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We love Japan. We really do. Some people really really love it though. Sarah and Robbie love Japan so much, that they went and got married there! You may remember last year Sarah did a blog post for us about why she wanted to get married in Japan It wasn’t just words. Sarah and Robbie have recently returned from Japan from what can only be described as an amazing wedding day. People often try and do something a bit different at their wedding, but this is completely different. What is even better, is that Sarah wanted to share her experience with us. Sarah and her husband look fantastic in their traditional wedding clothes and I am sure that they will never forget this special trip. Anyway, in her own words and pictures, here is how it all went..
My husband and I returned to Kyoto to do what most people find very intriguing. We went to Kyoto for our honeymoon…not that different you might think… We were newly weds yes, but decided to make our marriage extra special by indulging in another one!
We have been together nearly 10 years, not quite childhood but ‘teenage’ sweethearts. Our wedding day in England was very emotional and extremely special as it had been a long time coming!
When planning our honeymoon… (well I say planning. It was going to be Japan all along) I came upon Inside Japan’s wedding package. It was perfect! A wedding in Japan, a country which I have adored since I was a little girl and a place which embraced us so warmly on our first visit 2 years ago.
The wedding package included a three night stay at the Granvia hotel, three nights in a junior suite (overlooking Kyoto Tower by the way) and our breakfast/evening meals.
Our first day at the Granvia hotel involved choosing our wedding attire. I chose a beautiful ivory shiromuku ordained with cranes (the ones you see leaping in the air during the breeding season on the snowy plains of Hokkaido) and I opted for the traditional ‘wataboshi’, a white standing veil/hood which is held up by what can only be described as hair scaffolding. The purpose of the wataboshi is said to hide the horns of jealousy of the bride. Rob wore traditional Japanese groom ‘hakama’ which looks like long pleated skirt and a ‘haori’ a type of coat/jacket.
On the morning of the ceremony we were dressed by the Granvia staff (and you could tell they had done it all before!) The shiromuku I was wearing involved an under dress, several layers and lots of padding! It was very heavy (I had been warned by a Japanese friend of mine so I was prepared!). Before the wataboshi was put in place the hairdresser placed ‘kanzashi’ in my hair, beautiful dangly hair ornaments you often see framing the faces of maiko.
We were driven to the Kamigamo shrine, one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. After a brief walk-through of the ceremony with one of the priests, we were lead to the shrine where the ceremony was to be held. Several people visiting shouted ‘omedetou gozaimasu’ or congratulations. This made the day extra special as we were being embraced by the Japanese people by having a traditional ceremony in their country.
Before we entered the shrine we did a purification ritual. Water was poured over our hands by the priest while he recited a purification prayer. A purification ritual was then performed by another priest at the shrine. We were then offered ‘Omiki’ or sacred sake. After sipping three times from three cups we exchanged rings (the same ones we exchanged all the way back in England) and offered a Tamagushi or a sacred branch to the alter. During the ceremony beautiful gagaku music was performed by priests (if you haven’t heard gagaku music please google it and watch the hairs on your arms stand up…simply beautiful).
After the ceremony which lasted around 30 minutes we were driven back to the Granvia hotel where we were lead to a large open area in the hotel grounds. A tradition of some Japanese weddings is to ring a large bell…so we did! The staff surrounded us and clapped. I did everything I could not to cry with happiness. That evening, we indulged in a 10 course wedding breakfast which included: sashimi, tempura, miso soup and beautiful tender beef, all brought to us on ornately decorated plates. Oishii!
I would recommend having a wedding ceremony in Japan if, like me, you are fascinated by different cultures or want a special way to exchange vows with the person you love… or you have an insane obsession with Japan in general (like me). The package was worth every penny. From the moment we stepped in to the hotel lobby we were treated like William and Kate and the attention to detail was just out of this world. I am proud to say I got married twice!
To all the staff at Inside Japan and the Granvia Hotel, Kyoto. Thank you so much for allowing Rob and I to share such a beautiful and perfect experience with each other. None of it would have been possible without your knowledge, passion and love for Japan. I look forward to the day we can show our children how beautiful and special Japan is and why I fell in love with a country so far away from a tiny village in Yorkshire.
I haven’t actually met Rob or Sarah in person, but since their original trip a few years ago, their blog post last year and their wedding, it has been an absolute pleasure dealing with them. It is great to know that other people love the country and culture that you love too….if not a little more! We were all very excited to see the photos from the wedding and I am sure you will agree that they both look amazing. We wish them all the best for the future . I am sure that this is not the last time that they will be visitng Japan.