15cm ended up on the hair salon floor.
I'd actually been wanting to chop my hair off to donate for a while, but since I've been a "night shower" person since coming to Japan, I thought I'd wait until I moved back to Canada (where I'm a "morning shower" person) before cutting it. But after deciding to re-contract for another year, I figured I couldn't wait any longer. Plus I've been feeling more and more sluggish in the mornings (probably because lately I've been sleeping between 1am-3am) so I felt like I needed some incentive to go to bed and wake up earlier.
(Basically having short hair means that I need to shower and spend a fair bit of time styling my hair in the morning--particularly with this new do. Consequently, since getting my hair cut I've been giving myself an extra hour or so to get ready in the morning. And in order to wake up earlier, I've also been sleeping earlier--around 12am. Vanity is a pretty strong motivator for me, apparently. =P)
Actually, the "new do" you see in the picture was a multi-step process. First I went in for a hair cut Friday evening. And there's actually a bit of a story to that, too...
See, I'd been planning since the previous week to go in around 4:30pm on Friday (I'd even gotten a recommendation for a good place to go from my stylish friend S). But after school on Friday, I got a call (~3pm) from my supervisor asking if I'd be willing to do an interview for a paper that has a regular column introducing ALTs in the area. So I ended up driving to Kirita and doing the interview.
The interview didn't take that long, but my kocho-sensei (school principal) kept the reporter afterward to talk with him about our school so I didn't feel like I could leave until he (kocho-sensei) had re-emerged from his office. That was around 5pm @_@ (We've got a special English program so only 1/3 of the students are from local elementary schools while the remaining 2/3 apply to come from other schools around Towada, so I guess he was hoping to drum up some extra publicity for the school.)
Even rushing home (still driving carefully, of course!) and washing my hair as quickly as I could, I didn't make it to the hair cutting place until right around 6pm. I felt a bit bad since closing time was 7pm (and not 8pm as I had thought), but after eagerly anticipating it for so long, I didn't want to postpone the hair cut even for just one night.
So once I was there, I explained that I wanted to take my hair home in a ponytail to donate. I was worried that they'd think I was really strange (it seems like most people I've talked to don't know about hair donations), but they understood what I wanted right away and didn't seem to think anything of it, so I guess they've done it before?
While my hair was getting chopped off, I looked through some magazines to try to figure out what type of cut I wanted. In fact I'd bought a couple of hair magazines featuring short/bob cuts shortly after deciding I'd cut my hair, but hadn't managed to find anything that I really liked. Thankfully I was able to find a style that I *did* like (and felt could work with my hair) fairly quickly.
After cutting my hair, the stylist offered to curl it for me so it would look more like what had been pictured in the magazine.
Seeing how it looked curled compared to when it was just cut, I thought maybe I should get it permed after all. (The magazine suggested a perm as well as a cut, and T-san at Kirita had also suggested that getting one would give my hair more volume, but I'm not a huge fan of putting lots of chemicals in my hair, so I resisted the idea.) Anyway, I asked the stylist whether getting a perm would enable me to have hair that looked like the hair I had at the moment, and she was like, "Well, if you get a perm and use some mousse or something, you can." Although I wasn't 100% committed to getting a perm yet, I did say as I was leaving that I would probably be back the next day.
After washing and blow-drying my hair the next morning, I realized that I really did need to get it permed--otherwise it would just be too flat and boring (although it was a nice cut).
So back I went to the hair place (Address in Towada Jusco, if you're interested...) for the second stage of my hair evolution. Thankfully the stylist who had cut my hair was there and available, so I didn't need to explain what I wanted to have done. And a 1.5-2hr later I walked out with a nice and natural looking perm. ^_^
The stylist at Address was really nice and friendly. (I recommend the place if you want to get your hair cut!) My friend S had tried to make an appointment for me (they don't make them for just regular haircuts, apparently) so she told them at that time that "an English teacher who speaks Japanese well" would probably be coming in. Anyway, since it was pretty clear from our conversation that I had never had a perm before and didn't really use any hair products, the stylist kindly explained to me how I could style my hair by myself. Her explanation was evidently pretty good, because I managed to get my hair looking pretty decent the next morning!
Oh, and a nice thing they did was, since I had just gotten my hair cut the day before, instead of charging me the regular (full) price for a perm, they calculated the cost as if I'd gotten a cut & perm. ^__^ So I used the money I saved to buy the wax and spray wax that the stylist had used when doing my hair. (I would've bought the stuff from the salon regardless because it was more convenient than trying to figure out what to use on my own, but anyway...)
So there you have it: the chronicles of my hair.
Oh, and just for the heck of it, these are pictures from the first time I decided to donate my hair way back in 2000. (I gave it to Angel Hair for Kids.)