Bugaku & Traditional Weddings at Meiji Shrine


The start of Golden Week for us – and a new life for many.

Today was the first day of Golden Week, a cluster of National Holidays in Japan where many workers get around a week off work. You really couldn’t have asked for better weather – the sun was splitting the trees – and so I headed down to Meiji Shrine for the start of the Spring Festival. Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. It’s an amazingly tranquil place, especially since it is right bang in the middle of Harajuku. It’s also only about ten minutes on a train from my station, so very easy for me to get to.

Today’s festivities centred around bugaku – a traditional form of dance that has been performed to select elites, mostly in Japanese imperial courts, for over twelve hundred years. The dance is marked by its slow, precise and regal movements – as well as the piercing sound of the accompanying Japanese flutes. The dancers wear intricate traditional Buddhist costumes, and are encouraged to dance like a tree swaying in a cool breeze.

By coincidence, many people decide to get married on the first day of Golden Week. And so, with the dancers forming a backdrop, many wedding processions made their way slowly through the shrine. On simple days such as today I feel very lucky to live here.


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  1. Pingback: Golden Week a cluster of holidays from late April to early May | From guestwriters

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