I first spotted Sayuri Sakairi through a crowd of people on Berlin’s busy Weinmeisterstraße one hot day in the summer. I was with a friend. We had been searching aimlessly for months to find a good hairdresser, and Sayuri had great hair – a pristine bob with a crescent fringe. I had to know who had cut her hair. My friend clearly had the same idea and before I knew it, they were exchanging contact info. Since then, Sayuri has cut my hair a number of times, and her client base has extended to lots of my friends who love her unconventional yet elegant style. Sayuri’s creative talents extend beyond hair. Since moving to Berlin from Tokyo this year, she has styled fashion shoots for magazines.
Tell me about yourself - where did you grow up? How did you become interested in art?
I was born in the city of Osaka in Japan. I graduated from a professional beauty school and worked at a hair salon in Osaka for five years, before I moved to Tokyo for three years. I have been interested in painting and creating things since I was child, and I often went to museums, galleries and libraries, so I naturally became interested in art. Also, my father was an art teacher at school, so I guess he was probably an influence.
How and when did you become interested in hair?
When I was child, I really liked to play with my mother’s hair. I felt like magic when I got my hair cut and that’s when I knew that I wanted to make people happy by making them beautiful some day.
Your hairstyles are striking and unconventional, and yet really flattering because they are personal to each individual. How do you decide the best cut for each person?
While of course I like working on hair, it is people and their personalities that I enjoy the most.
Everyone has individual personalities, I think. So I like to help them develop their personality so they can enjoy their days to the fullest. I need to cut the best hairstyle for each individual. I look for some hints from them - hair type, head shape, feel, and their behavior - and put my sense into them.
What do you learn about people through cutting hair?
I know from my experience of cutting hair, how small moments of happiness can affect people’s lives – these moments can allow for great motion in someone’s future. If your hairstyle changes, your behavior changes, the scenery of the city changes, and the world can change. I want to create a small chance for someone’s happiness. I’m happy to be like a catalyst. I look forward to a chemical reaction that can happen between you (your hair) and me (my cutting).
You moved to Berlin this year from Tokyo -what provoked this decision?
I first visited Berlin three years ago, and I really liked the atmosphere. It was creative, cheap, imperfect...I think that’s why I felt it has some kind of possibility. Of course I loved my life back in Tokyo, it's a very exciting city and has nice people, shops…everything is there! But I wanted to try living and working in Berlin, which I find is more artistic and free. I can now say it was the right decision. It is not only Tokyo, all Japan has so many problems - political, environmental, national... I need to gain perspective on these problems from another country, somewhere with a different language. This is only necessary because I love Japan so much... I believe that being in Berlin is going to make me grow as an artist and person.
You are not only interested in hair styling - you also style shoots for magazines. Tell me about your art philosophy.
I always want to have space in my heart for joy. I want everyone to do so. There are many kinds of arts, but I express myself through giving inspiration to someone’s daily life. I’m not special, so I don’t want to decide my possibility. I will express generously if I have a nice idea and it fits the situation, even it’s not only about hair. I hope it can give imagination to someone, somewhere.
You have great style. Where do you shop?
I really like second-hand and vintage clothing. So I often go to second-hand clothing shops or flee markets. I used to work in a second-hand clothing shop in Japan when I was student. Of course I like new design, but I also like old and traditional things. My favourite clothing brand is Cosmic Wonder and Realty Studio. They have many designs inspired by old and traditional things from all over the world and they are so conceptual.
Is it important for you to stay involved in other artistic projects outside of hair?
Yes, I don’t want to only work with hair. It is important that I am informed with other things for my work styling hair. So I need to make sure I feel everything. That’s why it’s important to try and express with another means. I don’t want to just do self-satisfied beauty work.
What art projects do you want to do next?
Lately I feel like I am creating a certain atmosphere with my work, including hair. It is interesting to recognise your invisible sense of value by visible means. I am interested in producing work which conveys hair-cutting in a more artistic sense. I would like to make a film or performance piece, and I would eventually like to do something interesting with creators who live in Berlin.