After the 2.5 hour flight to Dallas, the 14 hour flight to Narite (airport) and the unexpected 2.5 hour shuttle ride to Tokyo, we checked into our 34th floor apartment in Roppongi Hills #fancy. Jet lagged and quite grumpy, we stumbled out into the unfamiliar streets around 10pm on the hunt for actual food, ’cause whatever they were serving on those planes left everything to be desired. A traditional Japanese meal was preferable, but it was so cold and we were so damn tired, that we settled on one of the first places we found. Soon thereafter, we realized that it was a French Cafe… the menu was written in French and Japanese and the servers spoke Japanese, no English, so we had absolutely no idea what was going on. Too lazy to leave, we ended up with a cold gelatinous rabbit dish which didn’t taste bad… but also didn’t taste good, and pig’s tongue which tasted very piggy and smelled of saliva and barnyard. Neither were particularly awful, but suddenly everything tasted worse when they delivered that ¥ 13,640 check (roughly 158 US dollars).
We found our way back to the apartment and managed 4 hours of sleep. We woke up with renewed vigor and great expectations. With limited time and an expansive city to cover, we wanted to be productive, so we decided to kick things off by hitting up Tsukiji Fish Market. Tsukiji is the biggest fish market in the world with 60k employees and tons of fresh fish that they’ll prepare right there for you! So we bundled up and hit the streets in search for the metro which was supposed to be a ‘hop, skip and a jump’ from our apartment. We got lost for 45 minutes and when we finally found the station, discovered that in order to secure a pass, we needed cash. So we left the station in search of an ATM. We found one straight away, but nothing’s that easy… they didn’t take international cards. On our way down the block we ran into a Black guy (#Yay #WhatUpMyDude), a Nigerian who greeted us with a smile and invited us up to his establishment for a drink and breakfast. We asked where the nearest international ATM was located, he directed us (to a 7/11 no less… those are popular over here for some reason) and we promised to return on our way back. After the jellied rabbit fiasco, we were definitely hungry.
When we returned, he had disappeared into the building. So we boarded the elevator, which was shady as hell, and made our way up into the unknown. When the elevator stopped, the doors opened and all I could feel was BASS. Like, ‘make your heart work’ and/or ‘skip several beats’ kind of bass. The air was thick with smoke, but the vibe was dope… laughter filled the air.
I was confused, tho. Checked my phone- 8:00 am. Yeah.
We hesitantly stepped off of the elevator and were greeted by two women who were clearly lit. They smiled and laughed at our expressions and told us to, ‘go on, go inside’. Like, ‘don’t be scurred!’ There was a big silver door that stood between us and what was clearly a party. Hubby pushed it open and all we could hear was LMFAO’s, ‘shots shots… shotshotshots!’, and folks were fist pumping and DRANKING! As ignorant as it was, and despite the fact that I hadn’t even had breakfast, I gave a hearty ‘hell yeah’, when the owner asked if we’d have drinks with him. TURNT up at 9am.
I Facetimed my sister from the bar (which had WIFI!) to prove the debauchery was really real, and all she could do was shake her head.
made a new friend! #TeamCurly #HairInYoFace
After that we headed out into the sun lit street to face the day. In light of recent events, our plans had changed. No longer in the mood to go on a wild goose chase to find the market, we re-calibrated and set our sights on sushi. And we found it. And it was bomb. Best damn miso I’ve ever had in my life.
Then we napped, I blogged and then headed to a restaurant to dine with some local teachers and military wives that just so happened to be #TeamNatural. The ladies (and gentleman) were all stunningly gorgeous, great company and shared entertaining stories about their experiences of being Black AND Natural in Tokyo.
Peep the view-
SheaMoisture sponsored this gathering and provided the attendees with full size samples!
we gave them a sneak peek of the book… these are uncorrected, not-for-sale proofs
The homie. She singlehandedly organized this event as well as the one on the Airforce base. She’s an avid CurlyNikki community member, curly diva, and Japanese culture expert! I’m forever in her debt and truly appreciate her time and dedication to ensuring that we could make what was a thought, an inspired idea, become a reality!
She’s from Jamaica, been in Japan for 8 years and teaches English. She transitioned for a year and Big Chopped one year ago.
She says, “Being in Japan, it was really easy to go natural simply because good or bad hair day, it didn’t matter, nobody knew any better! The funny thing now that I am natural and my hair is curly, my work colleagues think that I am rocking a curly perm. They give me a mean side eye when I tell them it’s natural. I am a die hard product junkie! I loooove trying new stuff especially conditioners. But my absolute staples are Shea Butter and Herbal Essence’s Totally Twisted and Hello Hydration. I learned about CurlyNikki after going natural and I am soooo glad I did. I check it daily and I love the support and inspiration that is found here.”
The homie Monique, a professional singer, secured the venue. She came to Japan on the JET program and now does back vocals for Japanese and foreign artists. When asked about her experiences being natural in Tokyo she shared, ‘they always ask if my hair is wool. Always.’ She twisted her hair for 6 months and then locked. She says, ‘I proudly sport my locs. Locs work well even in my profession where I am always on stage and expected to look elegant at all times.’
Samantha has been in Japan for about a year and a half. She’s currently two months into her transition and has already done 1 Big Chop… her hair was to her waist just a month ago! She’s in Japan working as an English Teacher in Nagoya, she states, ‘I’ve always had a strong interest in Japan and its culture (stemming from my love of video games from a young age), and am enjoying and learning the Japanese language and about as much of the culture as I can.’
