• 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS
2017-10-23 17:56
By Nam Sang-so



A Tokyo citizen named Takayoshi Oba (65) is the exclusive hairdresser for the Emperor Akihito. His grandfather and father too had served as the hair cutter for the late Emperor Hirohito.

It was Dec. 27 2016 in particular, two days before the emperor’s 83rd birthday and Oba had an 8 p.m. appointment for a trim.

The thickly wooded palace ground was pitch dark and walking on the moonless footway, his thoughts were swept by a mysterious loneliness which led him to think of a lonely life the emperor and empress had to endure in this solitude in the middle of the bustling city.  

Takayoshi had never forgotten what his late father had told him. The senior Oba poured buckets of clean cold water over his head many times even in the freezing winter to cleanse himself. “In my service for the emperor, I would never look straight at his eyes and if by accident I hurt the skin of the emperor’s body, I was ready to perform hara-kiri (a ritual suicide by horizontally cutting the abdomen using a dagger) in order to beg for my apology.” Oba the junior relayed the story to Shukan Bunshun in its Feb. 9 edition, and said when he walks into the palace grounds he braces himself with the same spirit as his late father had done.

He also confessed that he was nervous when using a cutlery against the emperor’s body while the two were alone in a silent room. Through his comb and the pair of scissors he could feel the wellness of the emperor’s body and mind. The old scissors, named “dilettante,” was specially made in his father’s era which the son still uses.

“What hair style? was a big question for me when I was first assigned to be the emperor’s barber,” Oba said.  “The usual 7 to 3 division won’t portray the humanity of the emperor, I thought.  When standing behind so close to the emperor’s back, the words “an affectionate father” flashed into my mind.

It is interesting that the Imperial House has such a loyal hairdresser who trims the hair of the emperor risking his own life.

Seeing a unique hairstyle of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the world’s most annoying dictator, I thought he must have an avant-garde barber who should be ready to be killed by machine gun fire if ever he makes a slight blunder with his edged tools.


The writer is a Japanese/English translator. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com 


  • 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS