Fast, Professional Hairstyling at Atelier Haruka

By Kelly Wetherille
February 23, 2016
Health & Beauty

After spending much of my young life with short hair, I now love the versatility that having long (or longish) hair affords me. However, that versatility is often wasted on me since I am completely unskilled and uncreative when it comes to styling my own hair. This is why places like Atelier Haruka seem like such a godsend, particularly when an important event rolls around.

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Atelier Haruka is a quick, inexpensive, no-frills hairstyling and makeup salon that is beloved by Japanese women, particularly during wedding season when even the guests tend to get their hair professionally done. With roughly 20 locations in Tokyo alone, there is always one nearby. Appointments cost as little as ¥1,500 and, for a simple style, are done in 10 minutes. If you want to look good but don’t want to pay a lot to do so, it’s the perfect place to go.

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I first heard of Atelier Haruka through a Japanese friend, who raved about the great value and how the stylists are extremely skilled and fast. So when another friend’s wedding came up a few months later, I decided to give it a try. I booked an appointment at the Roppongi Hills salon for an early Saturday morning in June, and when I arrived I was surprised to find the place packed with customers and bustling stylists. It turned out that my idea was in no way unique, as everyone else there was also on her way to a wedding. Weekends are the busiest time for the salon, and it gets even busier between May and September.

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Since that first visit, I have been back to Atelier Haruka several times and I’ve never been disappointed. But it’s worth noting that this is not a place you go for pampering. Don’t expect to get your hair washed and your scalp massaged, or to be offered a glass of champagne. This is strictly styling only, so come with clean hair (there aren’t even sinks in the salon) and have an idea in mind of what you want. Most stylists don’t speak English, but they are incredibly good at recreating a look from a photo if you bring one in. If you don’t, the salon also has books full of styles from which you can choose.

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Customers can elect to get an updo (¥2,800 in the Tokyo area, usually done in about 20 minutes), a half-up style, or a “down style” (¥1,800 in the Tokyo area, usually done in about 10 minutes). Makeup services are also available for the same prices and take about the same amount of time. Some salons also offer manicure services.

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In addition to the Roppongi Hills branch, there are Atelier Haruka salons all across Tokyo in extremely convenient locations (often in train station shopping malls, which is super handy if you’re on your way to an event). There are three in Shibuya, three in Shinjuku, three in Ikebukuro, and one each in various other places such as Ebisu, Omotesando, Yurakucho and Tokyo Station. So whether you have an important meeting, a fancy soiree or just a casual date, you can be looking great for under ¥2,000 and in less time than it would take you to drink a coffee.

For more information and a list of salons, see Atelier Haruka’s website (Japanese only, but formatted for automatic translation if you’re browsing on Google Chrome).

Kelly is a freelance journalist, editor, copywriter and translator who has lived in Tokyo for over 10 years. She was Savvy's founding editor, and her work has appeared in Women's Wear Daily (WWD), The New York Times and CNN Travel. When she's not at her desk or working from a café, she can usually be found zipping through the streets of Tokyo on her black Cannondale or enjoying a cocktail with friends on the balcony of her apartment. On weekends she teaches stand up paddle boarding and paddle board yoga from the beaches near Tokyo.

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