Monday, 26 February 2018

Beyond The Frame | The Shinto Bride | Meiji Shrine | X-Pro2

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
It's a real shame that the traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies in Japan have dropped in popularity in the recent years, and that these only represent 20% of all weddings in the country, dropping from 70%. The drop may have to do with Japan's modernization, but it may also have to do with the high costs to set up Shinto weddings.

These photographs of a Shinto wedding ceremony were made at the famous Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya, Tokyo; the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. There were a number of photographers surrounding the couple, including the wedding photographer who seemed resigned that 'poachers' were on his turf.

I don't remember what I did to earn the couple's unbridled laughter, but it might have been my atrocious Japanese pronunciation in wishing them well...or my elbowing my way through the cluster of people with mobile phones trying to take pictures. 

Shinto wedding rituals are comparatively recent, being based on the ceremony used for the wedding of Crown Prince Yoshihito and Princess Sado in 1900. The ceremonies predating this royal wedding varied a great deal.

The weddings are usually small-scale affair involving the couple, their families and close friends. The bride normally wears a white kimono with a white scarf to indicate purity.

The ceremonies begin with a ritual purification; followed by prayers that are offered for the couple to have good luck, happiness and the protection of the kami 
(spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the Shinto religion). Then the couple drinks sake - taking three sips each from three cups poured by the miko (shrine maiden) - and the groom reads words of commitment.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
Once the wedding is about to commence, the couple walks into the shrine, a process traditionally called sanshin. The processions into the Meiji shrine involve the couple to be wedded walking in line with the Shinto priests.

The above photograph was made as the couple, followed by their respective fathers, made their way to the shrine to complete their vows. Attendants were very strict in preventing people from approaching too closely, but I chose a good spot and waited for the couple's exit. 

While I have a number of such frames, my positioning and that "click moment" makes it it look as if the bride is on her own..but the grey bottom fringes of the groom's kimono are visible.

The Shinto weddings at the shrine are very staid and solemn with the bride and groom wearing serious expressions (except for the frivolous moment I captured), and the processions are -to my eyes- almost funerary-like. 

The Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 Meiji Jingū) is located in Shibuya, Tokyo, and is the shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

For a gallery of my monochrome photographs: Tokyo Noir

The technical details for the top photograph are: Fuji XT-1+ 16-55mm. 1/3600th sec Hand Held. f4.0. iso 400. Pattern Metering. Date: 2017-03-18 at 10:40:02 (Tokyo time). Post Processed Using Color Efex.

The technical details for the lower photograph are: Fuji X-Pro2 + 
16-55mm. 1/750 sec Hand Held. f4.0. iso 640. Pattern Metering. Date: 2017-03-18 at 11:29:00 (Tokyo time). Post Processed Using Color Efex.