A Japanese Spring Wedding and the Canadian Family Member

Attending a Japanese Wedding is a rare honor for most foreigners living in Japan. The opportunity shouldn’t be lost on any expatriate fortunate to receive an invitation.  The Wedding I attended last Saturday was a glimpse of Japanese Culture well refined with blended tradition. It met the tastes and trends of modern day Tokyo.  It was my first ever chance to join such an important celebration as a family member.  “What a Blast.”


Every major Japanese Event starts with preparatory research.  Not surprisingly a Japanese Wedding requires proper attire, careful selections of gifts and a punctual arrival.  Simple?  There are a few twists.  My wife is a cousin of the Groom and the sum of our gift of fresh, crisp & new bank notes was determined by a well-defined scale found on the internet. The equation involves the venue, her position as a first cousin to the Groom and the fact that my wife was allowed to bring both her husband and daughter.  

Wedding fashion for men has liberalized as black suits with a white tie standard in 1982 are set aside for stylish morning suits with more modern options for neck wear.  Women have the opportunity to dress suitable to the season and young ladies often chose cocktail dresses flashy enough for an evening in Las Vegas.  Most guests rode the train and were pleased to have access to change rooms at the Wedding “Estate”. We arrived in time for wardrobe and make-up finalization and to participate in obligatory family events. 

There was some trepidation about joining the rituals but my wife’s nuclear family circled around me to prevent any serious & memorable faux pas.  In fact the classy charm of my Wife’s Cousin, her Aunt and Uncle and the staff at the “Q.E.D Wedding Estate” made me feel welcome and comfortable.  (They publicly expressed appreciation for my participation in spite of returning just on time from a business trip to Germany.)  The day started for us in a room set aside for the Groom and his “extended” family members where coffee, tea and soft drinks were served.  When the conversation turned to English to accommodate me I excused myself. (It was the Groom’s Day and shouldn’t be deflected by their foreign guest.) It gave me a chance to explore the venue.

Every couple should be fortunate enough to enjoy a Wedding in a place as convenient and sophisticated as the Q.E.D Estate in Ebisu. This is especially true with the complimentary weather of a beautiful and sunny Spring Day.  The Estate was once home to the Hungarian Embassy in Tokyo.  The building was designed with ecstatically pleasing architecture, plenty of windows and a large garden suitable to wedding ceremonies.  Paintings, antique furniture and an impressive wine cellar were on display.  

Once explored I returned to the “coffee room” where my wife’s Uncle Teruo introduced our entire family to the Bride’s Relatives in detailed and confident fashion by memory. This was reciprocated by the Father of the Groom. We were then taken to the Garden for a Group Photo of “family members” and you won’t have to hire a private detective to find me in the picture.  When finished both families move to the Garden to be seated up front and witness a Christian Wedding.  

Often Japanese Couples elect a pseudo Christian style wedding even when their religious beliefs are more centered around Buddhist and Shinto Practices.  This was the “real thing”.  Eriko and Tsuneto’s Ceremony involved prayer, a reading of Corinthians 13:4-7,  and the hymns titled “Home” and “What a Friend we have in Jesus”.  The Minister reminded me of someone you might see on television on a Sunday Morning in North America but his passion was appreciated by the guests.  He was well supported by a trio of women with beautiful voices contracted to support the vocal efforts of the 100 guests.  It really was nice. Plenty of smiles, tears and eventually laughter when everyone tossed cherry blossom petals like confetti as the new “Man and Wife” walked thru the crowd to end the ceremony and initiate the party.

Previous weddings in Japan required guests to sit thru the first hour of the reception listening to long speeches without the aid of refreshment.  Everyone was handed a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice as they entered the “Banquet Hall”.  The following key note addresses were short and entertaining.  (We’re dealing with an intellectual crowd.  The Groom has a Doctorate in Physics and Graduated from the prestigious Tokyo University.  His Bride has an MBA and is a star at a Fortune 500 company.)  We moved thru to the Toast to the Bride in under 15 minutes and the Sparkling Wine Corks popped marking the beginning of a sumptuous banquet. 


Check out this menu (it was all delicious):
            Caviar with Abalone, Foie-Gras with green asparagus and truffle sauce, Lobster with seasonal vegetables flavored with wine and beet sauce, Iced Sorbet (granite), Filet Mignon and Beef Cheek with Perigueux Sauce.  Each course was complimented by a specific beverage and by the end of the meal everyone was surrounded by glasses of beer, white and red wine.  Add an Excellent piano recital courtesy of The Groom’s Sister and you have a dinner not soon forgotten. It  was all followed by a Dessert Buffet served on the garden lawn in the sunshine.  

 It was a fine setting to complete the day. The Bride and Groom thanked their parents and punctuated their statements with a presentation of flowers. Closing remarks began with speeches by the Fathers of the Bride and Groom. The ceremonies ended with words by the Groom himself who admitted that the Grand Wedding was beyond his expectations and the concept was conceived and executed on behalf of his Bride.  He also stated that he expected to be eternally happy with Eriko. Well done Tsuneto.

There was an underlying sense of humor built into the wedding plan.  The slide show depicting Tsuneto’s impressive career to date ended with his declaration of an ambition to win the Noble Prize and drink away the Award Money.  The Bride and Groom selected up beat music played for effect throughout the banquet and presentations in the Garden.  It included Sting, the Proclaimers, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi and ACDC.  The selection of Sheryl Crow’s Every day is a Winding Road and Stings Every Breath You Take were played in time for emotional entrances and departures. (Tsuneto and Eriko later confirmed that they selected the songs with tongue in cheek.)  Even the young children were rocking (and there were quite a few.)

At every place setting the Bride and Groom left a hand written note for their Guests.  I can remember how incredibly dear time became as I geared up for my own wedding and marvel at this kind gesture.  The two remained at the Estate’s front door to wish a fond good-bye to everyone who attended the wedding and gave each one of us a generous present.  If Eriko and Tsuneto act and care for each other in the same way they treated their friends and relatives at their wedding;  they will have a fine life together indeed.  Good luck to this exciting new couple.  Oh, Tsuneto San,  please remember to give me a call when you Win that Nobel Prize.  (A Million Euros buys a lot of Guinness.)

Q.E.D. Club     http://www.qed.co.jp/english/        

1 comment:

  1. Loving the different ways of celebrating weddings. I went for annual function of my daughter at one of spacious Seattle venues last month. Really impressed with lavish arrangements made by the event planner. Each and everything was unique.