Essay by Ainu
Japanese Wedding Kimono
The first time I saw a bride wearing the wedding kimono was in Nagoya in November 2007. I had just arrived to my first trip to Japan on the previous day. The second day I went for a Shrine visit with acquaintances and enjoyed watching the three, five and seven-year-old children there with their parents. Many were wearing traditional Japanese clothes.
Traditional Japanese Wedding Party (Photo: in courtesy of author)
But I turned my head left and I noticed a wedding party being photographed. I never dreamed to see this kind of thing, but the bride just stood from the crowd. The bright whiteness of the outer kimono almost hurt my eyes. The groom looked nerdy and funny, the bride serene and witty. The bride's black hair was up high and decorated with yellow ornaments. Encouraged by my company I went closer and took some pictures. To see the kimono brocade better one would have needed to go closer than I dared to go.
My Japanese friend got excited when it became clear to us that the wedding ceremony was going to start soon, partially in open air. He told me that Japanese style weddings are expensive and rare nowadays. So we watched the ceremony for a while. The priest recited and the bride and groom sat there in front of him. The bride had put her hood on and we couldn't see her face anymore. I felt lucky. It was only the second day in Japan and I had been able to see something so wonderful already... Many unexpected things happened during my month there, but now I must concentrate on my encounters with the wedding kimono.
A week afterwards I was visiting the Himeji Castle and I had bought the combination ticket, which allowed me to go for a stroll in the botanical garden nearby. The sun was setting and I had to hurry because of later engagements. But halfway the Japanese garden I saw a beautiful sight. A bride and groom were standing on a small stone bridge and the groom held a red parasol. It was another wedding photo shoot. A more romantic place could have been hard to find. The leaves of the trees were changing colour and gave the pictures a lovely background.
When the couple was leaving the bride kindly turned around to show people the kimono. She smiled widely, and I could see her cute - pearly but uneven - teeth. She sure looked happy. Well, she must have made the most of the opportunity to wear such wonderful festive clothing! It was unusually warm for the time of the year and the cherry tree in front of the castle entrance had started to bloom again. "It must feel hot to wear so many layers of cloth", I thought. But of course I envied the young bride. White doesn't suit me at all, so I wouldn't look as good in it. There are other colours of outer wedding kimono in Japan but this kimono really complimented the dark hair and ashy brown skin colour of the Japanese bride.
The kimono had long sleeves and it was embroidered with various flowers and cranes. The soft edge of the hem reminded me of the purest first snow piled on top of a fence. Two little tassels hanged from the chest of the bride and she had a white hat (with a red lower edge) on. Because the outer kimono is very long, it was tucked up for walking. But the bride still had someone, probably her mother, to help her ascend the stairs when she went away.