On a break from a job interpreting for a visiting American, I took her through Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. Located deep in Yoyogi Park, the Shrine is dedicated to the Meiji Emperor, who died in 1912. For 21st-century Japanese, however, it is better known as the site for New Year's celebrations and as a green oasis close to chic Harajuku and the 1964 Olympic facilities.
While strolling through the grounds of the Shrine itself, we noticed a silent procession wending its way through one of the outer recesses of the building. Led by a Shinto priest, the group consisted mainly of men in black formal wear, several women in pastel-colored kimono, a few more women in black kimono, two acolytes, and, smack in the middle, a bride clad all in white. Her wedding robes, the shiromaku ("pure white"), wrapped her frame and were topped off with tsuno kakushi, or "horn hiders." This is thought to control the envy represented by the metaphorical horns all women are said to possess.
These type of ceremonies are now rare as most young women prefer the fairytale ideal of a white dress and pseudo-chapel where a "Minister"--usually a native speaker of English who dons robes only on the weekends, reads from a Japanese text he may or may not understand, and pull in a fat fee--leads the ceremony. A ceremony that takes place out of doors at Meiji Shrine is even more unusual.
The procession was immediately surrounded by foreign and Japanese tourists, who snapped pictures of the woman in particular. The wedding party moved on wordlessly, finally entering another part of the Shrine and disappearing from view.
Umbrellas from Japan
Japan Tokyo Kimono Meiji Shrine Harajuku
Sunday, April 09, 2006