Meiji Shrine Weddings are perfect for your ultimate Tokyo Photos

Meiji Shrine weddings attract big crowds. They are one reason why some visitors go there. These Shinto events are very colorful and traditional. People find them very attractive. They are something instantly recognizably Japanese.

When are the Meiji Shrine weddings?

Before visiting the shrine to see one, you should look online for a special Japanese calendar. You need the type that shows Rokyuo, the days of good or bad fortune days. Click here to see one. 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 throughout the day. Everyone loves good fortune. Don’t you?

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.

There will be fewer of them during the hottest and coldest months for obvious reasons. Summer is a terrible time for these events as they are formal. No one likes to spend an afternoon in hot clothes, slowly getting drenched in sweat.

How would I describe a Meiji Shrine wedding procession?

They are very solemn.  Meiji Shrine weddings usually have two priests leading 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 photographing a marriage procession, getting lost in the moment is easy. It’s possible to forget where you are trying to get a good picture as the bridal couple pass. Avoid creeping forward, trying to get that perfect picture. 

Some people move too far forward and enter the procession path. It’s 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.

Recommended lenses for photographing Meiji Shrine weddings

Anything will work. With longer lenses, you’ll be able to work on headshots. But with shorter lenses, you’ll be able to work in more of the background. My favorite for this place is the Fujifilm 55- 200 mm lens. It’s a nice compromise. Of course, you could take more than one lens!

Wrapping up

Meiji Shrine weddings are great opportunities to see these traditional events up close. The brides’ kimonos are beautiful, and some must cost a fortune. If you’re lucky, some couples appear again with a photographer to take photos around the shrine. That might give you another chance to get a few more snaps.

Many shrines around Tokyo offer wedding ceremonies, but Meiji is the best place to see one. You can read my full article about the shrine here.

External website about Meiji Shrine weddings

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