As predicted I did crash, at about 8:30pm, but that was only after a very long day.
Me, Mum and Tech Support were picked up at around 9:30am by That Girl's Father and the Old Friend. We then went to pick up the Fiance's family. And drove the 40 minutes it took to get to Nagoya and the location of the wedding, Atsuta Shrine.
There we waited around as members of That Girl's family slowly showed up. I knew a few of them from previous trips to Japan, or their trips to America. Finally the groom showed up.
None of our pictures of the groom inside turned out great (there will be better outside pictures posted later) but as you can see, other people were taking pictures too.
Then, the bride joined us.
Then as a procession we walked outside to the outdoor shrine to pray for the bride and groom. Apparently May 27th is a good day to get married, and so their were many other wedding processions. The people at the shrine moved us around like clockwork, timing it so each one moved to the next section as the last one was leaving. Mum likened it to Disneyland.
The Shinto Priest (brief lesson for Those Not In The Know, Japanese use Buddhism to deal with death, thus, no one ever gets married in a buddhist temple, always at a Shinto shrine) led us from location to location, speaking to the couple and brandishing a tree branch that had some sort of significance.
Then, more photo ops.
The Bride and the Groom in full regalia.
The Bride and the Groom and their parents.
The entire party, sans Tech Support and maybe one or two other picture taker.
After that we went back to the lobby of the main modern building and sat down to wait for the actual ceremony. There was a general assumption by the staff of the Shrine that as white people my crew and the Old Friend belonged with the Groom's party that I admit to resenting a bit. But as he only had 3 memembers of his family there and the Bride had at least 10, it did even the sides out a bit more.
Inside the actual ceremony we were not allowed to take pictures. Let me be brutally honest here, I find wedding ceremonies in general quite dull, whether or not I understand the language. People talk, and talk, and I stiffle my yawns. In this case great ceremony was made of watching the bride and groom drink very small sips of sake, and it took a long time. The most interesting part to me was when they played some very loud, sharp sounding instruments while two women in red and white Shinto dress stepped from side rooms and did an eleborate little dance with the tree branches.
The groom did a good job at plodding through a long speech about marriage and the home, at which point the bride gets off easy and only has to say "I am wife" and we all drank the sake.
After that there was more sitting and waiting before the reception, and more photos. The Bride now had less on her head.
After that was the reception. And I'll admit, here I finally teared up just a tiny bit, when the bride and groom entered with music playing. Stupid music. The rest of the reception was not tear worthy as it involved another plethora of strange Japanese food, emberassing dart games, and a little more Karaoke. Tech Support did a rather stunning rendition of "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You". The Grooms parents went up and sang as well.
Everytime they offered him a drink, Tech Support accepted. At the time of this picture he had Whiskey, Champagne, Beer and Sake, later he would get more.
At the reception people loosened up, and people began to bond despite the language barrier. The Grooms brother bonded with the Brides Uncles over copious alcohol consumption. My Mum bonded with a family friend and the Brides Aunt in tears over the absence of the Bride's mother. And the Grooms parents even tried the raw fish.
The reception was like most western receptions, only with the edition of drunken Japanese Uncles who spoke excessively at the microphone about the Bride and her cousins. And adorable little girls in kimonos (the Bride's cousin's kids).
At the end we gathered in the Lobby for a little more conversation and the bride and groom left in a taxi for a wedding night in a hotel (instead of above the bride's father in a house she associates with death). We all said our goodbyes.
In the car conversation flowed more freely - between everyone else. I was tired of talking to people so I dozed on Tech Supports lap.
Back at our hotel we were so tired we mustered just enough energy to go get snacks at a local convenience store. They only had the last riceballs of the day, which wasn't very auspicious, but we took them anyway, along with some crackers and a drink. The riceball wasn't very good, but I thought it was quite edible, though Tech Support made very funny jokes about Gaijin (foreigners) being found dead on the streets of Tokoname.
Let me describe the streets of Tokoname for a moment. No doubt other sections on the town are more populated, but out on the edge, by the ocean, it is quite dead. You only see the occasional person walking their dog, and almost no cars pass by. The ocean and the leaves in the trees feel very loud. I find it very peaceful.
Back at the hotel I did my best to stay up until 11pm, but as stated before, made it only to 9pm.