Our day began with a walk across the road to the Tokyo City Government building where we went to the observation deck on the 45th floor. It was a bright sunny day after the two previous days of rain. It was so clear that on the horizon we could see Mt Fuji and we thought that this a very good omen for the day.
Afterwards, we went for a walk around Shinjuku Park. There were a lot of homeless people living under blue plastic tarpaulins. This is an ongoing sign of just how flat the Japanese economy really is. Most companies provide housing for their employees and when your job goes, so does your accommodation. We found a young couple being photographed for their wedding day at a little temple and I was able to gently ‘muscle in’ and take a couple of photos of them in their traditional dress. It was very different from Yuki and David’s western dress and suit.
We were back at the hotel and dressed and ready to leave for David & Yuki’s wedding just after 3.00 pm. Our 15 minute trip in a perfectly clean and totally reliable taxi took about 15 minutes and cost about $25. Their wedding was at a very picturesque restaurant named ‘Aso’ and while it operated as a restaurant at the front, it had a very nice reception area at the rear.
David and Yuki had been married in a civil ceremony some time ago so that they were eligible to put in an application for a spouse visa for Yuki at the Australian embassy. This event was really a party to celebrate their wedding, rather than it being an act of marriage in itself.
We were greeted at the restaurant very warmly and taken upstairs to a special waiting room for the relatives. I went downstairs at one time to take a photo of the front of the restaurant and found that all of the friends were gathering in a room downstairs. I popped in to say hello to David’s host family and some of the his friends that I had met at Shifa’s house on Saturday.
The ceremony began after we were all ushered into an open atrium with seating for perhaps 100 people. It was a very pleasant setting with dappled sunlight coming in through the trees and a garden of very colorful flowers at the entrance. Jill and I were ushered to two seats in the front row and Yuki’ parents sat opposite us on the other side of the aisle. David and Yuki entered from the rear after David had first presented Yuki with her bouquet and Yuki had taken out one of the flowers for his button hole. Yuki wore a cream ‘off the shoulder’ dress with a veil.
Once they reached the front of the atrium, the MC (Miki) worked through the steps of the ceremony – presentation of the bride and groom, a reading in English by Eriko, David’s host sister and then again in Japanes by one of Yuki’s friends. The ceremony continued with the exchange of rings, vows and then the signing of a commemorative certificate.
We had a short time for photos before the reception started. We were then seated at the same table as the Takemoto family (David’s host parents) but they soon swapped places with their children Eriko and Masashi who could explain what was taking place to us in English.
The wedding dinner was a four course meal and it was excellent. First, we had a tasting plate of five variations including smoked salmon, ricotta cheese and a delicious little shot glass of soup. This was followed by an entrée of spaghetti with a cheese sauce, which unfortunately resulted in me getting a couple of spots on my new tie, and then a main course of roast pork. Finally, we had a desert buffet which included the wedding cake that David and Yuki had ceremoniously cut before it was served. This was a great idea as it gave us a chance to walk around and talk to other guests.
During the dinner, a number of people gave short speeches. These included Gemma, from David’s firm, who introduced them to each other, Phil who was David’s best man, a high school friend of Yuki’s and myself.
Finally, David gave a thank you and farewell speech after which all the guests lined up to say goodnight and left for home. Some of them, David’s host family for example, had a four hour trip back to Nara and needed to catch the last Bullet Train at 9.30 pm.
This wedding was different in many ways. It had quite a western flavour compared to more traditional Japanese weddings. In comparison to our weddings in Australia, it was different in that the guests bought money (which mostly paid for the wedding reception) and the bride and groom gave gifts to the guests. in addition to this, David and Yuki had to have envelopes of fresh bank notes to give to people who had travelled for long distances to pay for their travel.
While all the Japanese went home at the formal conclusion time of 8:15 pm, we joined David’s friends for a drink in the bar. We left later and were back at our hotel by about 10:30 pm.