Unorthodox barber doesn’t do dos

Kuniyoshi Konishi has struck gold with his new barbershop venture — by adopting such oddball ideas as vacuuming the heads of customers after cutting their hair.

Konishi, a 56-year-old former medical consultant, opened QB House in Tokyo’s Kanda District last November. Since then, the shop has attracted a huge crowd, serving as many as 150 customers a day. The key to his success: A 10-minute haircut for 1,000 yen.

Konishi, who had no previous experience in the hair-grooming business and does not have a barber’s license, brought the cost down by doing away with frills. A hairdo at a typical Japanese barber costs about 4,000 yen, takes between 40 minutes and an hour, and involves four stages — cutting, shampooing, shaving and hair-arranging, Konishi says. “Which means each part costs 1,000 yen,” he says. “We do only the cutting part and get it done in 10 minutes.”

The most unconventional decision he made was to eliminate the shampoo service, Konishi says, adding that many barbers were surprised at the idea at first. “Barbers feel their reputation is built on a shampoo technique,” Konishi says. “But anyone can wash their hair at home.”

He also came up with the idea of vacuuming customers’ heads so they don’t feel itchy after a haircut. The compact four-seat shop in Ginza has no telephone, toilet or cashier. Inside the entrance is a ticket machine where customers stick a 1,000 yen bill, pick up a ticket and fall into a chair.