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Taken in the town of Uji, while visiting the Ujigami shrine, one of the two local UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Uji is a city on the southern outskirts of the city of Kyoto. Founded in 1951, Uji is located between the two ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto. The city sits on the Uji River, which has its source in Lake Biwa. Uji has an estimated population of 193,020 and is the second largest city in Kyoto prefecture.
Ujigami shrine is considered to be the oldest original Shinto shrine architecture built around 1060. Combined with the adjacent Uji Shrine, it had been called Rikukamisha until the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
A Shinto wedding ceremony is presided by a Shinto priest in the sanctuary of the shrine. It is witnessed only by family members, close relatives and the nakoudo. The ceremony starts with a purification ritual for all present, using a special branch called narai-gushi. After this, he invokes on the gods to bestow their blessings on the couple.
The bride wears an exquisite kimono called shiro-maku, made of snowy white silk. Her hair is swept up in a traditional style and held with combs and ornaments called kanzashi. Her face is painted a creamy white. Lastly, she wears on her head a white hood called tsuno-kakushi, which literally means “hiding the horns”. This hood symbolizes her faithfulness and obedience to her husband. The groom wears a montsuki kimono with a short haori overcoat with the family crest and hakama pants.
Leading the group on the photo are the miko.
The miko tradition dates back to the ancient eras of Japan. In ancient times, women who went into trances and conveyed prophecy or the words of the gods were called miko. Later, miko were young female attendants at Shinto shrines. They were often the daughter(s) of the priest who presided over a given shrine. Roles of the miko included performing in ceremonial dances (miko-mai) and assisting priests in various ceremonies, especially weddings. The tradition continues and today miko can be found at many Shinto shrines. In modern times most miko are part-time employees or volunteers. Their duties include assisting with shrine functions, performing ceremonial dances, offering Omikuji (a type of fortune telling), and staffing shrine shops.

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Additional Photos by Attila Szili (atus) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2069 W: 207 N: 4541] (15878)
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