William lords it over samurai saga


Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The Duke of Cambridge was transformed into a samurai warlord when he visited the set of a long-running Japanese drama.

Wearing a glittering helmet, regal red and gold tunic and carrying a replica samurai sword William looked every inch a formidable ruler.

He was transformed into Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Japanese warlord who unified his country in the 16th century, during a tour of the Tokyo studios where the Sunday night historical drama Taiga is filmed.

Now in its 54th series, it features famous characters from Japanese history but changes the period for the action every year with the current series called Hana Moyu or Ardent Flower.

When William first arrived at the studios of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) which makes the show, he was greeted by a long line of actors dressed as soldiers.

He asked one of the senior staff: “Is it a show like EastEnders?” before being taken on to the set that depicted a chaya or tea house, used by samurai as a members’ club, complete with geisha.

As staff put the helmet on his head, the Duke joked: “I feel there should be a sword in my hand as well.” And when he was told actors wore the costume and heavy armour for many hours he replied: “Not particularly easy to go for a coffee break.”

When they were finished he looked into a mirror and asked his entourage: “How do I look?” before adding: “I feel ready for action.”

Before dressing up he watched three geisha actresses dance, while another Maki Shiran, 23, played a three-stringed guitar-like instrument called a shamisen.

At the end of the performance he tried strumming it himself and said “it’s a wonderful noise”, as he plucked the silk strings with a large plectrum, which he was told was made of ivory.

The Duke, who will be travelling to China, where he will speak out against the ivory trade, said with a wry smile: “Oh, is it?”

Mao Inoue, the female star of Hana Moyu, who plays a character called Humi Sugi, presented the Duke with a bouquet of flowers and a hand-made wooden toy for Prince George.

In the hair and make-up department William dissolved into a fit of giggles when Tim Hitchens, Britain’s ambassador to Japan, put on a samurai wig.

The former Queen’s deputy private secretary was game for a laugh and sat in a chair as Kahame Mimura, head of hair dressing and wigs, covered his scalp with a piece of cloth before fitting the hairpiece.

The Duke had considered wearing the wig, made with real hair and slicked back into a tiny ponytail, but said: “If I put this on my brother would never let me forget it – I seriously can’t.”

After the transformation of the senior diplomat William could not resist poking fun and told him through laughter: “This is going straight on to the Foreign Office website – brilliant.”

The ambassador stood up and flexed out his arms as if he were a sumo wrestler and the Duke quipped: “A bit more weight and you would be sorted, get the sumo wrestling going – impressive, a good look.”

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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