Image: Caged bush warbler and plum, attributed Utagawa Kunihiro, c. 1829; collection of The LIbrary of Congress.
“Watching the people all around him intent on making the short winter days even busier with their frantic activity, as if driven by the ebbing year to fill every moment, Sōsuke felt all the more weighed down by this nameless dread of things to come. It even popped into his head that, were it possible, he would choose to linger amid the shadows of the nearly spent year. His turn at a chair having come at last, he caught sight of his reflection in the cold mirror, whereupon he asked himself: Who is this person staring out at me? He was draped in a white sheet from the neck down, and he could not make out the color or pattern of his suit. It was then that he noticed, in the background of the reflection, a wicker cage that housed the barber’s pet bird. The tiny bird hopped lightly about on its perch.
“When Sōsuke emerged onto the street, his head fragrantly anointed and his ears ringing with the barber’s hearty farewell, he felt utterly refreshed. Feeling the cold air against his skin, he had to admit that, as Oyone had claimed, a haircut can go a long way toward improving one’s mood.”
A New Year’s scene from Natsume Sōseki’s The Gate, in which the perennially disappointed hero attempts to cheer himself up with a haircut.