Sunday, 24 April 2011

3 Weddings and a Thunderstorm!

We walked the two miles or so to Kamigamo Shrine as there was a market there of handmade goods sold by the artisans who`d made them. Just as we arrived, we saw a bride getting out of a car dressed in full Japanese bridal kimono. See the white covering on her head? That`s to hide her `cuckold`s horns` (it used to be customary for Japanese men to have many mistresses).
Here`s the happy couple after the main ceremony.
We saw another bride in similar costume, and also a bride in a Western wedding dress. Although the shrine was busy, nobody else seemed to take much notice of the weddings going on all around.

Kamigamo is a shrine to the God of Thunder. As the trusty weather forecast had said there was only a 10% chance of rain, we thought we`d be safe but by now had learnt to do as the Japanese do and take umbrellas everywhere regardless. We`d only just learnt to love our umbrellas yesterday, as it poured all day so we had to take brollies wherever we went. After 30-odd years in the UK, it was the first time I`d really appreciated their functionality.

So we were glad we`d brought them when it started to rain...then came the thunder and lightning! It seemed the God of Thunder was smiling on us in the only way he knew how!
The entrance to the shrine has a lovely big torii gate, with an enormous cherry tree which was still in bloom even though most in Kyoto have fallen by now. We felt lucky to see it in its prime.
There were also lots of horses and riders, practicing for their annual race/horse archery festival on 5th May. This festival has been held for over 300 years and we saw how the men had worn the same costumes then as they do now. A wooden horse showed original tack, which doesn`t fit modern horses as they are much larger than the old ones. Look at the traditional stirrups - we saw some of these at the antique market the other day too.
Some buildings in the shrine had lovely, thatched roofs.
In the afternoon we met our good friend Wakako, who introduced us to her fiance. We were moved to see how much in love they are, as well as being very touchy-feely which is rare in public in Japan. It was also nice that she came up and gave us all a big hug too!
Unfortunately, Tetsuo san couldn`t stay long, but we went round the market with Waka, then walked back to our house for a drink (beer for her, as usual!) and some rice balls I`d knocked up earlier. On a side note, this is the first trip where I`ve done cooking in Japan, and I`ve really enjoyed it as well as saving us some cash!

We gave her some mini eggs as it`s Easter Day today, and it`s a tradition for me to send her some every year. Here we are having a relax in the house. She could only spare a few hours to be with us, but it was a precious time as we weren`t sure we`d be able to see her at all this trip.
Oh and by the way, the rain did EVENTUALLY clear up!!!

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