David Chart's Japan Diary

November 7th 2006

I'm a bit busy with work at the moment, as I got given a rush job to do about a week ago. It's more-or-less on schedule at the moment, so I have a bit of time to write up a little more about the various things that have been happening, some of them quite a long time ago.

So, first, going back to just before the wedding. As long-term readers of this diary know, while I wasn't living in or near Tokyo, I used to stay at Sawanoya whenever I came here. This was also where we stayed in Tokyo when my family came to visit while I was still studying. Since Sawanoya is pretty close to Yushima Tenjin, I decided to book my whole family in there for the wedding as well. (As it happened, this wasn't actually very convenient given the final arrangements, but at least they got to stay somewhere nice that they knew.)

Dad and Joy got themselves to the ryokan, but I met Mum, Ray, and Silver at the Keio Ueno station, and went with them. When we arrived, Sawa-san asked me why all my family was over, so I told him it was for my wedding.

Lion Dance The Lion Dance in progress.

The next day when I arrived, he asked if we had any plans for the Friday evening. As it happened, we didn't, and he said that his son would do the traditional Lion Dance for us.

The dance he performed is a celebration and congratulations dance, traditional for weddings. First, the lion shows off her energy (the lion is female), and eats an orange. That's entertaining, because she swallows an orange, and then spits out the peel. Then she sleeps and dreams, before cleaning herself as cats do, and attacking the audience.

Well, not exactly. The mask's jaw is articulated, and it is good luck to have it bite at your head; it eats all the bas luck, or something like that. After biting people, the lion also coughed up a small bell. Most people got a very simple bell on a purple cord, but I got one with two small metal turtles, one golden and one silver-coloured. The turtle is a traditional good luck sign, like the crane, and thus two turtles are very appropriate for a wedding. Afterwards, Yuriko and I were given little "good fortune" bells as well, and all the bells are currently hanging up in our living room.

The Sawanoya Family Yuriko and me, with Sawa-san, his wife, and his son, who is holding the lion mask.

The dance was very entertaining and lively, and it was certainly a special experience to have it done for our wedding. Fortunately, Yuriko was able to get to Sawanoya as well, so she could see it. The dance is actually mentioned in the description of the ryokan in the Frommers guide, but I'd never seen it, although the mask is on display most of the time. Talking to the younger Sawa-san afterwards, he said that it was quite a while (some years) since he'd last done the dance, so it's obviously reserved for special occasions these days. Fortunately, there were quite a lot of other guests around at the time, as groups checked in and picked up their luggage to leave, so there was a good audience.

It's a shame, but that was possibly the last time I'll use Sawanoya. Obviously, now that I live here I don't need to stay there, and we can accommodate two family members in our flat, so we don't generally need extra space for them. Still, it was a great send-off. I highly recommend it if you're looking for somewhere to stay in Tokyo.

Three kimonos Mum, Silver, and Yuriko's mother in their kimonos.

Coming back to the wedding, I mentioned that all of my family wore kimonos. As Silver is still unmarried, she got to wear furisode, and her kimono was quite spectacular. Mum's was also very nice, and I can understand why they wanted to keep them on as long as possible. After all, it's not like they'll get lots of other opportunities to wear them.

Silver's kimono Silver's kimono from the back.

Silver has also said that I can put a bit of the music she wrote for the wedding online. This is the music for the entrance of the bride and groom, which is about two minutes long. Unlike most of the material here, it's copyright Silver, not me. I think it's very nice, although I may be slightly biased, and it's a good opening to the suite of music that she put together. There's about twenty minutes in total, and there's a common theme running through it, while the instrumentation was chosen according to Yuriko's and my preferences. Customised wedding music; can't beat it.

So, that's a bit more filled in about the wedding and surrounding events. As I mentioned, work is a bit busy, and I'm also in the process of applying to extend my visa. I've been to immigration to pick up the necessary forms and the list of needed documentation, and yesterday I went to the Ward Office to pick up one bit. It looks fairly simple this time; I just need to prove that we are still married, still living together, and that someone connected to us is working and can support us (me, in this case). I suppose there's a lot less risk of a marriage being a fake created purely for the visa if it's lasted a year, meaning that they don't need to gather quite so much information. It certainly makes my life a bit easier.

There are still things to report, but I think I should do a bit more work now, so that will have to be it for this entry.