As expected the Shinto wedding was quite quick, simple, but artistically and beautifully done. I won’t mention here that it is possibly the nicest wedding ceremony I’ve attended as atleast a few people reading this might start venturing in to voodoo ….

The ceremony was held in a wedding shrine attached to Happoen, a beautiful set of gardens which I would have toured round before hand if it had not been raining. We met up in an ante room where tea was served. Everyone met here including the bride and groom. There was only three of us here was the UK (exluding Derek and Kaoru), Derek’s mother and an old friend of his, Owen. At this stage it was informal and a very pleasant atmosphere. In some respects I think this stage may have partly been so the bride and groom could relax after getting changed, as the traditional Japense clothing does take a while to put on and requires a number of people.

Next we went in to the shrine area post instructions not to take photos. We guests were lines along the side walls in a specific order, with Kaoru and Derek sitting in the middle. The ceremony was very nice, a couple of shrine maidens assisted a priest, and a couple of monks (?) played pipe instruments at the start and end. While it only lasted a short while I do regret the fact we could not record it in any way, it’s one of those things I’m unlikely to see again and will regret that. At the end everyone drinks sake – as a way of bringing the two famillies together. It was only a small amount, but for the bride and groom, their fourth cups (though still all small). One thing that was especially nice was that the priest would occasioanlly explain to Derek’s mother what the parts were about in English.

Once the actual wedding had finished we went outside for photos. While the area we went to is reserved for wedding parties, you di get the impression that Happoen is some where worth coming to for relaxation. Photos finished it was back inside for the meal.

Before we were served Kaoru and Derek got to smash open a barrel of sake. This is the Japanese equivalent of cutting the cake, as in it’s a good luck celebration event.

I can now say I’ve had Kaiseki ryori – high class banquet. While all the courses were small in nature, each had specific flavours and appearance, and there were 10 of these. Along side which was copious quantities (if you wanted them) of beer and high quality sake. The sake was served in cyrpus cups (Masu) possibly giving a slight wood chip taste to the drink. I say possibly because the sake is of a type that is matured in ceder wood casks, so the flavour may already have been there. Needless to say I will have to hit the Japan Centre and The Japanese Rice Wine Shop to see if I can get some of this type.

The only entertainment during the meal (aside from casual conversation) was a slide show from the Glasgow wedding (Derek and Kaoru got married in a church in Glasgow last October (?) this one was for tradition reasons), plus the usual toasts.

Post meal it was thank yous and good byes. I’ve now come back to the hotel to meet up with Pak before planning the evening’s events. Kaoru will be ringing me later about tomorrow (a group of us are going to watch an act of Kabuki).

Note :- I won’t be posting pictures of the wedding online unless Derek and Kaoru ask me to do so, and then only the ones they say, and as we were not allowed to take pictures of the ceremony itself, you’ll just be missing the usual wedding photos that only mean anything to the people who were there (like me) and those whocould not make it.

Ja matte