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  • Chuck Johnson

First haircut in 23 years


So not too long ago, I went and got my first haircut in over two decades. When I first came to Asia I had pretty long hair, and while I loved it, I had no idea how to maintain it on my own out here. I had never learned how to braid or dread it myself and as internet wasn’t really a thing yet, I couldn’t just look it up. As a function of that, I decided it just had to go.


On a trip back to the states, I went and got a nice looking haircut but when I got back to Korea, and tried to get it trimmed, the local barber was like “I don’t know what to do with this. It’s like wool.” so not knowing what else to do, I just gave up and just started shaving my head.

Eventually, once I started working in film out here, almost all the work I was getting was as a bad guy; and the skinhead look was better for that, so I just kept it. Fast forward to 2022, where there are enough black folks in Tokyo to properly support black barber shops, (and I’m doing a lot more than just being a bad guy) I thought, "There has to be someone running a proper black barber shop now." and decided it was time to find one.

Turns out there are a few. I decided to go for The 806 Room in Roppongi, as that was right by my dojang, and was surprisingly greeted by Lee, a friend of mine from Ghana that I used to do entertainment work with. Turns out he had been cutting hair for forever here, but I only ever knew him as an entertainer. Coming in, The place looked, smelled and felt like a proper black barber shop. I hadn't actually been to a barber since my early teens and it was wildly nostalgic. When I first paid a visit, I actually came with a Japanese friend who told me he had never smelled anything like it before, LOL.

The cut took about an hour. Lee trimmed up my edge lines, my beard, and facial hair, and gave me advice on how to maintain my hair and work towards getting proper waves. I also got hair gel and bought a brush. The last time I had used a brush was in my teens… and it occurred to me that that was my first time ever buying one in my life.

Getting a haircut is such a little thing; but when you haven’t had one in decades, you really realize how important it is for the sake of your own self esteem and dignity. One example is that anyone who knows me knows I’m always wearing a hat, but for the first time in my adult life, I don’t want to wear one; because my hair actually looks nice. A dear aunt that I admire a lot once told me that it’s always important to put your best foot forward and to look your best- not for other people, but for yourself. She told me that she didn’t put on her make-up in the morning for others; she did that for her own dignity and to start her day by holding her head up high, and after I started getting a regular haircut, I could really feel that.

Furthermore, as an athlete, I have always prioritized self care for my body (regular strength-training, massages, getting to bed early, etc…) but what I realized is that self care extends to your self image too. When you look good, you are more confident; when you are more confident, you radiate that out towards others and you also perform better in everything that you do. It’s a little thing; but like all things in life, it’s the collection of small steps that create great leaps forward. Looking forward to maintaining this. Onwards and forwards. #blackhaircare #blackbarbertokyo #theroom806 #blacksintokyo #selfcare #selfimage #selfconfidence

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