Tokuso Hamai

Lost lives never come back

5. To be a barber

When I was finishing high school, my uncle told me that he would support me if I wanted to go to university.  However, I simply thought that I would become a barber, because my grandfather, uncle and father were all barbers.  So, I entered barber school in Hiroshima in April, 1952.

A month later, my uncle suggested that I take the examination to get my barber’s license.  When I arrived at the examination place, some examiners who knew my father talked to me one by one, “Sorry for your father.” “I was grateful for your father’s help.”  The following year, the rule changed that people must take the examination after two years study at the school and two years practical training.  Luckily, my examination was only easy academic subjects and a practical test.  I passed the examination, maybe because those examiners were my father’s apprentices. 

I left the school within one month and started working at my uncle’s barber shop in the Ministry of Posts office in Hakushima.  Though the inside of the shop had been pretty damaged by the A-bombing, he reopened it only one month later.  There was only one mirror and one chair for work.  At that time, in big post offices, there were barber shops and kiosks which employees and other people could use.  I worked for seven years at that shop.  Not a few customers had keloids on their faces, and I was very nervous when I shaved them.  But, some faces looked like they were covered with grapes, and I couldn’t shave them.

In 1960, I took over a shop in the East Post Office (the present Central Post Office) in front of Hiroshima Station and became independent with two employees who were already working at the shop.  It was very busy and we could make 36,000 yen per day, while the average monthly salary of post office workers was 12,000 yen at that time.  We only paid one percentage of sales to the post office, so it was a profitable job.  Recommended by one of my mountain-climbing friends, I also become an insurance agent in 1978 and I am 88 years old now still working.

In 1963, I got married and had a son two years later.  The following year, I had my second son.  I worked until 1994 when I had to close the shop because of a scandal.  A certain weekly magazine reported that employees of the Ministry of Posts went to have a haircut during working hours.  So, all the shops in post offices had to close.  I had just become 60 years old at that time and thought it was a good opportunity to retire as a barber.