Wednesday, January 28, 2009


So first I'm going to apologize that I haven't been giving you all the super interesting stuff that's been happening as it happens. I wanted to surprise you guys. I recently got an amazing opportunity. As you know I was taking a Japanese politics class this semester. My professor (Morikawa Tomonori) is a very well-connected person, and in Japan the idea that connections are everything is completely true.

Professor Morikawa is friends with Koike Yuriko's top secretary (Koike Yuriko is a well-know female politician here in Japan. If Japan were to have a female prime minister in the near future, it would be her.) and he know Koide Yuriko as well. The secretary has a friend who's a make-up and hair artist that was working a fashion show. This fashion show wanted a couple of foreigners to model. I volunteered. Here's my adventure.

First, on Friday we went to meet with Koike Yuriko's secretary and Obara-san (the make-up/hair artist). And where was this meeting? The Diet Building (that's the Japanese capital building and has nothing to do with losing weight). Anyway, we had lunch and got to wander around the Diet Building and the offices of the House of Representative members. So here I am standing in the press box above where the House of Representatives meet. That box with the curtains you see behind me is where the Emperor sits. All the seats you can see in this photo are for the younger members of the House. The ones for the older members are hidden from camera view presumably so they can nap without getting caught. While we were there, there was also a bunch of school tours going on. The kids would talk to me in English which was cute. I asked one where he was from, hoping to get a school name. He said "Tokyo". I'm really glad I brought a suit jacket.

The fashion show was Tuesday in a really swanky hotel in Shinagawa. I got my hair and make-up all done for me then went to the dressing room. Now I didn't mention this before, but the fashion show was for kimono so that's what I wore. Getting dressed in one was an experience in and of itself. I felt like a doll mostly. These three women (two were assisstants as they kept calling the third "sensei") wrapped me in several layers of cloth casually moving my arms if they were in the way. And that obi? Sooooo tight! The West had the corset, Japan has the obi. I could barely breathe. And the shoes are very hard to walk in. However, the end result was pretty stunning.

Now, a few trade secrets. That obi (the orange cloth belt) has carboard under it (one of the layers anyway) to keep the cloth smooth I think. Also, I believe I counted over thirty pins in my hair when I took them out that night.

After the show (during which I did not trip or otherwise embarrass myself thankfully) there were a lot of photos taken. Everyone wanted a photo of the gaijin in a kimono (and the other models got photos of them too, but they were professionals unlike me so knew what they were doing). Then I got changed out of the kimono for lunch. I was told that I could wear the kimono to lunch if I wanted, but I declined. After all, that's thousands of dollars worth of silk I'm wearing. And I figured, if I could barely breathe, how would I have room for food?

The lunch was incredibly lavish with many courses. Seriously I had at least five forks. The wine was excellent and the food was yummy. Plus, I was sitting at the table of honor apparently (my table mates included a CEO and a television producer among others) as we were front center and everyone at the table got introduced to the assembly at large (there was a total of about 150 people there).

After lunch, I had to go to Waseda because I had a class at 4:20. My hair was still all done up. I got quite a few stares for that.

And now I have a cold :(

I also have a couple of announcements. I'm leaving next Tuesday (Feb. 3) to go to Osaka. I'm visiting there for a couple of days during which time I will go to a Fall Out Boy concert. Directly from Osaka, I'm going to my cultural practicum. I very much doubt I will have internet access during the practicum so do NOT be alarmed if I fall off the face of the Earth. If I do have net access, it won't be at all regular. I return from my practicum on March 5th at which time I will have many pictures and things to show.


Kay Whiley said...

Mary is so cute! You asked for it, and you got it. And I'm not jsut saying that because you told me to ^_^

Jessa Dahl said...

Ah! That sounds like so much fun! You look amazing in that kimono, too! You're leaving for Osaka the same day I get to St. Andrews! That's a bit of a nerve-wracking thought at this point, since I haven't really started packing.......