Tadashi Harada is known in Japan as the “Master Braider”– and just one look at his amazingly intricate and elaborate hairstyles will tell you why.
With pieces that more closely resemble works of art and avant-garde sculptures, Harada-san turns hair into inconceivably stunning sights. Harada-san is Shiseido Professional’s Top Hair & Make Up Specialist and the Principal of SABFA (Shiseido Academy of Beauty & Fashion) with a wealth of hairdressing experience and awards. As consecutive five-time award recipient at the Japan Hairdressing Awards, his creations are iconic and his skills are one-of-a-kind.
I had a chance to sit down with Harada-san for a chat and quiet afternoon tea after watching him create one of his latest masterpieces right in front of us, a regal, tribal-inspired braided topknot adorned with a hand-made camellia flower accessory.
What made you decide to work in hair styling?
My mother owns a hair salon, and I grew up influenced and inspired by her. When my career in the Air Force didn’t work out, I decided to return to my roots.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
The time I could finally do my mother’s hair. That was the moment I felt like I had truly made it, I was truly independent.
What are some of your favourite looks you’ve created?
The ones inspired by anime and manga! For me, it’s love. I love anime and manga and creating looks inspired by them and sharing them on my Instagram. It’s not quite cosplay but it’s something a little different.
Could you share a go-to hair styling tip for busy Malaysian women?
Malaysia’s weather is very humid, but Malaysians spend a lot of time indoors with airconditioning, which is very dry. These sort of changes can really mess with your hair, so my quick styling choice would be accessories, accessories, accessories! Accessories can change your look in seconds and you don’t have to spend time trying to arrange your hair in a complicated style. I like accessories like hair bands, clip-on bangs and hair extensions.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 beauty products would you pick?
Shampoo, face wash, and face lotion. Cleanliness is important!
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to become a hairstylist like you?
Always think about beauty, and always value your customers’ smiles.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Sometimes when I work with big international stars, I still get nervous!
Name your dream client or hairstyle.
Robert Redford in the 1974 The Great Gatsby film. I would love to create something like the way he looked in that film.
View more of Takashi Harada’s work below and here:
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.