Tokyo Mon Amour

Tying the knot Japanese style

You need not marry a Japanese girl or boy to have your “Big Ceremony” in an ancient Japanese temple or shine Shinto-style.

To have a Shinto-style wedding ceremony the couple must first get married under civil law in a government office and obtain a marriage certificate.

More Japanese are choosing to remain single or marry later in life so some of the Shinto shines around Tokyo hold demonstration weddings from time to time to entice prospective brides and grooms to come along and see how the shine performs the Shinto ceremony.

At the demonstration you will see the various steps in getting married at this particular shine. The Japanese bride and groom will be actors but the priests are real.

The traditional Japanese wedding does not have bridesmaids or a best man and only family members and close relatives attend. In addition to the shrine’s priest an older married couple or person (usually a woman) assists the couple during the ceremony.

The bride will be dressed in a traditional white silk kimono called shiro-maku and the groom will be dressed in formal attire consisting of a black kimono with traditional hakama pants.

The ceremony will start with a purification ritual performed by the priest.

There are many interesting aspects to the traditional Japanese wedding such as both bride and groom writing vows on small wooden sticks then tying the vow sticks together in front of the priest. Other rituals include drinking sake and may also include western practices such as exchanging wedding rings.

You can register to attend one of these demonstrations, which are put on every six months or so.

If you are traveling to Japan the best time to see a traditional Japanese wedding is in the spring or autumn or during a “Lucky Day”, an auspicious day in the Japanese calendar. On these days hundreds of couples get married.

These wedding ceremonies are easy to spot if you are visiting a Shinto shine. Outside the shine you will see the couple walking under a large red umbrella with the wedding entourage. By being under the umbrella they will avoid bad luck falling on them.