A very special idea for your honeymoon travel to Japan: to take part in a Shinto ceremony and feel the timeless grace of Japanese traditions.
Sitting in the lobby of the Kyoto Grand Hotel, I look around nervously. An elegant lady in a Japanese kimono gets my attention. She is who have been waiting for: she looks at us with a gentle nod.
“Pleased to meet you, Valentina and Manuel. I am Emiko Ashida and I will be your interpreter and assistant during the wedding. Congratulations!” She gives me her business card with both hands, as the Japanese business etiquette teaches, and leads our way to the taxi.
Emiko thinks we’re spending our honeymoon travel in Japan. She’s curious about our ceremony in Italy, but we reveal her that we are not married yet. She is surprised, and her gentle smile reflects real emotion: it reveals us that she is really honored to assist us during our “first” marriage.
In fact the ceremony we will attend has no legal value, but it will take place according to the Shinto traditions.
A few minutes later, we get to the agency, with which I booked this special experience via web, the Wak Japan. Our anxiety vanishes thanks to the friendliness and the smiles of the staff.
The makeup and dress
We climb to the top floor, where the make-up artist and the stylist are waiting for me. During the preparations Emiko is with us, ready to answer to our questions about the ceremony we will attend: the Shinto ceremony is disappearing, because among the Japanese it is common to celebrate the wedding in the Western style.
My makeup is left natural, with red touches on the eyelids; the hair becomes bulky with small extension cushions and decorated with flowers.
It takes two people to make me dress the shiromuku and tighten it around my waist. The outer robe is white, with shiny decorations of cranes, which wish a happy and long life to the newlyweds.
Manuel watches my transformation, admired.
“You are glowing.” He seems at ease wearing his black ceremonial kimono, the montsuki.
The final touch is given by the veil, called wataboshi, which hides the eyes of the bride and keeps her safe from evil spirits.
The ceremony in the jinja
It is a genuine temple, the one that hosts our ceremony. It is recognizable by the giant torii stone at the entrance.
After getting purified with the water of the spring, the priest shakes bells to attract the attention and ask for the favor of the kami, the spirits and natural phenomena worshipped by Shintoism. Then he intones a litany, the norito.
I do not understand the words of the prayer, but I think to have heard the sound of our names. Emiko confirms this: the priest has asked fortune and prosperity to deities in our name.
I look at Manuel who follows hypnotized the gestures of the priest, and how Emiko show to us, at the right time we clap the hands twice and pray while bowing.
In the end, the officiant offers us the branches of the tamagushi, a Asian evergreen plant favorable to the newlyweds. We offer it as a gift on the altar.
The heart of ceremony
Emiko will be our officiant: he says that our union will be settled by the exchange of the three sake cups, from which will take three sips each. According to history, this custom has been handed down from the samurai: they used to share a cup of sake before facing the battle.
It’s called the ceremony of san san kudo, where the three is repeated three times, a lucky number in the Japanese tradition: with the smallest cup we thank the past, because we met each other; with the second cup, we thank the present and show the determination of getting married; at the end we wish a happy future for our children, by drinking from the last cup, the largest.
It’s one o’clock. After having lunch with a bento, Emiko take us back to the Kyoto station, and greets us, giving us sweets and spices blessed by the priest and a furoshiki, a beautiful Japanese handkerchief.
A truly unique and unforgettable experience… And a perfect idea to give a very special touch to your honeymoon travel to Japan!
Useful info to have this special experience for your honeymoon travel to Japan:
- The wedding package of Wak Japan