We were just walking along the street to let my brother experience, well, walking along Takeshita-dori. I think he was glad he’d reached the famous Harajuku.
There wasn’t much shopping involved. The only thing thing that my brother wanted to shop for… was a bottle of temporary hair color at Matsumoto Kiyoshi, a huge drugstore that’s located at the heart of Takeshita-dori.
Before my brother came to Japan, I’d advised him to buy new clothing for the trip and asked him to cut his hair and shave. I did that for a reason.
The Japanese, sometimes regardless of gender or age, are usually quite well-groomed. The ladies look like they’ve just gone out from a hair salon. The men get their brows groomed. The grandmas… they wear red lipstick inside the train (I have witnessed!) They take the effort to look presentable, like it’s instilled in their culture. Hence, when you’re in Tokyo, you’d be surrounded by generally attractive people and when you’re surrounded by good-looking people, it’s easy to feel a little inferior.
Yes, I said inferior.
When I first visited Tokyo four years ago, I thought I wore enough makeup when I lined my eyes with thick, jet black liquid liner. After being in Tokyo for a day or two, my friends and I began feeling so plain and uncivilized! We ended up buying makeup from the drugstore and wore them over lunchtime at an empty Indian restaurant in an effort to be more Japanese.
This would also explain why some of the people you know dramatically change once they return from studying in Japan.
Back to the story of my brother — he shaved his head and facial hair as per my suggestion, but as a person who’s never really been into clothes, the only clothing item that he’d shopped for… were new boots. As I feared, he noticed how men dressed and styled their hair in Tokyo and felt a little out of place with his windbreaker, old woolen scarf and dated backpack. How he described the feeling:
“Rasa macam semut kecil yang boleh dipijak-pijak.”
If I had succumbed into getting myself new mascaras, eyeliners and fake lashes while I was in Tokyo, my brother bought hair color, to make himself blend in and feel more… Japanese.
Want to see his hair in the color of Slam Dunk’s Hanamichi’s? Wait for it.