Ellie and I went to Shimokitazawa together on Saturday. She wanted to get her hair done at a famous salon called Viva Cute Candy. Since we arrived early, we took the time to explore. Shimokitazawa is crowded, cramped, a small neighborhood packed with thrift stores and fashion trends. It's the coolest place to be. And the salon was true to it's roots. Oh, if you didn't know where to look, you would miss it. It was on the third floor of a tiny complex, and on the way up you passed a massage parlor.
The walls were cotton candy pink and blue. A mural in neon colors proclaimed "VIVA CUTE CANDY". This is a salon famous for being everything "kawaii", or cute, featuring crazy dyed hairstyles and shave designs. Iku, the head hairstylist himself designed the interior, which features rows of care bears and My Little Pony plates, and strings of Christmas lights.
While we waited, Ellie read through some magazines and some Harajuku literature, including a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu book, featuring KPP with mustaches and marker outlines and over-the-top fashion.
We sat down with Iku, and he asked Ellie what she wanted. Ellie looked to me to translate, so I explained that Ellie wanted to get her roots dyed and hair trimmed, preferrably to the "white" color matching the rest of her hair. Iku thought for a moment, not sure how exactly to match the white color (would a double bleaching be enough?). He began to trim Ellie's hair, dry. I was quite impressed. Iku's cutting technique didn't seem exact. He didn't measure up the ends like I've seen most hairstylists do for precision. But the cut he gave Ellie was very precise.
"What sort of design do you want?" he asked Ellie, and I translated. He gave Ellie a book with color photographs of previous designs. A couple of smily faces and geometric patterns with different colors lept out from the pages.
Ellie thought for a moment.
"I want to get sugoi." Iku thought for a moment, and then nodded. He gave Ellie a piece of paper with sugoi written on it in hiragana.
"Sugoi, eigo de nan to iu no?" he asked me. How do you say sugoi in English?
"Um..." I thought for a moment. "Amazing. Awesome."
The shaving began.
And then they bleached. First, the assistant put little ear caps on Ellie's ears, much like shower caps. They then bleached Ellie's hair twice, and it was a yellowish cream color, not a white color. Then Iku thought for a moment.
"Not White. Silver." He had solved the dye mystery! After washing out the dye, both assistants began blow drying Ellie's hair.
"I feel like Beyonce," she laughed.
Overall, the experience was around four hours. But definitely worth the wait. It was less expensive than an American salon, and Ellie's hair looked amazing. I definitely recommend Viva Cute Candy if you're looking for even a regular cut. The experience is amazing.