Changing History, one Picture at a Time
After the first weekend of events, CIEE does not actually plan many more events for the entire group to participate in. There are some through Sophia Univeristy, but mainly people go off on their own and/or do the activites recommended by CIEE on their own time. This is basically true except for one time: Shannon, our program director, gave us 4 options of a group activity to participate in that CIEE would pay for. The options were either Tokyo Disney Sea, Samurai/Geisha photos, a baseball game, or the Roppongi Hills City View Observation Deck. Tokyo Disney Sea won (which turned out to be a much better time than I expected). However, myself and Amanda - who is also doing the blog - really wanted to do the geisha/samurai photos...so we did.
If you read Amanda's blog entry below you can read about her becoming a geisha, or rather, an apprentice geisha. I, on the other hand, decided to do something a bit different; I wanted to be a samurai. It actually took awhile for Amanda to convince me to go because I didn't think they would let me, as a female, dress up as a samurai, but I'm really glad I did decide to go.
We went to our appointment at Studio Katsura in Harajuku and were immediately shown in in typical Japanese etiquette and style. As you can imagine, it took much longer for Amanda to get dressed due to the abundance of make-up geishas wear - and the fact that samurais didn't wear any -so I was actually able to become a samurai and take some pictures before she was ready.
Really, the main reason I wanted to do the samurai role is because I love swords. Absolutely love them. So I couldn't just go and not take pics with their swords. Just as a note, the swords were real, just dulled.
It was really so much fun. The people in the studio were also super nice. They let us take silly pictures after the photographer had finished, basically trying on crazy-high shoes, or using a smoking pipe, fan, or purse however we wanted. The photographer for the shoot actually took a picture of me in the 7-inch high shoes on his own personal camera! I guess it is a bit funny to see a female samurai on tall geisha shoes. XD
But really, the people at Studio Katsura were so nice. We took pictures with them after and I recommend everyone who visits Japan goes to do this. Amanda and I had the best time.