Noritaka Iwasaki calls himself a traveling barber. He calls Philadelphia home but spends a lot of time on the road, most notably in Japan, which he visited recently for the Rugby World Cup and where he was asked to cut the hair of the members of the English team before they took the pitch against South Africa in the final.
Iwasaki spends a lot of time in the air and on the road but two days before Thanksgiving he and friend and fellow barber Takuya Mulbah were on hand at the Unification Family Church of Philadelphia and Learning Center on Pulaski Avenue in Germantown where Iwasaki’s father Shota is the pastor. The pair provided complimentary haircuts to those who couldn’t afford them. Over a span of four hours, the tandem provided some 15 haircuts to visitors.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do a for a long time,” Iwasaki said. “We’ve done this in various countries as well as various places. This is our first time doing it in the community of Philadelphia, but me and (Mulbah) grew up in Philly and we have our church in the Germantown area as well, we felt that we wanted to give back to the community.
“A haircut is just one of the ways to bring people together into a community and so people can feel warmth from each other. I think a lot of times, during the wintertime and especially (around Thanksgiving) we want to be able to share that warmth with everybody. As much as we receive love from everybody, we wanted to be able to give back.”
Iwasaki found the experience extremely satisfying. ”For me, it felt really, really good,” he said. “I think it’s something I feel personally for my family and friends, for my community and neighborhood. I’ve received so much love and support and that’s something that kind of wells up from the inside out.”
Iwasaki envisions traveling America, visiting various communities, and offering his skills and services on a complimentary basis. He says it’s his way of giving back.
“When you feel good, you do good and when you do good, you feel good,” he said. "It’s just an endless cycle.”
Iwaaki’s recent trip to Japan marked the fourth time he has been called on to cut hair for the English national team. He’s handled that assignment for national teams from several other countries as well.