Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ikuta Taisha - Shrine Ceremonies

Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Kobe. Founded by the Empress Jingu at the beginning of the 3rd century, it was once used as base for a festival welcoming back warriors after the last japanese invasion of Korea. The shrine's land was much larger back then, before the city of Kobe was built around it.
People visit shrines to pay respect to the Shinto gods (kami) and to pray for good blessings. But shrines are also visited during special events (such as during new year, shichi-go-san and other festivals). Traditionally, the religious japanese wedding ceremony is held in Shinto style at a shrine.
The bride wears a wedding kimono of white silk and the groom wears a black one, decorated with his family crest (kamon, fifth picture from top) in white. During the ceremony, a priest to conduct the ceremony - the couple is first purified, then asked to drink sake (three flat cups of rice wine). The sharing of sake is one of the oldest traditional japanese wedding ceremonial customs (san san kyu do, which means three sets of three sips equal nine) dating back to the 8th century, which symbolizes a formal bond between the bride and groom. Then the groom to read the words of commitment (marriage oath) and the 'I do' stuff.
The ceremony is usually visited by close family members of the couple. Non-family members don't usually attend the marriage ceremony itself, rather they go to the wedding reception (in japanese, kekkon hiroen).
Symbolic offerings are given to the god. During the wedding ceremony, the priest is supported by Shinto serving girls (miko). They must be unmarried and are often the priest's daughter.
If you are attending a Japanese wedding reception, you are expected to bring cash for a gift (called oshugi). The amount depends on your relationship with the couple and the region. Unless the fixed amount is indicated on the invitation card, the average is 30000 yen (approx. RM 1000) for a friend's wedding.
Shichi Go San means 'Seven Five Three'. Girls of age three and seven and boys of age three and five are celebrated on shichi-go-san, and it is prayed for their good health and growth. Girls will put on their prettiest silk kimono.
November 15 is shichi-go-san day. But because the date is not a national holiday, many families bring their children on weekends prior or after that day.

More about Kobe : The Great Hanshin Earthquake.


Melissa said...

I love stumbling upon weddings at Shrines...Is that little girl a gaijin? How cool is that?!

emotionalistic said...

The little girl in kimono is very cute. So nice of her to let you take her picture :D.

Sidney said...

Very interesting series. Nice you include an explanation to every pictures. Very informative. Thanks for sharing!

Patrick Leong said...

melissa, emotionalistic : yes. she is a gaijin (in a way). daddy is french and mum is japanese. she was quite shy. but very pretty girl.

sidney : okie. there are other elements in traditional japanese wedding ceremomy in which i don't understand. but overall, we were lucky to see one at the shrine this time.

zbjernak said...

somemore stated in invitation card?

how bizarre... ahhahahaha

nice jap wedding entries

Anonymous said...

Yup, I know about the 30 000¥. My friend told me about it. Dinners here are expensive so tht is why it is so much.

Desmond Goh said...

Wah Patrick, Ang Pow for wedding cost RM1,000 ?? Here RM100 also killing already leh. Nice pictures and explainations. I enjoyed them very much.

Mad Ethel said...

That little girl in her tiny little kimono is so adorable! Love the pictures!

Patrick Leong said...

zbjernak, ai ling, desmond : well the cost to hold a wedding ceremony at a shinto shrine is very expensive from the rental of the shrine to the traditional silk wedding kimono (the bride will normally change her dress several times). in addition each dish in the japanese wedding banquet is a symbolic wish - for happiness, prosperity, long life or many children (very similar to the chinese custom). therefore only one third of couples in japan marry in the traditional shinto religion wedding ceremony. most commonly because of two reasons - cost, as mentioned and the idealism of Western style 'cinderella' weddings. when my labmate got married, i did not attend the wedding reception instead there was an informal party. slightly cheaper, probably each person about 5000 yen (i have forgotten the price).

mad ethel : hi hi. it has been awhile. nice to see you again here. thanks for comment.

Amanda Brightwell said...

That little girl is just too cute in her fancy outfit!

Anonymous said...

Hello Patrick,

Thanks for posting the pictures and the explainations especially of the wedding at Ikuta Shrine.
It was a rare opportunity to catch it there and YES the little girl is so cute in her colorful kimono. I think she was shy as we both looked at her so often :D .
Well I saw the me and windmill pose, I still think it was funny and thanks for the compliment :D!
Many thanks for your great company in Kobe/Kyoto and hope to see you in Beijing next!


Patrick Leong said...

vicky : i hope so ... beijing (but i think unlikely). thanks for the bak kua and meat floss.

ODD said...

very very interesting and great photo's.
Love the wedding shots and information.