Salon vs. Barber: Hair-cut for men in Sendai

Let’s face it, getting your hair-cut is a pretty major part of life! It can catch people’s attention and leave a lasting first impression. For those of us living in Sendai, it can be overwhelming when the time comes to feel the wrath of a local hairdresser – we are spoilt for choice! If you take a look around you will see that there are two different kinds of hair salon/barber shop not only in Sendai but in any Japanese metropolis. So what are the difference between the two?

A salon ‘Byoin’ (美容院) is generally frequented by female customers and a barber-shop ‘Tokoya’ (床屋) or ‘Sanpatsuya’ (散髪屋) is usually only for men. It is also possible (and common) for men to visit a Byoin for their cut. This article will explore the hair styling options in Sendai for men, specifically the difference between Byoin and Tokoya distinguished by hair styling techniques, prices, treatment and cut time.

a. Hair styling 

Byoin generally offer a wider range of hair styling options. We can request the cut as we like. If you do not have any idea how to ask for what you want, just google your desired hair style and show the barber a picture. Tokoya, on the other hand, provided less options for hair styling. They specialise in basic hair-cuts using limited cutting technique due to the shorter cutting time offered (see below).



Of course, one of the biggest factors in choosing between a Byouin or Tokoya is the price! The price between the two services can be quite different. At a Tokoya, the price usually ranges between 1500-2000 yen, whereas  a visit to a Byouin will usually set you back around 3500 yen or more. This difference is mostly based on cutting time and the quality of hair treatment.

c. Treatment

When I visited a Tokoya, I got the very basic treatment: cut only. At a Byouin, I enjoyed a shampoo (with head massage), cut, dry and style with some gels and hair products. Naturally, the different quality of treatments offered also results in a different cutting time overall.

d. Cutting time

The sign board in front of a Tokoya will clearly state the average cutting time – sometimes as short as 10 minutes! At a Byouin, although the time is not usually specified (as it depends on the style of cut you want), short-styles for men will usually be cut within 1 hour ~ 1 hour 30 minutes. With a longer cutting time, there is more time for the hairdresser  to speak with their clients compared to the limited conversation time at a Tokoya.

Let’s take a look at what Tokoya and Byouin typically look like, for your easy reference!





Here’s a sample visit to one of my favourite salons in Sendai: ‘Little Sendai’!

Little Sendai is conveniently located near Sendai Station. Here is a goodle maps link, just in case:

First make your way to the main shopping arcade ‘Cliss Road’. Once you spot the 77 Bank (七十七銀行) turn left and then make a right turn at the first intersection. You will see a building with a lot of speakers. If you walk a little closer, you will notice the shop sign of Little Sendai. Take the elevator to the 3rd floor and you will find yourself standing in front of Little Sendai.

I visited without making a reservation. I am lucky because by chance there was a stylist free to cut my hair at that time, but usually you would have to reserve in advance. Overall, I was very satisfied with my visit to Little Sendai. Moreover, I even scored a discount card which I can be use for my next hair cut!

Those who only want a basic cut tend to avoid Byouin because the price is comparatively high, but you do get more for your buck with added value of range in hair styling, high quality treatments, and membership discounts. Tokoya is a good option for your wallet, but if you want to improve your look and enjoy some relaxation, a visit to a Byouin like Little Sendai is the option for you!

‘Little’ Sendai:


Reservations: Online or Telephone 022-796-7015


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