Friday, October 21, 2011

Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki May 9, 1996 Wedding Bells

Did you have a good Golden Week vacation? I went to Nagoya to attend a friend's wedding.  I was looking forward to it because I had heard that Nagoya's wedding ceremonies were lavish. The bride changed clothes five times and the groom changed four times. The groom was an American, so the reception had a very international flavor to it.

In Japan the custom is to give money as a wedding present. However, in America in general we don't do this. Of course, it depends on the person, but many people give hand-made presents or something that would have special commemorative value. Also, for people who must come  a long way to attend the ceremony and reception, their presence itself is considered a heart-warming gift.

And in America, the bride and groom do not give away gifts to their guests. In my case, we held a wedding ceremony in America as well as in Japan, so I wanted to mix the customs between the US and Japan. We took lacquered trays with us from Miyazaki to give out as gifts. When we handed them out at the reception, our guests were surprised by the gesture. And then to our surprise, many people tore the wrapping paper off right there to look inside. Many people said, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" and were happy to get it. This was an obvious cultural difference, don't you think?

This was written to a Japanese audience, so if you're not a Japanese person reading this you're probably thinking, "What the....?"
1. In Japanese weddings the man and woman change clothes atleast twice; usually more. The woman starts in white kimono then changes to a colorful version while her new husband remains in his black or gray kimono. Then they both change into "western" wedding clothes: a gown and a tuxedo. The woman may change again into another cocktail dress.
2. Nagoya is famous in Japan for having even MORE lavish ceremonies than I just described. In fact, my friend's ceremony was wildly extravagent. I could not have imagined being the co-star of such a ceremony!
3. At Japanese ceremonies each guest is given a present from the bride and groom. We gave out colorful stove-top kettles, for example. Other gifts I have seen or received over the years include hot water pots, lacquered trays, boxes of food, and glassware.
4. No Japanese person would be caught dead opening up these gifts infront of the bride and groom or their families. It just isn't done. The fact that guests at our US wedding actually did this shocked my wife and Japanese friends, which is why I wrote about it here.

This is the first time I used the sign-off "See you next time!" I remember my editor and I argued about whether people would be able to understand it; I figured they would NOT, but she over-ruled me. We used it for the rest of my run.

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