Blow your tops — free!

by Setsuko Kamiya

DATE, Hokkaido — Local residents blowing their tops over the prolonged evacuation caused by Mount Usu’s eruption may want to hang on to some of those fast-graying hairs now that a local beauty salon has come to their rescue.

A salon in Date’s largest shopping center is offering Usu evacuees free washing and blow-drying services as a way to cheer up those sheltering in the city.

“We came up with the idea partly because business was really slowing down due to the eruption,” said Michiyo Kakuta, head of Cybele, a beauty salon in central Date’s Saty shopping center.

Realizing that many of its regular customers could be evacuees, the shop decided to take action to alleviate their plight, she said. The idea came from a Cybele hair stylist whose family was forced to evacuate.

“When our president and I came up with the project, we were thinking of charging 500 yen for the service,” Kakuta said. “But she told us that if the evacuees had to pay, they would just go to a nearby hot springs instead.”

The salon, which usually charges anywhere from 2,900 yen to 3,400 yen each to wash and blow-dry hair, is getting an extra hand from shampoo company Nihon L’Oreal, which is donating free shampoo, she said.

After ironing out the details, employees put up eight handwritten posters in Date’s eight public shelters. As of Monday, 59 evacuees had taken advantage of the service, which the salon has decided to continue until the volcano calms down, she said.