Tuesday, April 1, 2008

East Meets West

Have you ever wondered where, exactly, east stops being east and becomes west? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, East Meets West was surely the theme for the wedding reception we went to this weekend. First of all, check out the bride and groom:

Wow, huh? I can't imagine wearing something like that...I know it's heavy because it's layers upon layers upon layers, especially the bride's formal kimono. She had to take teeny tiny steps, not even the length of her foot, to move around at all in that outfit. And as I told Lee, just because an entire nation wears socks with sandals that doesn't mean he's allowed to. Anyway, I was also impressed with the bride's hairdo...it reminds me of all the super-fancy coiffures on the miniseries Shogun with Richard Chamberlain (he did not have a super-fancy coiffure, he had a beard). Those are gold combs in her hair and each one has beads that dangle from it.

This was a really, really, *really* fancy wedding reception. I don't even know how many courses there were to dinner, but I can tell you that most of them were fish. That's a bad thing for me since I absolutely do not eat seafood. The shrimp were staring at me! Seriously, they had *eyes* on them!! Well anyway, I know from longstanding experience that my dislike of all things seafood is seen by others as just plain weird, but I don't like the way fish smells so I won't eat it. Lee can eat all he wants of it as long as it's downwind :)

Since half the guests were Japanese and half American, they had a bilingual emcee who had to say everything twice, once in each language. I guess that it takes roughly twice as long to say something in Japanese as it does to say it in English :) She did a good job though, that's the first time I've ever seen a Japanese woman with blond hair. They had all the usual things like toasts and things like that, but there were a few differences. Instead of a bouquet toss, they had a bouquet PULL...there were ribbons wrapped around the handle of the bride's bouquet, so each eligible young maiden picked a ribbon and when they all had one, they each pulled. Only one ribbon was actually attached to the bouquet, so the owner of that ribbon got the bouquet. The garter toss was funny, I gather that is NOT a Japanese tradition as all the young Japanese men seemed rather confused at the whole idea. At least one of them actually did grab it, although he didn't have much choice since it thudded right into his chest. Somewhere along the way, my brother got the idea that it was bad luck at a wedding if the garter hit the floor instead of someone catching it, but of course none of the guys actually *wants* to catch it...I think Adam got the garter at least four or five times, sometimes with an impressive dive and slide across the floor. Hehe!

To get back to *this* wedding, they had some entertainment as well. The bride's sister and daughter performed a traditional dance for good luck and longevity, both wearing kimonos although not as fancy as the bride's was. Do you remember Kimiko on Karate Kid II and the dance she taught Daniel-san? Yeah, this was kind of like that, fan and everything. Then they had a drum troupe perform and that was totally *amazing*. They had music and the drum troupe added to it with their own hand-held drums as they danced in red, gold, and black costumes. For their second number, they had a DRAGON!

Here's the dragon right in front of me, I wish we had gotten a better picture but this one was the best out of a half a dozen. There were two people in the dragon costume and how they coordinated their movements so well together is just beyond me, because they were dancing and leaping and all kinds of crazy stuff. They did come out into the audience and wind their way among the tables, and one time even "bit" one of the guests.

These larger drums were set up to one side of the stage; they're covered in a teal silk with a dragon pattern on it. Most of the performers had smaller hand drums that they carried with them and danced with.

And here they are dancing! :) They were an awesome group, I'd love to see them perform again only this time I'd like to be up closer so I could see everything that was going on. This might sound odd to say, but it reminded me of bellydancing, with all the highly percussive music. Yes, I used to be a bellydancer, I need to get back into lessons, it was loads of fun. But I digress!

Towards the end, they invited everyone up to dance, I got this picture of two of the guests in their kimonos. Aren't they gorgeous? They have photography studios around here that have costumes, and they'll take your picture in "traditional Japanese clothing" like this; Lee and I are so totally going to have to do that while we're here. I doubt I'll ever own a kimono; the fancy ones are thousands and thousands of dollars. But they are gorgeous...however, they are totally different from Western garb in that one of the main objectives is to disguise the feminine form. The Japanese are a highly modest culture; you can see that the sash pretty much conceals all hint of what the woman's figure looks like and there's an ornate tie on the back to further disguise the silhouette.

At one point, the emcee told everyone to form a line and go decorate the wedding cake...I didn't do the cake decorating, but it looked like they were putting on strawberries and chocolate pieces and such. The bride and groom did the cake-cutting thing and I didn't realize until later that they were the only ones who actually ate any wedding cake. They served dessert as part of the meal (and no, the dessert was not fish) but it wasn't wedding cake. That just seemed kind of funny to me, to decorate the cake and then not eat it. But hey, what do I know?


Allison said...

A neat slice of life!

CCsMom said...

How GORGEOUS! And Captain Kirk looks A LOT like your brother, Adam! Ha! You are diving into the culture a lot quicker than your dad and I did -- GOOD FOR YOU! It IS fascinating. LOVED the story. So that dragon didn't scare you? It would have a few years ago . . . !!! Love ya!

Julia Aston said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures - I work at a hospital in Chinatown in Boston, MA and they put on a dragon dance here in the Atrium at the Chinese New Year and some other special occasions and its quite something! What a fun experience for you - hope you got something else to nibble on while you were there!