Sunday, 25 October 2009

News from Kyoto

Here's a photograph of Mini and Leo in their formal Japanese wedding garb, attended by the two "miko", sort of supercharged altar servers, at their Shinto ceremony on Friday last, performed in the romantic surroundings of a hotel on the outskirts of Kyoto, by a wide river, overlooked by mountains and set in beautiful gardens.

Suffice to say, the marriage celebration day went brilliantly, with Mini looking amazing in her kimono, and many of her friends having made a similar effort to dress traditionally, because of the English connection. (In the same way, Caroline will take all her foreign students to see round Gloucester Cathedral, though in the normal course of things we would never darken its doors.) Leo must have posed quite a problem to his team of dressers, but he looked very splendid in his long skirt made of much the same material as a pair of wedding trousers at home, and his white socks and flip-flops.

So, on the one hand we had the strangest ritual for the couple, with just family present, seated either side of a small chapel-like room in the hotel, the shrine at the end, the priest wearing a hat which was a cross between a bishop's mitre and a space helmet and shiny black plastic clogs on his feet; and on the other hand the largest barrage of digital cameras you have seen, flashing endlessly at the couple when they emerged in front of the other guests: Leo, not the easiest person to get to sit for his photograph, lapped it all up, and Mini looked completely unfazed too, though they must each have been in a state of exhaustion by the end of the day. I certainly was; but it was a sensationally happy one for us all, and it was warm and sunny!

For me, the most moving moment came when Leo and Mini had departed during the ceremonial lunch; and then returned into a darkened room, filled with the sound of Imogen Cooper's Mozart, dressed in their Painswick wedding outfits (almost) - before, a very Japanese couple, and now an English one!

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