A bride with traditional Japanese kimono dresses in all pure white from head to toe. Such bride would be seen at a Shinto style wedding, or “Shinzen Kekkonshiki” which means a wedding before the gods.
Traditionally, such religious weddings are held at Shinto shrines. But it has become common that they are also taken place at hotels and ceremony halls holding shrines within the facilities. The groom wears a set of black kimono dresses called “haori” (jacket) and “hakama” (skirt-like pants). A Shinto priest “Iwainushi” leads the wedding ceremony with female shrine assistants “Miko”.
Although the ceremony is all sacred and the couples are often asked not to grin throughout the wedding, they don’t necessarily believe in Shinto. This is also true that some of non-Christian couples choose to have weddings at Christian churches.
One of the highlights at the ceremony is the drinking of sake by the couples with three different sizes of flat cups called “sakazuki”. The cups are designed specifically to drink sake. In this ritual called “san-san-kudo” which literally means three-three-nine-times, the bride and groom take turns having three sips of sake gradually from the three kinds of bowls. By drinking sake with the shared cups, the couples swear to the gods that they will share hardships for their entire lives.
Among the major shrines conducting the Shinto style weddings in Tokyo are Meiji Jingu, Atago Jinja and Yushima Tenmangu (Yushima Tenjin).
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