I start with the photo I left you with last time - two sets of slippers facing the world together. After the hours of preparation Mark and Yumi walked through the rain to the shrine led by the two temple women. The rain somehow added to the timelessness of the occasion by blurring out the hard edges of the modern world. The scents of damp rich earth with bamboo filled the air on the short walk. The almost unearthly sound of the traditional Japanese music created a movie set like feeling as we arrived to the steps of the shrine. Everything felt familiar but so alien at the same time. Once in the shrine and in our seats Dh and I were left to experience the ceremony only through what we could feel and see. Yumi had explained a few pieces of the ceremony, but not enough for us to truly understand yet the actions were hauntingly similar. The saki drinking between the bride and groom reminded me of receiving the Eucharist during my own wedding. The melodious voice of the priest chanting made me think of hymns in Latin (equally unidentifiable but beautiful none the less). When Mark and Yumi exchanged vows in Japanese the magic truly occurred for me as the love they both share shined forth as Mark garbled his way through and Yumi valiantly tried to fight back the laughter. I can't explain how this more than any other part radiated their love for each other. The exchange of ring was/is universal.
Once the solemnity of the marriage was complete then the official photos began and sound of the rain falling, the tour guide chatting outside, and the sweet smell of damp wood penetrated the bubble of serenity. The photographer trying to place everyone exactly made me laugh and forget for a moment about what was to come - the wedding feast. I had faced raw chicken and survived but would the wedding feast defeat me???