Hi, my name is Ouisar-san and I`m a wedding stalker.
I have a fetish for Japanese Shinto weddings. The urge to ambush elated couples during their nuptial celebration stems from experiences as a child. I don`t recall which ones exactly. To clarify, I`m not interested in the Western Style wedding characterized by the white ball gown and tux in which many Japanese also participate on the path toward marriage. No, the blissful couple need only to worry about my presence at their second ceremony- the Shinto rites.
For nosy individuals such as myself, the opportunity to poke my protuberance into the private lives of strangers is too tempting to leave alone.
After a year in Japan, I optimize my chances of stalking success by timing the visits to Meiji Shrine at 11:00 on weekends. I hide in front of the ceremony building in order to capture action shots of the procession.
The female miko- shaman or priestess-lead the way while an elated new mother in law assists the bride.
Japan is the only place outside of the US Pacific Northwest where it is acceptable to wear socks with sandals. Although I`m not apt to wear the traditional zori, (Traditional sandals always worn with socks) the Priests` clogs are tempting for achieving that long-legged look.
Not all days are created equal if one wants to follow the Japanese tradition. The days marked “Taian” on the calendar are lucky and auspicious for weddings while the “Shakku” days are bad luck- all day. Other days are marked as bad luck in the morning but not the afternoon, good luck part of the day, etc. During a Taian day at Meiji Shrine, the constant number of wedding processions appear to be marching off an assembly line.
After chasing the procession into the shrine, I get a little something to eat in preparation for the next phase.
The family photos.
There`s so much fodder on which to elaborate it`s hard to focus my thoughts- the black formal kimonos, pictures of deceased parents, the solemn faces.
In a mixed marriage, one would assume the non-Asian portion would be lamenting the loss of a relative to the distant country of Japan while the Japanese contingent would be celebrating an institution in serious decline and causing the population to drop. However, as is the habit, the Western half grins as if on a Broadway audition while the Japanese side peers out stoically.
Although I`ve not yet secured an actual invitation to a Shinto wedding, I have managed to participate in unexpected ways. On a recent trip to a small shrine known for its lanterns, the Social Chairman (she knows everyone from Tennessee to Tokyo) and I stumbled across a mark, I mean couple, sitting for a wedding portrait.
Once shooed away, we continued our investigation of the wedding trappings to discover the umbrella. Even the small aspects of the ceremony are interesting much to the dismay of the Japanese watching us take pictures of the umbrella`s underside.