|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Middle-aged mobsters shed a tear for the punch perm, the hairdo that lost its clout 2008,05,23
Weekly Playboy 6/2 By Ryann Connell
Once a symbol of Japanese virility, the "punch perm" is in danger of extinction, according to Weekly Playboy (6/2).
The punch perm, a hairdo of tightly packed curls, was once de rigueur among Japanese guys, especially the yakuza in the underworld's heyday during the decade from the mid-70s on.
Now, though, guys with a punch perm are rarely ever seen.
"Punch perms used to be so popular guys would line up for hours to get one done. At the peak of their popularity, I was making up to 2.4 million yen a month just doing punch perms," Osaka barber and former national punch perm champion Takashi Kata tells Weekly Playboy.
"Now, I get about five or six customers a month who want punch perms. One of those will be in their 30s and all the rest are in their 50s at least."
While the hairstyle became synonymous with the yakuza and rode the wave of their popularity during the '70s and '80s,Osaka barbers' union boss Yuzo Matsui also blames the gangs for the punch perm's demise.
"Even though a lot of ordinary men got punch perms at the height of their popularity, so did a lot of yakuza. Ironically, once the yakuza got in on the game, the hairstyle lost its mainstream appeal," Matsui says.
"Because so many yakuza had punch perms, people began to associate the hairstyle with the underworld and gave it a dirty image. Some golf clubs even banned people with punch perms from playing. Some places treated the hairstyle with the same scorn they showed for those with (gang-related) irezumi (tattoos)."
Now, even the yakuza are deserting the do in droves.
"I'd say punch perms started disappearing in the (yakuza) business about 15 years ago. I'd guess now that for every 100 yakuza in Tokyo, only about one would have a punch perm. Shaved heads were popular for a while, but now most yakuza prefer long hair. It's a trend, but let's face it: the punch perm is a pretty dorky look, right? If you got a punch perm now, everybody else would take the piss out of you," a wakagashira (lieutenant) from a major yakuza syndicate tells Weekly Playboy, adding that there are sensible reasons for why the punch perm has lot its, well, punch among punks.
"It's all because of the Anti-Organized Crime Law. If you're a yakuza, you can be arrested just for gathering in groups of three. Even if you only look like a yakuza, the cops can grab you at any time and check up on your record. It's not much fun, but there's absolutely no value in looking like a yakuza any more."
Even if there is a sudden resurgence among those with a craving for cramped and crinkly curls, very few hair stylists would be able to meet their needs, say experts like Koji Takahashi, the owner of a Tokyo barbershop that still proudly boasts of its ability to provide punch perms.
"Recently, you'd be lucky to find a barber who knows how to do a decent punch perm. You'd be surprised how much skill it takes: you need to do it thousands of times to get the practice right. If a useless barber tries to give one, they'll only end up burning the customer's scalp," Takahashi tells Weekly Playboy.
"When I was young, I told the barber I didn't need money and worked for student wages so I could learn the technique, and then I practiced, practiced, practiced. Now, I'm confident I could give a punch perm with my eyes closed. Young people nowadays aren't interested in learning how to do punch perms, though. Even if you put on a practice session on your days off, nobody would turn up. If that's the case, we'll never be able to cram those curls again." (By Ryann Connell)