Meiji Shrine weddings attract big crowds. They might well be one reason why some visitors go there. These Shinto events are very colorful and traditional. People still find that very attractive. They look so good in photographs.
But, before you go to Meiji Shrine to see one, you need to look online for a special calendar. You need the type that shows Rokyuo, the days of good or bad fortune days. The culture for it comes from ancient China.
The luckiest day is Tai-an (大安). It will give you the best chance to see a procession. And there will probably be many of them because everyone loves good fortune.
And there are days to be avoided. A few are even favorable before or after certain times. Japanese couples plan their wedding days accordingly to make themselves as lucky as possible.
But having said that, many shrines offer discounts on unlucky days. That keeps business coming, so don’t be surprised to see people getting hitched on Butsumetsu, the worst of days.
Processions are very solemn. Meiji Shrine weddings usually have two priests lead them. Then the Miko (shrine maidens), attendants, and the couple, under a red umbrella, with their attendants, follow them. Family and friends bring up the rear. Everyone enters the courtyard, in front of the main hall, and move across it to the shrine. Once the ceremony is over, the procession goes back in the same order and route.
In both directions, visitors rush to find a good position to watch. Smartphones and cameras form a wall along the route. The click of shutters becomes very audible.
When you are photographing a marriage procession, it is easy to get lost in the moment. It’s possible to forget where you are trying to get a good picture as the bridal couple pass. Sometimes, people forget to keep out of the way. They creep forward, trying to get that perfect picture and block the procession. It’s nearly happened to me more than once. Luckily, staff in the courtyard announce the comings and goings of parades. They will give you a polite warning if you get too close.
These weddings are great opportunities to see them up close. Some of the brides’ kimonos are extremely beautiful and must cost a fortune. And if you’re lucky, some couples appear again with a photographer to take photos around the shrine.
Many shrines around Tokyo offer wedding ceremonies, but Meiji provides the best opportunity to see one. You can read my full article about the shrine here. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.