She shares- “I’ve been relaxed for 9 years and really I can’t remember what my hair texture is naturally like. Being in Japan was a headache to get products that’s suitable for my hair and to get it taken care of properly, for example getting a relaxer done or even just blow drying for relaxed hair rather than Asians or Caucasians with naturally straight hair.
My reason for starting to transition isn’t related to the fact mentioned above, but due to a friend I visited in Shikoku in October. She has been in Japan for about 4 years and she transitioned here and now has locks. She asked me why am I relaxing my hair in the first place being half Chinese (trust me it was a question I had asked myself for awhile now), and then I decided to stop relaxing. I got tired of seeing my hair straight, and just there. Most of the time I wash an wear my hair and leave it curly anyway. So I decided to do a half big chop. And started my transitioning process from then.
The only problem is finding organic products that are affordable here in Japan, so I turn to a lot of natural essential oils to help. Now I’m experimenting with various oils, and products to see what works well, so that I don’t have go searching for the products after its gone natural.”
Raven has been natural for 1 year and 4 months. This is her 3rd attempt. Today, she’s rocking a Curlformer set! She says, ‘I’m in Japan because my husband is in the Air Force. It has been very hard being natural in Japan. There are not any stores here that have African American products and even fewer stylists that specialize in our hair. I do however, have a lot of natural friends here that support me. I have 3 children that are natural as well. Two of them are girls. My children wanted their hair like mine (relaxed) so I had to show them that our hair is beautiful naturally! I transitioned for 6-8 months before I finally cut off the relaxed ends. I cut 2-3 inches off every month. I wore protective styles the whole time.”
An english teacher, has been natural most of her life, with a few chemical treatments here and there. She currently works as an English teacher. She shares, “I‘ve been in Japan for 8 months plus. My hair was in protective braids for about two months when I just got here. Styling and caring for my hair was a bit new because I normally go to the hairdresser. After a few months of caring for my hair it started falling out and breaking and I’m currently in the process of learning my hair, how to care for it, style and treat it.”
Tenika shares, ‘I have been beautifully natural for 3 and a half years. I love Japan and have lived here for 3 years. I am the spouse of an Active Duty service member. I am also a volunteer Dental Hygienist at the Air Base in Yokota. Being Natural in Japan has been a challenge with the shortage of products and hair stylists available. But with the support of my natural sister on base, I have managed to avoid the creamy crack. YouTube, blogs, books and just calling up another natural on the phone to discuss hair issues have MADE my experience here. I advise to order products online, YouTube style tutorials and overall love and care for your hair! Loving myself includes loving my overall health which includes my hair! Stay fierce and Natural sistas!’
Keith has been in Japan for 4 years, working as an English teacher. He shares, “…since growing my hair in a hi-top fade, my students are amazed my hair grows upright. Japanese people are not familiar with other textures like wavy or curly, so they think it is a perm. So I get the, “perma?” question so often. Whenever I go to my elementary schools, the kids feel my hair and smell it. They claim it has a good smell, like coconut! Haha!”
Linda is from California and has been in Kawasaki, Japan for 4 years. She’s been SISTERLOCKED for 9 years! She shares-
“I have tried it all on my curly hair down thru the years. I was most pleased with two strand twist, because I liked the fullness and the bounce. I always loved the dred locked look so when my self actualization process abruptly began….. I opted for SISTERLOCKS…. I’ve been loc’d and lovin’ it 9 years now! 🙂
My hair routine is SIMPLE: wash bi-weekly with black soap, apply pure unadulterated Shea butter to my scalp and the entire length of my locs, deep condition monthly with henna, retighten every 8 weeks.
I love to try many styles for long SISTERLOCKED hair. I often wear pipe cleaner curls, two strand,Bantu knots, braids, petal locks, fish tails etc… The easiest style is to braid in small plaits then do a braid out to achieve crinkly wavy look.
It is so liberating to wear natural hair. It is a freedom that really allows the wearer to embrace the spiritual spiral nature of our hair.”
Daisha’s a DJ from Philly and has resided in Japan for 7 years! She studied abroad- Temple Japan (Fall 2002)- and fell in love with Tokyo. She returned in April 2006 on a teaching visa, freelanced in media, started to DJ in 2008, and is currently a corporate communications consultant and started a company for entertainment production, event coordination, and booking. She shares-
“I come from a family of permming, hot combing, long-haired women that cut their hair short. I was raised with perms and hot combs. Before moving to Japan I learned to put my own perm in, trim my ends, and stocked up on hair products. The salons charge too much for just a wash and trim ($100) and I didn’t trust a Japanese beautician with my hair styling. I finally found a salon to do my perms, which I reduced to twice a year, and touched up weekly with a wash, blow dry and flat iron routine. After I made it through my 1st super humid summer with no perm, and rotating to natural wet buns, pinned up, and huge Diana Ross styles, I haven’t had a perm in over 3 years.
Flat-iron and then natural summers. Now I need more products for my hair type, which is wavy/frizzy without a curl pattern…”
…and that’s all folks! Stay tuned for the Curly Troops! Lots more to share!
Sign up with ROMWE + show the crew some love & support in the comments below, to win a $100 dollar gift card to ROMWE, baby!
I’ll randomly select a winner on Monday the 31st at 5pm EST! Good luck!