We, at Tripoto, are suckers for stories from the road. There is a certain joy we get while chatting with people who passionately share their travel experiences. This week we sit down for some travel talk with Jun Kuwabara, a Japanese hairdresser who is on a journey across the globe with his guitar and hairdressing tools to give 1000 haircuts to people all over the world. Jun’s humble quest has taken him to more than 27 countries, discovering much more than he started this journey for. Quite close to his goal with 850 smiling customers, Jun is already brimming with stories from this incredible journey. Read on for more…
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us more about your travels.
I’m Jun Kuwabara, 26, from Yamanashi, Japan. I worked as a hairstylist for 6 years in Tokyo until April last year when I finally began my journey around the world. My travel story began with a crazy goal of giving haircuts to 1000 people all across the globe and in a span of almost one year I’ve been to 27 lovely countries and cut over 850 people’s hair so far. For the love of beer and travel, I’ve been to Asia, Europe, Africa and South America so far.
2. Tell us about your travel beginnings. Your first breakaway trip. How easy or difficult was it to venture out into the world?
I first visited to Korea for meeting my friend. I realized that travelling was rather an easy and comfortable venture for me since I could speak in English. It was the time when I was beginning to realize that I could talk to most of the people easily and befriend many at the same time.
3. What is your first travel memory?
I was 19 when I took my first trip to London and Paris and came back with everlasting memories. To start a journey all on my own and be there in a place so distant gave me an experience to cherish for years. Young and amazed, I was impressed about everything I saw during this trip to Europe.
4. On your amazing blog, we see you managing to get the attention of the people by means of a handmade sign. Has the journey been as easy as it looks?
Normally when I am ready with the hairdressing tools, I ask someone, with whom I can communicate in English, to write on my board in the local language. This board usually says,
“Hello! I’m a Japanese hairdresser. I have been cutting many people’s hair while traveling around the world. Let me cut your hair! The price is up to you! Thank you.”
So it becomes easy for the locals to understand what a crazy hairdresser in trying to do in the middle of nowhere. But it has not been a smooth sail throughout. I faced the hardest times in Europe where I arrived during the freezing winter month and could barely find people out on the roads, forget someone willing to get a haircut. But all sorts of experiences are a part of travelling and the bad ones are no reason to stop.
5. What has been the inspiration behind this rather unusual idea to be a travelling hairdresser?
I don’t know if I can all it an inspiration but I wanted to see different countries but travelling without a purpose seemed like a boring idea to me. I wanted to engage in something significant while I travelled and the only thing I can do is cut people’s hair. So I came up with the idea of cutting hair for 1000 people. It looked challenging enough to make me start.
6. What does your experience tell you about people from different countries and how generous or stingy they are?
Usually how it happens is, once I start cutting for one person, I people around ask for a haircut too. There are all sorts of people out there. How generous they are does not really depend on their nationalities. Though if I have to name countries where I came across people not so generous, I would name Singapore, Taiwan and England.
7. How was it like travelling to India for you?
It’s a really interesting country of quite friendly people. I had been to India for two weeks, mostly in the northern part of it. It was interesting to see a different culture altogether. I was fascinated by the religious beliefs of the people here and that was a reason for me in the first place to visit India.
8. Has there been any one experience while you are travelling that has changed you as a person?
Experiencing historical locations all around the world mostly leaves a deep impact on me. I am always keen on visiting ancient ruins while travelling. These sites are usually quite intriguing in the sense that they give us an opportunity to think about the great past and what the previous civilization was capable of. Also, it tells us a lot about our standing in this world. Such experiences have always been the most enriching part of my journey.
9. Collecting all the interesting stories that you have, where do you go from here?
I’m currently in Santiago, Chile. The next destination is Australia where I’ll be working for a while. Once I finish traveling to the different cities of that beautiful country, my plan is to return to Japan and finally work on my dream of making a salon of my own. That has been a dream throughout and travelling around the world has been an incredible dream come true.
Follow Jun’s crazy adventure into the world on his blog.