Weddings in Kyoto

June 29, 2015

by Momoko Sonoda & Haruna Sugimoto

There are many traditional and modern places to get married and have receptions in Kyoto. There are also many famous mountains surrounding Kyoto. When people hold a wedding, they can often get a full view of the beautiful mountains. Moreover, not only many Japanese people, but also foreigners hold a weddings in Kyoto because it is the home of traditional Japanese culture.

Weddings in Kyoto

When people get married in Kyoto, they often have their ceremony at one of the many hundreds of beautiful shrines and temples throughout the city. They are known as Shinto weddings (at shrines) and Buddhist weddings (at temples). The famous Heian Shrine, established in 1895, is one of the most popular wedding places in Kyoto these days. The Heian Shrine is very rich in nature and is centrally located. There is a gigantic Shinto gate (torii) in front of the Heian Shrine, which is 24 meters high. Many couples are having happy Shinto wedding ceremonies there. This gives their wedding a traditional flavor.


On the other hand, the famous Kodaiji Temple is a popular spot for Buddhist weddings. Kodaiji Temple was established in 1606 during the Momoyama period. It is located in Higashiyama Ward, on the east side of Kyoto. When people have a wedding there, the bride and groom can get access to a special garden that is as old as the temple itself. The garden is quiet, and there are many beautifully arranged stones there. Moreover, Kodaiji is also attractive for its perfectly white sand.

Modern Weddings

These days, however, traditional weddings are mixed with the modern. A typical wedding in Kyoto begins with the bride wearing a white wedding dress at a ceremony done in a Christian-style at a chapel. For this reason, the number of Shinto-style weddings has been declining more and more. In addition, more and more people are longing for foreign-style weddings, so Japanese wedding event locations are trying their best to meet the needs of customers by offering Western-style weddings. As a result, Japanese-style weddings are in less demand, especially as many younger people are not as interested in religion or tradition. Ironically, Christian-style weddings are now more popular than Shinto or Buddhist weddings in traditional Kyoto.

The Kyoto Hotel Okura

To give an example of the kind of place at which many couples are these days are having their weddings in Kyoto, all we need to do is take a look at the Kyoto Hotel Okura. The Kyoto Hotel Okura was established in 1888, giving it a 120-year history. It is situated in the center of the Kyoto, near the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae subway station, making it easy to access. The hotel was renovated in 2008 with a new design to convey calmness and peacefulness. Also, the Okura Hotel is as one of the tallest buildings in Kyoto, so from the top floor we can see the surrounding landscape with its panoramic mountains and unique allure of exotic Kyoto.

The Kyoto Hotel Okura is attractive in several ways. First, this hotel took the lead in hotel weddings, since it has been around since the Meiji era. Also it was one of the first to succeed in adopting Western style weddings. Weddings at the Okura are loved by many people. This is because employee training is perfect and the employee says, “We learned hospitality from this long historical hotel.” Also, there great atmosphere in the big and spacious lobby. It makes us relax. Even though the hotel was renovated in 2008, its lobby did not change, so it retained its traditional feel. Kyoto Hotel Okura has many reception halls.

The first hall name is Gyoun (暁雲). This large banquet room expresses the quality of Kyoto very well. The room has big window, where people can get a full view of the traditional Higashiyama area of Kyoto city. The name of the second hall is Suiun (翠雲). The hall suggests an ocean, where guests get the feeling that they are on a sea voyage. The name of the third hall is Kongo (金剛). This is the hall where a jewel falls from the sky. The hall has relaxed atmosphere, where guests can enjoy to holding wedding ceremonies. The name of the last hall is Aoiden (葵殿).

Shinto Wedding Room

If people still want to hold a Shinto-style wedding , they can use this hall. This hall contains a god from Kyoto’s well-known Shimogamo shrine, which is famous for the god of match-making. Many people see it as the god of marriage. In 1987 part of the villa called “Awata sanso” which was built by Orimoto as his second residence. There are luxurious gate and big garden. Furthermore, there is a tea-ceremony room like Kyoto.

As you can see, the Kyoto Hotel Okura represents a typical wedding spot, mixing traditional and modern elements. There are many such wedding facilities in Kyoto, so we believe that couples should consider Kyoto as a wedding destination. Kyoto-style weddings present a great opportunity to experience Kyoto while tying the knot.

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