Japanese couples are showing increasing interest in holding Shinto-style wedding ceremonies at shrines in the Sanin region in light of the recent marriage of an imperial family princess, according to wedding-related companies.
The announcement of Princess Noriko’s engagement to the son of a Shinto priest on May 27 prompted the number of daily visitors to the website of Yonago-based Smile Cube to surge to about 180, about 2.4 times the usual number.
The website, titled “shinwakon” (myth wedding), promotes ceremonies at venerable shrines in the Sanin region, including Izumo Taisha shrine, the site of the Oct. 5 wedding between Noriko, the 26-year-old second daughter of the late Prince Takamado, and Kunimaro Senge, a 41-year-old senior priest at the Izumo Taisha grand shrine in Shimane Prefecture.
Since February 2013, Smile Cube has held wedding-experience events once a month in Tokyo and Osaka. Would-be brides can try on costumes of their choice and consult advisers from the company. The events also introduce 13 shrines in Shimane and Tottori prefectures as candidate wedding venues.
An official of Smile Cube said 50 couples from outside Shimane and Tottori prefectures held their nuptials at those shrines between April 2013 and September 2014. About half of the couples had no direct connections, such as relatives, to the two prefectures.
Couples usually choose a package that includes a three-day, two-night trip for around 15 people invited by the bride and groom.
Izumo Taisha shrine, one of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines, underwent major renovations last year. Ceremonies were held for the work, including the temporary relocation of the deity.
The shrine is also believed to bring power to those who worship there.
“The Izumo Taisha shrine’s relocation of the enshrined deity to a renovated shrine and the ‘power spots’ boom have brought much attention to shrines in the Sanin region and increased people’s plans to hold their ceremonies there,” said Maki Tatano, a 29-year-old project manager of Smile Cube.
Linden, a bridal service business in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, said it has also seen a gradual rise in shrine weddings. The company introduced a Shinto-style wedding package seven years ago.
“As people increasingly marry later in life, they tend to prefer low-key, Japanese-style weddings over resplendent ones,” said Hisashi Kodake, 44, president of Linden.