Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Having unnatural hair in Japan part 2// bleached blonde hair at work

girl with silver hair outside Takeshita street Wego


After I'd studied abroad in Osaka, I wrote a post on having unnatural hair in Japan- how people reacted to my bleached hair while I was a student. It was something I'd been desperate to know before I started study abroad, and I'm so glad I posted it because I've had a couple of people say that it helped them decide to yolo it and keep their unnatural hair. I'm definitely glad I had fun with my hair while I was a student. This time I want to share how people reacted to my bleached hair at work.

First, a disclaimer:

 I'm white, and while blonde isn't my natural hair colour, I'm quite pale. So although it's quite obvious to British people that I bleach my hair, I think it fit Japanese people's image of what a 'foreigner' looks like, and they were maybe more predisposed to be nicer... (but that's a whole other blog post...) So I can't speak for everyone's different experiences and this is only about how people in Shizuoka city reacted to me. 


Something to bear in mind is that not that many people bleach their hair in Japan,

 it's something quite associated with yankii fashion and 'rebels' in general... I did get called a yanki a couple of times (fair enough).
 Although lots of people do dye their hair in Japan, it's usually to brown or ash blonde. Younger people, uni students and people who are into fashion do go for bleached, bright colours, but it's rare to see 'grown ups' with dyed hair as most jobs just won't allow it. 
And also you need to bleach a few times to get dark asian hair to go blonde, which I think is also a factor- lots of my Japanese friends who'd experimented with bright colours said they stopped bleaching their hair due to how damaged it'd got. 
Even at Summer sonic (a big rock festival), hardly anyone had bleached hair (which I was shocked about) I thought it was really interesting that people couldn't tell my music taste from my hair and clothes, whereas I think British people can immediately tell I'm a rock fan...

So why was I allowed to bleach my hair? 

My company was pretty chill- I had bleached hair in my interview and asked if I could keep it and they said yes! I think it is always worth asking, as long as you make it clear that you're open to dying it a more natural colour if the company wants. But I was allowed to keep my hair blonde, yessss! 
A lot of people I met presumed it was my natural colour, with a couple of people even asking if I dye my eyebrows...  And most people said it was really pretty! <3 I got asked if I was Russian or Eastern European a lot, which was cool! 
Although, when I asked if I could dye it ginger, I was told no as people would think it was more unnatural, as ginger is rarer. But back at home I was allowed ginger hair at school because it's a 'natural' colour. 

But although my company was really chill, I don't think that's the norm- when I interviewed at bigger hotels, I was told I'd have to dye it a more natural blonde and it definitely wouldn't be ok as an English Teacher.

So if you want to get a more formal job like an ALT or at a big company, I think you'd have to follow the same rules as Japanese people and have your hair a natural colour.

I'd love to hear you guys' experiences with dyed hair in Japan, (or wherever you are! Bleached hair gang unite!) and I'd like to write a little more about working and living in Japan as *not an ALT* because I think that I had a bit of a different experience.
Thanks for reading!
-Amy xoxo

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