Japanese bride, Kamakura, Japan

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Japanese wedding customs fall into two categories: traditional Shinto ceremonies, and modern Western-style weddings. Even today, there are two types of mate selection that may occur with the couple: (o)miai, or arranged marriage and ren’ai, or love match.

The Japanese bride-to-be may be painted pure white from head to toe, visibly declaring her maiden status to the gods. Two choices of headgear exist. One, the watabōshi, is a white hood; the other, called the tsunokakushi, serves to hide the bride’s ‘horns of jealousy.’ It also symbolizes the bride’s intention to become a gentle and obedient wife.

Traditional Japanese wedding customs (shinzen shiki) involve an elaborate ceremony held at a Shinto shrine. Japanese weddings are being increasingly extravagant with all the elaborate details placed into thought.

I always thought about these wedding ceremonies as cultural performance. Indeed, it is always a feast for the eyes and the dream of any foreign photographer in Japan, or actually, for any photographers, period. The costumes, the attitudes, the manners, the processus, everything is done in a way and with a specific meaning based on tradition. It is one of the best and most  beautiful representation of the Japanese culture one can see today.

Traditional Shinto Japanese wedding, Kamakura, Japan, March 2006


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1 Comment

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