Shinto Religion Lies at Heart of Wedding Ceremony

Article excerpt

THE wedding ceremony for Crown Prince Naruhito and Masako Owada will take place in the most sacred and secret spot in the imperial palace, which lies in the heart of Tokyo.

The two will enter a Shinto shrine, built in 1888, called kashikodokoro, which is home to the mythical Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami. The goddess is symbolized by a replica of the divine mirror said to have been given to the first emperor more than 1,500 years ago.

The ceremony, based on ancient records, will start early in the morning with offerings to the gods and prayers by a chief priest as music is played from ancient instruments. Then, under the gaze of ladies-in-waiting, the princess-to-be will walk in slow measured steps down a gallery to the inner sanctuaries.

She will wear a multicolored, 12-layer costume known as a juni-hitoe, which takes a long time to put on and requires two train-bearers. The crown prince will wear formal dress in bright orange, a color symbolizing the rising sun. …

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