Each 5th of May, Japan celebrates Children’s Day, or more specifically Boy’s Day. But this May 5th, 6 women from different sides of the world braved discomfort and made a stand to make a change. The 6 women were Solar Generation delegates working with Greenpeace to pressure the Asian Development Bank to fund the energy revolution at their annual meeting in Kyoto. To get our message across and to bring some colour to what was otherwise a boring meeting, we decided to stage a performance in keeping with our surroundings at the meeting's opening reception.
In the morning we travelled all the way from the Kyoto Conference Centre to a kimono shop. We arrived a little late and the woman who owns the shop was already waiting for us outside. She started talking away in Japanese and didn't seem to mind whether we understood what she was saying! We chose the most colourful kimonos then started with the make up marathon.
There was much excitement and laughter as we all had our faces painted white. It took almost an hour for one delegate to get dressed. And everything was just so tight, from the hair to the dress. You could neither be too full, as you would have trouble fitting into the kimono layers, nor too hungry, as there was a long evening to endure. As our preparations began at 11:30 and
we'd skipped breakfast, we had to satisfy ourselves with cookies and a few sandwiches. Once tightly bound in the kimonos, we knew that paying a visit to the toilet would be complicated to say the least so we kept our liquid intake to a minimum.
Our preparations took around 5 hours. We were supposed to leave by 3 but it was just so impossible. It became even more complicated when we discovered we'd have to wear traditional wooden slippers. They were really painful on the soles of our feet and were really difficult to walk in. Also, it was hard to tell which was for the right foot and which was for the left. We had to walk really slowly.
We were done by 4:15 and our slow procession headed for the metro. Because the multiple layers of the kimonos bunched up behind us, it was really difficult to sit down and we had to give each other a wide berth in case our elaborate hair dos knocked into each other! We had one common statement at the end of the day, “It’s not so good to be a geisha.”
Well, I guess all the aches in back, feet, and head paid off. We worked hard for the attention people gave us. We engaged the Bank's highest officials in debates about climate change and the clean energy solutions that the Bank could enable. It turned out to be a very good strategy to communicate our message, even though part of it was the wrong way round in the beginning "NOW ENERGY CLEAN! ADB QUIT COAL!” - don't worry, we fixed it very quickly;-)