A walk through the tranquil forest of Yoyogi Park and into the grounds of the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo‘s Harajuku district will not only enable you to escape the constant noise of the busy Japanese metropolis, it could also offer the opportunity to witness a traditional Shinto wedding party.
Surrounded by an estimated 120,000 towering pine trees the temple is a peaceful sanctuary dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken, providing the perfect backdrop for a wedding. Shintoism is the indigenous faith of Japan and was made the state religion during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Although it is now separated from the state, Shintoism is still a predominant Japanese faith, therefore Shinto weddings are a common event at the shrine.
Weddings most commonly take place during summer or autumn and are formal yet simple affairs with only close friends and family present. It is not uncommon for multiple ceremonies to be held at the shrine on the same day. The ceremony includes purification, prayers and the exchange of sake – visitors to the shrine will not be allowed access to this part of the ceremony but they may catch the wedding procession on their way out of the shrine where they can see the traditional white Kimono and the colourful red parasols held over the new bride.
Bearing witness to a traditional wedding in a country where you are living as an expat offers an exclusive insight into the tradition and cultural practices of the people and so I was delighted when a wedding party passed as we spent a day at the Meiji Shrine.
Have you attended or witnessed a traditional wedding cereomony whilst travelling/living overseas? Tell all in the comment section below.