Of weddings, clouds, and statues

24 07 2009

A couple of  weekends ago (see, I’m already behind…) I was invited to a friend’s second wedding party in Yokohama.

I find Japanese weddings to be very different to what weddings I have attended in Australia. Firstly, in Japan they hold a number of parties. The actual legal wedding occurs at your local ward office, and is really just like going to sign the document. Then you have wedding parties.

Most couples have at least 2 wedding parties. The first being a wedding ceremony and formal reception. The second party is more like a reception, but the couple would have had a “costume” change, and more guests would be invited. The guests have to pay for the party, around the order of ¥5000 or upwards, but this will probably include food and drink. It’s also probable that there will be some sort of game either to get to know the other guests or for prizes. These 2nd parties only last about 2 hours, and then afterwards guests will either head off to the next party, an after party, or home.

Oh, and did I mention, its also customary for guests to wear black or dark colours to a wedding in Japan???  Particularly if you go to the first party.

All in all it must be an exhausting day for the couple, with sooo many events to attend. Personally I do prefer the western style of ceremony and one reception, just seems a whole lot easier to me, because Japanese weddings are such a big production!

Anyway, the party I attended a few weekends ago was a lot of fun, and it was good to see a lot of my old colleagues. Because it was in Yokohama I opted to stay there overnight, it’s about an hour and a half from where I live, and then the following day went out further to Hakone to enjoy some hiking and onsen.

Mikas Wedding Party in Yokohama

Mika's Wedding Party in Yokohama

Alas my Hakone plans were a bit too ambitious for someone who was out late the night before, not to mention the weather wasn’t agreeable either.  Hakone, being in the mountains, is often in the clouds.  On a good day you can see Mt Fuji from Lake Ashi.

Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji

Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji

And on a bad day, well, you can’t see much at all…

Lake Ashi in cloud

Lake Ashi in cloud

On the Monday I wanted to do an 11km walk around Lake Ashi, and then hike back down the mountains to Hakone-Yumoto. I did start the walk around Lake Ashi, but about a third if the way around clouds set in and I decided it was best to turn back. So instead I headed back to my hotel, B&B Pension Hakone. My hotel was a very pleasant surprise, very cheap, but included breakfast and a discount ticket to a nearby onsen (Mori no Yu, part of Yunessun). So that evening I rested my sore muscles in the hot spring.

The next day my plan was to hike from Gora station to Tsukahara station before heading home. But again my exhaustion got the better of me (in the end I did walk over 20km in the two days) and I went to the Hakone Open Air Museum instead.

The museum was very interesting. I had been meaning to go there for a long time and I’m happy to have been now. It’s a museum dedicated to displaying statues outdoors. But for me it was very interesting to learn my own tastes in sculpture. It seems I tend towards shiny things and the human form. And not abstract sculptures, which surprised me because I tend towards more modern artwork.

Anyway, I didn’t take many photos, becuase the signs all said no photos.  But then walking about I saw many people using cameras, so here’s a couple of the sculptures I liked –

Shiny Ball thingy

Shiny Ball thingy

Disembodied Head

Disembodied Head

By the way, for anyone interested in hiking in Hakone, this site is a great resource if you don’t mind wading through the Japanese on their maps – Hakone-Zenzan.  The hikes I was planning to do were #1, #4 (which doesn’t have a map, but from Hakone Machi just keep following the closest road to the lake going left, and you cant miss the trail head), and something in the area of #18. I used the Mapple Hakone hiking map to plan my hikes.  (One day when I actually do the hikes, I’ll do a proper write up…)


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