Almost every time I visit the grand Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura I get the chance to visit one of their gorgeous traditional wedding ceremonies. The shrine is not only one of the biggest tourists attractions of Kamakura but also very popular with couples all over Kanagawa prefecture and beyond! I saw two ceremonies when I was there a couple of weeks ago, and here are some snapshots of one of them, from the whole ceremony waiting in the shade to the seating at the raised platform before the shrine itself. It was an exceedingly hot and sunny day with temperatures near 34 degrees celsius in the shade!
On my last trip to Okinawa I visited the relatively new Chura-Sun beach (美らSUNビーチ) right to the south of Naha Airport and saw this group of wedding photographers doing their best to capture a young couple in the classic “groom getting blown away”. If you have ever been to a wedding in Okinawa, you know this pose! I was there in the winter and the beach was quite deserted, not least due to the cold winds. Even Okinawa gets chilly in the winter. I always thought of Okinawa as Japan’s own paradise. It is quite expensive to go there from the mainland but I am sure the locals are happy to keep it that way. I wouldn’t mind spending a few months there in spring or summer!
Almost every time I visit the grand shrine in Kamakura, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu there seems to be a wedding going on. It’s a great opportunity to see the finest kimono and listen to the thousand of years old ceremonial music being played live. I caught this ceremony a couple of days ago, the bride looked really nervous as she was taking instructions from the priest assistants. Since it’s currently Golden Week here in Japan the shrine was packed with tourists and visitors enjoying the great weather and that in itself should be enough to make any bride nervous! The groom looked much more relaxed. It’s not all that common to see these traditional ceremonies performed out in the open, usually they are confined to the inner sanctum of the shrines. At most you can see the traditional wedding parade if you visit places like the Meiji Jingu in central Tokyo, but this shrine in Kamakura (Kanagawa prefecture) is one of the best for seeing traditional weddings!
I think I have a hidden talent: wedding photographer. Here’s a happy looking couple whose attention I managed to get through their car window the other week. A white limousine is the way to go even here in Tokyo! But I like the traditional transport too, or why not on foot, or in a traditional kimono?