Osakan inventor attributes idea to those damn long-haired Beatles.

Twice a year, the Emperor of Japan issues the prestigious Medal of Honor to citizens who have demonstrated excellence in their work or general behavior. They are presented on the Showa Emperor’s birthday of 29 April and 3 November, which is the birthday of the Meiji Emperor.

The medals are color-coded to represent the reason, such as purple ribbons to those who made important advancements in science or the arts and blue ribbons for people who dedicated themselves to social welfare.

▼ A news report from last year when three teens won red ribbon medals for saving a man from getting hit by a train

Then there are yellow ribbon medals given to those who have shown excellence in agriculture, commerce, and industry and became role models for others. And there is perhaps no more deserving role model for such a ribbon than 76-year-old Ryoichi Hijiya of Cut House Ryo no Mise in Osaka’s Suminoe Ward. Hijiya is credited with changing the face, or the head, of Japanese fashion for decades by inventing the punch perm hairstyle.

A punch perm is a very tight perm that gives a distinctly stylish look that is also easy to maintain. It was particularly embraced by the more rough-and-tumble teens through the ’70s and ’80s, possibly due in part to the use of “punch” in the name.

▼ After getting one himself, our own Mr. Sato constantly looked like he wanted to punch someone

But the actual origin of the name came from Hijiya’s desire to create something new and “punchy” that would grab the attention of young men in the ’60s and ’70s. It was around this time that Beatlemania was sweeping the world and guys started growing their hair out to emulate that mop-topped quartet whose locks seemed to only get longer as their popularity grew.

Unfortunately, for Hijiya, this rock and roll craze meant fewer haircuts and less income. So, he sought to create something that had an edgy impact while also putting butts in the barber chair.

He spent about a year working with hairdressing product manufacturer Ribic to develop treatments and curling irons less than a centimeter in diameter to facilitate his rhythmic style of perming. After he was satisfied with the results obtained through trial and error, Hijiya tirelessly traveled across Japan teaching others the technique.

▼ A look at how it’s done

Punch perms soon became popular with celebrities and athletes, and the rest is hairstyling history. When asked how he felt about punch perms also being associated with juvenile delinquents, Hijiya said it was fine because even that helped to spread the style’s popularity and support barbershops all over Japan when they needed it the most.

He also said that he was sad to see the style’s decline in popularity in recent years since it’s such a neat and easy-to-maintain cut, but he hopes it’ll have its day in the sun again. Trends have a habit of doing just that, so maybe Hijiya can see people sporting punch perms all over again someday. In the meantime, he can take pride in his new Medal of Honor recognizing him as one of the best the country has to offer.

Source: Yomiuri
Photos ©SoraNews24
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