“Shinro Shimpu, Banzai” – Witnessing New Beginnings In Japan!

Despite rare, high tech instances of nuptials being led by robots, the majority of Japanese are said to prefer traditional Shinto weddings at venues of their choosing, or more commonly in their neighbourhood Shinto shrines.

We must have chosen a very auspicious weekend to visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine in Kamakura, judging by the number of wedding ceremonies in progress!



This bride’s white Kimono, called ‘Shiromuku‘ seemed like very fine silk and was exquisitely embroidered with auspicious crane motifs. The groom wore a Haoiri-Hakama, a men’s kimono.


It was as much fun watching fellow tourists running around in excitement, as it was to watch these beautiful couples in their wedding finery and their solemn, elegant traditions.

I did feel like a voyeur for a while, till I was reminded that temple weddings in India are quite the same with gawking pilgrims and tourists (perhaps not as many avid photographers:-)) In any case I learnt later that these couples were more than happy to pose for some of my travel mates!

The slideshow below shows a traditional ritual in progress in the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine in Kamakura. The ritual is called ‘San-San-Kudo’. The ceremony begins with ritual purification and prayers. Then the couple drinks sake – taking three sips each from three cups poured by the Miko (shrine maiden) – and the groom reads words of commitment. To end the ceremony the newly weds then offer twigs of Sakaki in the direction of the sanctuary of the shrine to thank the Gods and give worship. There was even an exchange of rings!

Please join me in wishing these newly weds – “Shinro Shimpu, Banzai” (Long life and happiness).

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