This past Tuesday, I was invited to go into Tokyo to get some fun, unique, authentic Japanese pictures taken! My friends Debbie and Shelly (who have both been instrumental in my transition to Yokota and whose husbands work in the hospital also) are leaving Japan soon and heard about this place that dresses you up like Maikos (a Geaisha in training), Gaikos (Geishas) and Oirans (Japanese Courtesans - high class hookers). They reall wanted to get it done before they left and, with the help of a Japanese friend who works at the hospital, set up the appointments. I dropped the kids off for school and we hopped on the trains to get to the studio.
The studio is a temporary one right now as they are rebuilding at their normal location. We found it with no problems and made it a few minutes early!!! The whole process was so fun! First you chose which look you wanted. Next you chose which dress/jacket/accessories. Finally you picked what poses/props you wanted (we got 3 out of about 30). Then the fun began!
You had to get into a white gown and wash your face. Then they put a net over your hair and applied a layer of vasoline-type substance all over the areas they would be covering with make up (face, neck, shoulders, arms). Next, they literally painted white ALL over. Eyelids, nose, neck, mouth...everywhere!!! It was very freaky looking! Once the white was applied, they intricately put some red coloring on your brows, lids, and lips. They added some blue to the brows (to make a purply look) and some fake lashes.
When all the make up was on and dry, they helped you get into the kimonos, etc. If you have never had on a kimono - it is basically like a robe that they wrap together soooooooooooooo tightly with a 'belt' (Obi) so you can barely breathe. We quickly learned why Japanese ladies are so thin. You could barely move - let alone eat!
Once your dress was on they put your wig on. This was the most uncomfortable thing to me. The Oirans wigs weighed even more - but it still felt like your head was going to topple over!!!
When you were finally all done - they helped you get into position to match the poses you chose. Some of the poses were easy - but some involved SUPER high shoes (the Oiran) or traditional Japanese sandals (the Geisha) which are very hard to balance on! The photographer was awesome and very professional. The assistants were fast and stealthy. And they edited the pictures literally the second they had been snapped.
The best part was we were allowed to take pictures with our own cameras also. We took shots of the whole process as well as shots of the final product :-) When all was said and done, we walked out with 3 professionally edited and printed pictures in a triple frame and a CD with ALL the professional pics on it.
It was such a fun experience...I can't wait to take friends and family that come and visit!!!