on Apr 6, 2018 — Kyoto, Japan
Kamigamo shrine is one of the oldest and most popular shrines in Kyoto. Located in a quiet area in northwest Kyoto, it is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and sees tens of thousands of visitors each year. Famous for its
expansive grounds and sand garden featuring two symmetrical cones, Kamigamo shrine is also known for hosting the annual Aoi (hollyhocks) Festival, one of the 3 great festivals of Kyoto.
[ Go to Shrine Website ]
Our wedding, a Japanese-style wedding (Shinzen-shiki) starts 10:30 AM and finishes 11:15 AM. (About 45 mins).
After our wedding ceremony, we prepare traditional Japanese wedding course meal for our guests at Saami which is one of famous historical Japanese restaurants in Kyoto built in Samurai Era. You can enjoy very artistic and sensetive Japanese real cuisine with fresh Kyoto ingredients with a nice garden view from their windows. The restaurant is quite close to Kyoto city centre and many popular tourist places (famous shrines and temples), you can also enjoy sightseeing and cherry brossoms after the banquet.
We will also organise a 2 or 3 hours ALL YOU CAN EAT & DRINK PARTY from early evening around Kyoto city center area. Admission might be only $30 to $40 per person. Please let us know if you also would like to join the party.
After this, just get drunk and enjoy kyoto night but please don't jump into Kamo River!!!!
Proceed to kami(God) in solemn feeling
Being prepared, a couple proceeds from a waiting room to a sanctuary where a Shinto-style wedding will be conducted. At some jinja(shrine), a procession centering the wedding couple is formed and proceeds slowly toward the sanctuary through the grounds. This is is the procession. It is not a mere procession but a part of a ritual. Moving forward slowly led by Shinto priests and shrine maidens, a couple becomes more and more aware of coming closer to the kami and purify their heart and soul by every single step they make. It is important to set your heart ready and appropriate to stand in front of the kami through the procession.
Being seated in a Hall of Worship located close to kami(God)
The architectural style varies according to which jinja it is. Generally, the main sanctuary, the hall of offerings and the hall of worship are located respectively from the innermost. The main sanctuary is where kami is enshrined. The hall of offerings is where offerings to kami are placed. And the nearest is where the bride and groom and their families, in other words, participants of a ritual are seated. Stepping into the hall of worship means to come close and stand in front of the kami enshrined in the main sanctuary. Facing the kami, the bride sits on the right and the groom sits on the left. This is according to the tradition of recognizing the left side as a higher place.
A priest offers a bow to start a wedding ritual
Now a wedding ritual in front of kami has started. Saishu (a leading priest of the ritual) offers a bow, and the bride and groom and other participants follow the priest. All the participants stand up and offer a bow as the leading priest does. It is important to bow deeply. Although making a deep bow might be difficult for the bride because of kimono or hair ornaments, it is more important to have respect to the kami in your heart.
Making food offerings before reporting marriage
The important thing to do before reporting your marriage to kami is making food offerings. The kami would enjoy the offered food such as rice, sake, water, salt, vegetables, and seafood. When we visit or invite our seniors, it is common to bring or prepare something to please them. Making food offerings is just the same. Offerings are placed not by the bride and groom but by a priest who acts as a go-between. Bottles of sake are opened for the kami to drink.
Reporting the marriage of the bride and groom
Now it’s time to report the marriage of the bride and groom to the kami. The leading priest offers a prayer for this purpose.The prayer is to inform the kami of the purpose and wish of the ritual. It is written in classic Japanese that kami would understand. The prayer is not only to report the marriage but also to wish for the happiness of the new couple and their relatives for ever.
Exchange cups and conclude the pledge of the couple
After reporting and making wishes, the couple exchange cups and conclude the pledge of the couple. A shrine maiden helps this procedure. The dipper held by the maiden contains sake offered to the kami. Since the ancient times, the foods offered to the kami have been considered to contain divine power. The couple drink the sake withdrawn from the alter. By drinking the divine-powered sake using the same cup, the bond as a couple becomes firmer and the couple is blessed by the kami becomes firmer and the couple is blessed by the kami.
*Taking photo is allowed after this part.
Promise to be a good couple
Until this point, priest and maiden lead the procedure step by step. Now, the bride and groom stand in front of the kami by themselves, and recite the words to promise to walk together as a couple. In many cases, groom recites the words. It is in modern Japanese, which is different from the prayer offered by a priest. Though some jinja and wedding halls allow a groom to write his own words and recite, a template is also prepared.
Offering sincerity to kami
This might be the occasion that the bride and groom go closest to the kami during a Shinto-styled wedding. Tamagushi, an evergreen branch with a hemp line or a zigzag paper slip is to represent the sincerity of the person who offers the branch. The bride and groom offer the branch by their own hands and bow twice, clap their hands twice and bow once more. This is also to show appreciation to the blessing of the kami. Offering tamagushi branch has a special manner and it will be taught beforehand.
Two families share sake to unite
‘Marriage’ is not only for the bride and groom to be united but also between two families. At the end of the wedding ritual, all the members of the two families share sake to symbolize their unification. Centering the new couple, two families become one. In the old days, family members offered sake to each other. Today, shrine maidens serve sake and all participants drink together.
A priest offers a bow to conclude the wedding ritual
To conclude the ritual, a bow is offered to the kami at the end of the ritual. Lead by a priest, all the participants stand up and offer a deep and sincere bow to the kami who blessed the marriage of the couple. This is the conclusion of the ritual.
If you are planning on making multiple trips within Japan, the Japan Rail Pass offers the most affordable way to travel around.
Put it this way, a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto will cost you around the same price as a 7 day Rail Pass. The pass covers lots of famous places and cities for tourlists to visit such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Miyajima and more.
(*You must purchase the pass outside Japan. There are numerous official agents that can sell you a Japan Rail Pass online.)
> Japan Rail Pass – Is It Worth It?
> Buy Japan Rail Pass (Officila Japan Rail Pass Australia)
Kyoto is ALWAYS very busy and lots of tourlists visit from overseas especially in cherry brossom season (early April every year), therefore we strongly recommend you to book your Accommodation as earlyn as you can. If you need some help or have any questions, please free to contact Machi or Dave anytime. We are pleased to help you.
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