My Hair Journey Since Coming to Japan

(As usual, I don’t have the time to edit my posts so I apologize in advance for any errors, grammatical or otherwise.)

Well, there are no salons that can handle black hair in my part of Japan.

The only thing they do in those salons, I think, is dye, wash and style. Braids? What are those.. treatment, relaxer? Never been heard of. The Japanese have the straightest hair I have ever seen. Digressing a litte. Speaking of which, why the hell do they have Scarlett Johansson doing a shampoo ad in Japan? In a nation of 128 million people, there isn’t a single, long, straight- haired actress who could do it?

When I first arrived in October, 2014, I had freshly retouched hair. It acquired growth and I had a friend retouch it for me at home. I had brought over some Beautiful Beginnings hair relaxer. My hair fell out in droves at that time and again the second time I retouched while in Japan. It doesn’t help that I bleached it blonde in order to dye it.

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I am a princess, welcome to my castle ☺

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Bored with the same hairstyle for months, I decided to “express myself”. As a foreign student in Japan, I can wear my hair or dye it in any style and no one would be bothered. If they are, they sure are keeping it to themselves!

So I decided to dye my hair purple. I thought that it would look good and it did! But first, I had to bleach it blonde so that purple would “shika”.

I was blonde for 2 weeks during the hanami season of 2015.

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Who says I can't be a bleached blonde 🙂

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Enjoying the spring flowers:

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Immersing myself into the full #hanami experience

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I ordered Manic Panic Purple Hair Dye from and it arrived on my doorstep 2 days later. I haven’t signed up for Amazon Prime yet.

It still looked great even after a few washes. Manic Panic dyes are organic and semi-permanent so they do fade out, eventually.


With my friend Akiko-chan at Mount Tateyama in April, 2015. In the background are Shu Shu and Aidah, who photobombed our selfie! Boy, was it cold up there.

Eventually, the purple faded and feeling adventurous, I tried blue 4 months later. It didn’t “shika” so well but I rocked it anyway.

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#notAWig #rockstar 😛

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That’s the summer that my friends and I decided to walk to some waterfall on Tedori River all the way from Tsurugi, the local town. We weren’t even sure what the distance was, ended up lost in some village and a kind Japanese family gave us a ride to the waterfall. We later took the bus on the way back.

tedori river waterfall

Enjoying the cooling effect of the Tedori river waterfall on a humid summer day, August, 2015.

That September, I went home to Kenya for a month and got neatly done braids.

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Hairstyle change #braids #sleepingUprightTonight

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Fast forward to October, 2015.

I came back to Japan with Jeremy, and tried to make the braids last for some months. They lasted 2 months! One night, after Jeremy had gone to bed, I sat on the sitting room floor and started to take off the braids, one by one. I was so tired because Jeremy was adjusting to life in Japan and it took a physical toll on both of us. I was also taking 2 classes, having officially begun my PhD. This means I had reports and assignments to do, not forgetting weekly PhD meetings to attend where once or twice a month I had to present my progress. I realized I would never finish taking off the braids and still get anything else done.

I got a pair of scissors and taking each braid by turn, cut it off with my hair still intertwined in it. That’s how the “big chop” happened.

I begun to enjoy nurturing my hair and styling it myself.

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Mohawk by cornrows. Learning to style my own hair!

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I guess the urge to “express myself” didn’t go away and once more, I bleached my natural hair and dyed it green.

September, 2016. Near Kanazawa Station.

Spotting green hair on September, 2016. Near Kanazawa Station.


My Kenyan friends also helped me style it from time to time.

Black and green braids to match the hair. In Tsurugi town, October, 2016.

Black and green braids to match the hair. In Tsurugi town, October, 2016.

The green started to fade, and the hair started to get unruly.

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Unable to tame the mane #teamNatural

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The green had faded away completely by the time I went to Kenya in December, 2016 for Christmas holidays. I finally had someone else wash and blow dry my hair, such luxury. The hair is permanently bleached blonde so it is going to take me some time (years) to grow it out (to a length where I can cut comfortably off the blonde).

My hair blow dried and fluttering in the Utawala breeze. Nairobi, Dec, 2016

My hair blow dried and fluttering in the Utawala breeze. Nairobi, Dec, 2016

I of course, got braids done when I was coming back to Japan. Braids are so convenient because you just get up in the morning and just go. There is no need even for a mirror check. I got crotchet braids that are so easy to take out, it didn’t even take me an hour. Well, maybe it did take an hour. Or two. But the point is, I could take them out by myself in finite time. And I can re-use them

I did DIY crotchet braids for my trip to France in March, 2016. Here is how I looked looked. It wasn’t a very tidy job but I think I did a passable job (I used this Youtube tutorial) and not many people in Japan can tell a good black hairdo from a bad one anyway ! They mostly thought it was so cool. かっこいいとよく聞こえた!Only

With Jeremy at the beach near St. Laurent Du Var, Nice. March, 2017.

With Jeremy at the beach near St. Laurent Du Var, Nice. March, 2017.

Eventually, I decided for myself that really, the braids had served their time and undid them. I have just ordered crotchet faux locks (I know, sounds like Greek) from a very enterprising black (I assume) girl in Japan.

In the meantime, I am letting my hair run wild. Wild, I tell you.

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Slowly getting there..

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I can’t find a strong enough blow drier so for a length check, I pulled on a strand of hair with my finger in front of a mirror and took a selfie. This is the current length after about a year.

Is this a hair journey that I am on? I don’t know. Obviously, my looks are a large part of who I am, of my identity. I really want to have long, thick, hair. But in spite of a whole post dedicated to my hair, I really don’t obsess much about it and I am trying to just let it be. I am glad for the tons of information and support groups online for naturalistas. Thank you, curly sisters!

But my main focus right now is of course, getting that PhD. Countdown, 17 months. Tic toc.

Meanwhile, see below my hair goals. It will probably take me a decade! T-9 years left.


This is a blogger, but I can’t recall her Youtube channel at the moment. Will update when I do.


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7 Responses to My Hair Journey Since Coming to Japan

  1. Emma says:

    Nice post 🙂 Glad your last post was not actually your last post. All the best in PhD and mothering.


  2. Oh my! What a journey it’s been 🙂 But you’re dong great, your hair is growing so issol good. And congrats on the PhD.


    • SK says:

      I would love to be going to a salon to get proper treatment, but I am trying the best I can, thank you! Don’t congratulate me yet, I need to submit my thesis first.


  3. Terry says:

    Wow, that has been quite a journey. Love the “expressing” yourself. Strangely, what shocks people here ni head wraps. Just like you, the big chop for me happened after a year in Japan. Soldering on with my TWA. Love how your hair looks now. It’s so full and healthy!


  4. Tumaini says:

    Really enjoyed reading this


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