Prince William dons samurai gear on Japan tour

Prince William dons samurai gear on Japan tour

TOKYO - Britain's Prince William donned the trappings of feudal nobility in Japan Saturday, wearing the helmet and clothes of an ancient samurai during a tour of a TV studio.

The second-in-line to the British throne asked for a sword to complete the outfit, and grinned at photographers as he posed for pictures dressed as a warrior from yesteryear.

William, whose own military career saw him taking the controls of an ultra-modern helicopter, asked: "How does it look?"

"It really suits you," came the reply.

The dressing up session took place at the main studios of Japan's national broadcaster NHK, on the set of one of its popular long-running period dramas.

Earlier, he had been treated to a geisha show in which the ornately-attired women performed dances with fans and then sang traditional songs as they played "shamisen" -- a three-stringed instrument sometimes described as a Japanese banjo.

William, who has left his heavily pregnant wife, Kate, at home, tried his hand strumming the instrument, whose mastery remains a key skill for geisha.

The highly-trained entertainers learn to sing, dance and converse, with the cost of their company running up to thousands of dollars for an evening.

The British prince was presented with a huge bunch of flowers by popular actress Mao Inoue, who looked stunning in a simple kimono.

The visit to the set was a reminder of the pageantry and tradition in Japan, which at times outstrips that of even Britain's convention-bound royal family.

William later toured the newsroom at NHK, one of the world's biggest broadcasters, which has bureaus around the globe, and was told how the corporation had covered the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011.

Later Saturday and into Sunday, he is due to visit areas ravaged by the disaster, which claimed around 19,000 lives and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

Many of those displaced are still unable to return home, in some cases because of radiation that leaked from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, with scientists warning some areas may have to be abandoned.

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