Wedding Stalkers Anonymous Welcomes Two New Members

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.

A Summer Wedding- The Bride is wearing a colored Kimono.

The female miko- shaman or priestess-lead the way while an elated new mother in law assists the bride.

Once the priests join the procession, I`m teetering from the tree limbs to watch unencumbered by the other picture snapping tourists.

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.

The photographer seemed nonplussed by our attentions so we pushed it by moving in closer.

Eventually the photographer had enough. In order to relieve himself of our uninvited attention, he motioned us to join in. The groom was thrilled to extend the photo session.

We didn`t stay long as he was poised to start beating us with the fan clenched in his hand.

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.

Perhaps Spouse and I should renew our vows at the 20 year mark with a Shinto celebration. I fear his expression will mimic that of the groom with whom we are pictured…

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37 Responses to Wedding Stalkers Anonymous Welcomes Two New Members

  1. Diane McGee says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing


  2. Claire says:

    That is the one thing we didn’t get to see. I’m glad you have the social chairman to stalk the local wedding ceremonies with you. Beautiful pictures!


  3. Kate Allison says:

    Emily, you’re hilarious! Sniggering here from start to finish. πŸ™‚


  4. I always have a huge smile on my face when I’m reading your posts; they’re so well-worded and funny πŸ˜€ I’m tempted to abandon the traditional Indian dress I must put on at my wedding (whenever it may be) for a gorgeous kimono like the ones here!


    • Ah thanks PM! That makes my day! The Indian weddings are also beautiful! I`m friends with an Indian family that owns a restaurant and they invited me to their daughter`s wedding- I was in awe!


  5. Beautiful outfits, and I love the difference between us Westerners and the serious Japanese. Not sure how it happened, but we have all been brainwashed in having to smile on photographs, I suppose it’s natural, at least for us. I cannot imagine not smiling, unless I’m doing it for a reason, like my author/blog photo where I want to look moody in a mysterious way. Loved the photo of you posing with the couple too. Agree on your comment about Indian weddings, beautiful clothes too.


  6. Great post, Emily. How funny that you even got a photo with the bride and groom.

    By the way, they wear socks with flip-flops in Vietnam, but the socks are like mittens for your feet. Sometimes I wear socks with my flip-flops just to hear Sara mock my efforts to be Asian. Sad, isn’t it? And culturally insensitive, I suppose.

    (Also, if you get fewer views than usual on this post, I got an empty email announcing this post–no link, no text, just a gray screen. I got here via my blogroll.)



  7. Lisa Wields Words says:

    I love all of these images. I only went to one wedding (including all the ceremonies) while I was there, but I wish I was a clever wedding stalker like you.


  8. Emiel says:

    I loved this one Emily, great post! I can already imagine you sneaking up on Shinto weddings every weekend πŸ™‚
    They don’t really smile do they? It’s serious business and everything has to be done with the utmost respects for shinto priests and parents. Japan is such an interesting country…


    • I also think it extends to the other Asian countries. I have a Korean friend who is always making fun of her parents in pictures for not smiling- and they smile ALL the time- unless in a picture.


  9. jacquelincangro says:

    The kimonos are stunning. They look like works of fine art. Are they as impressive in person as they are in the photos?
    Your stalking techniques are impressive. I bet you can extend this to other facets of your life – if you can get me into George Clooney’s Lake Como estate, I would happily send you a lifetime supply of gum (or something equally awesome).


    • The kimonos are even more striking in person. In the photos you can`t tell that there are different fabrics through out the kimono and under garments. The trimmings on the garments, the hair decorations. It`s all just stunning. I`ll try to think of a plan to get you close to Geroge without getting arrested!


  10. It is charming to see people of all countries reliving the ancient rites of their particular culture. Part of social anthropology and gives insights to ethos of a people.


  11. Yousei Hime says:

    I vote a definite Yes! on the Shinto-style vowel renewal. Also, could you dig a little and offer some posts on Shinto religion, traditions, and lore.


    • Hey there- yes that`s a great idea! There are so many things to write about when it comes to the Shinto practices.


      • Yousei Hime says:

        Oh my, did I really type vowel renewal? Good grief. I’m afraid you’ll have to put a bit more effort in than just vowels. Perhaps vows would work. That typically includes a few consonants and adoring looks. Definitely a little sake. I look forward to what you have to share. πŸ™‚


  12. Dana says:

    Haha– love that you were able to capture the mixed wedding photo. The Westerners definitely look a little goofy in comparison to the mysterious Japanese, no? I’ll also have to try being more serious in future photos, if that particular wedding picture is any indication of how dorky I look to other people in my shots!


  13. 2summers says:

    Love this. I’m going to my first South African wedding tomorrow. I hope it’s as blog-worthy as a Japanese wedding!


  14. I love this post, Emily, especially the photo of the underside of the umbrella!

    My friend Tom (who is an ex-pat American living in New Zealand), did a neat post about attending his niece’s wedding in India…beautiful photos!



  15. Lu says:

    Ha Ha! Elated new mother-in-law makes me smile πŸ™‚


  16. Beautiful photographs! Who pays for the two weddings – maybe that’s why the bride’s family look so sombre? Having photos of dead relatives in the wedding photos is a little odd. But then I’ve just experienced my mother’s strange photographic display, which makes the Japanese custom seem normal!

    You and Heather (2Summers) have a lot in common – did you see her recent wedding crasher post?


  17. Michi says:

    Ahahaha! As soon as I started reading this post, I thought of suggesting you renew your vows with a Shinto celebration, so that last line was even more of a kicker. You really should, the posts including all of the preparations leading up to day would be so much fun to read. πŸ˜‰ I love that you were able to get a photo with the couple, the groom’s expression is classic!


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