Wielding a hair dryer in one hand, a comb in the other, and with another comb held between his teeth, hairdresser Hideki Sato, 34, tackles the jet-black locks of a male model.

Within 10 or 15 minutes, a super-precise and strangely symmetrical combed-back style emerges in front of a mirror at the Mitaka salon of Hair Resort Clips, one of Sato's three shops in western Tokyo.

At the front, the model's hair is blow-dried so expertly that it stands up 6 cm from his forehead, while on top it's a dead-flat surface. Viewed from the side and the back, the model's head is square-shaped. His hair is so impeccably combed, with not a single strand out of place, that Sato points out the shiny line that runs — circling his crown — rather like those hamon temper-line patterns so highly regarded along the length of a traditional Japanese sword.