April 20, 2010
Oddball Historical Note

“Do you know the Japanese word for ‘hair clippers’?” Tod asked me this morning as he stood looking at the Wahl box on the bathroom counter. I didn’t know it.

They are called バリカン (barikan) after Barriquand et Marre, a French company that also made engines for the Wright Brothers and for early automobiles. They seem to have gone out of business a long time ago.

Clippers became popular in Japan at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, when the Emperor decreed men must cut off their topknots and then started conscripting soldiers in 1873. Maruzen imported the first French “barikan” in 1874 and by 1888, Japan has its own clipper manufacturers in Osaka and Tokyo.

So now you know. And according to the box, Wahl is the world’s #1 manufacturer of barikan.

Posted by kuri at April 20, 2010 12:53 PM

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