(The Japanese Wedding Industry blog article can be seen here:
Kumano is a picturesque city in the southern part of Mie, facing the ocean, with beautiful rolling hills and mountain ranges in the background. It has a population of just over 18,000 people.
My wife, Mandy and I live in a rural mountain village in Matsusaka, also in Mie Prefecture. Our Japanese friends who live next door to us had been our neighbors for about six years. When they first moved in, they lived separately in the two neighboring apartments and didn’t know each other.
They both worked at different schools, and my wife worked at both schools as an English teacher and so we gradually got to know them a little better. His hometown was in Kumano, and she was from the nearby city of Owase. (http://www.city.owase.lg.jp/public/sougou_top/index_sou.html)
One morning, approximately a year later, we noticed that his shoes were outside her apartment. This happened more and more often, and about two years after they had moved in it was obvious that this had become a permanent arrangement. They offered to let us use space in his unused apartment in exchange for allowing them to use our internet signal. It was about this time that we struck up a friendship.
Last year, we celebrated their engagement and not long afterwards they asked me to conduct their wedding for them. They wished to hold a Christian wedding ceremony in Kumano. I was a little surprised, but I also felt greatly honoured to be asked to do this for them. They knew of course that I conducted Christian weddings on the weekend at a large wedding chapel in Matsusaka city. They also thought that it would be much more personal having a wedding celebrant that they knew rather than a stranger.
On October the 9th, we all traveled to Kumano again, and stayed in a seaside hotel there overnight. Early the next morning, after a light breakfast (as I cannot eat much before conducting a wedding), we made our way to the Kumano Club and prepared for the actual wedding. At precisely 11:00 am, it began. I escorted the groom out into the centre of the outdoor ‘deck’ area, and proceeded onto the podium set up at the front. I turned around to face the groom, and behind him, the family and friends that had gathered together for this special occasion.
One can’t stay at a Japanese resort without experiencing the hot Japanese baths, referred to as either ‘onsen’ (for indoor baths) or ‘rotenburo’ (for outdoor hot springs). Sitting in the ‘rotenburo’ while gazing out at moonlit mountains is a wonderful feeling. I enjoyed some Japanese beer afterwards, and as we talked we reflected on the day’s events. Both of us slept very well that night.
It was a truly memorable wedding and reception, and we could not help smiling on the drive back to Matsusaka as we recalled all the highlights.