2005年7月25日 (月)

Koizumi's barber has hair-raising nightmares


Koizumi's barber has hair-raising nightmares


A South Korean movie, shown this year in Japan under the Japanese title of "Daitoryo no Rihatsushi" (The president's barber), is about a man who became the barber of President Park Chung Hee.

Having never expected to be chosen for this role, the man is more terrified than honored.

He realizes he could stand before the firing squad, should his shaving hand become unsteady and nick the president's face.

I enjoyed this film enormously.



In one scene, the protagonist reports to work for the first time and is instructed sternly by the president's aide: "Never use a razor without the president's permission, don't ask any questions, and get your work done in 15 minutes flat."

That is one funny scene in the movie. But, actually, a 15-minute haircut is quite hasty.


It made me think of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to his barber.

Koizumi always goes to a barbershop in the basement of a downtown Tokyo hotel, where he sometimes stays for more than two hours.

One time, he went in at 11 p.m. and did not come out until 1:30 a.m.

This became fodder for the rumor mill in the political community. The barbershop, the rumor went, must have a hidden passageway and Koizumi must be sneaking out to meet with someone in secret.

And that is also the reason why his hairdo is invariably the same before and after his barbershop visit.


Tadashi Muragi, 47, has been Koizumi's personal barber for 20 years.

"We have no secret passageway," he said, laughing at the the rumor.

Priding himself on his meticulous job, Muragi explained that perming Koizumi's hair takes about two hours, and it takes no less than one hour just for a trim and styling.

And the prime minister also gets a manicure.

"His hairstyle never changes because that's the way he likes it. He doesn't want to look like he's just had a haircut," Muragi added.


From time immemorial, tragicomedies have abounded about barbers retained by men in power.

There's the barber in Greek mythology who sees the king has grown donkey's ears, and is unable to keep himself from spilling the secret.

In the opera "The Barber of Seville," Figaro is the quick-witted barber who helps the count woo his lady love.


I have not heard any tragic or funny stories about Koizumi's visits to his barber.

However, Muragi admitted he has repeated nightmares in which he makes the terrible mistake of lopping off the prime minister's cherished mane.


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 17(IHT/Asahi: July 25,2005)

| | コメント (0) | トラックバック (0)