Aspiring Myanmar beautician Yin Myat Noe Aung came to Japan with the hope of opening her own salon back home one day.
The 23-year-old, who graduated this month from a beauty school in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, said she wants to introduce and make Japanese hospitality popular in her newly democratized country.
“I would like to contribute, in whatever way possible, to making Myanmar as hospitable a country as Japan,” she said.
Born in Yangon, she started studying Japanese seven years ago, due to the influence of her mother, Yin Yin Aye, 47, who also studied in Japan.
A successful businesswoman, her mother opened her own beauty salon in her hometown after she returned to Myanmar. Yin Myat Noe Aung grew up watching the people who worked in her mother’s salon and began to aspire to become a beautician herself.
“It’s a wonderful job, one that helps make people beautiful,” she said.
Though a license is not required to work as a beautician in Myanmar, she wanted to learn the techniques properly, so she traveled to Japan in October 2010 for training. She stayed with a family friend in Taiki, Mie Prefecture, and six months later she started attending the Asahi Beauty Culture & Hair Dressing College in Tsu.
“At first, I had difficulty with the terms used in hair salons, like ‘cut’ or ‘shampoo,’ since they are not written in Japanese,” she recalled.
She was impressed with the way beauty salons are operated in Japan. A few employees work on one single customer each time and share pleasant conversation.
The same went for other stores, she recalled. Staff in retail stores and pharmacies would always approach her to offer their services and patiently explain the products. The 2½ years she spent in Japan as an international student were filled with amazement.
“I think Japan ranks first when it comes to customer service. You can tell that they really pay attention to the details,” she said.
A diligent student who is popular with her classmates, she graduated from the beauty school on March 11.
“She is a lovable person. She is hardworking and is always there when you need someone to talk to,” said her friend, Hiromi Sakakura, 20.
After almost half a century of military rule, Myanmar made the transition to a democratic government in March 2011. While Yin Myat Noe Aung was living in Japan, her country rapidly grew as a democratic country and has since made rapid economic progress.
Most people in Myanmar have black hair, but more and more people are following fashionable trends by dyeing or straightening their hair, she said.
When she returns to Myanmar in April, she plans to work in her mother’s salon.
“Someday, I want to open a salon that will be well-known for its excellent customer service. I want to utilize what I learned about the culture of hospitality in Japan (and spread it throughout Myanmar) through beauty salons,” she said.
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published in the March 13 evening edition.