Yomeiri-Fune – Wedding Ships Set Sail in Japan

Jun 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Events, Tokyo and Vicinity

June is for brides – it’s a common saying in the west that is also applicable in Japan but not in the way you might think.  Every June with the blooming of the irises the tradition of Yomeiri-Fune, also know as marriage boats or wedding ships, take to the waters in Japan.

It is a traditional that was almost lost, according to The Japan Times, but has been revived for all to witness in Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures, part of the Kanto region of Japan .

A bride, in a traditional white bridal kimono is accompanied by her groom and paddle through the canals of local iris gardens.  It’s a beautiful sight that recreates the now outdated practice of a bride carrying their belongings to their new home by boat.

During the month of June, head out to see the brides paddled about amongst the irises as these two locations.

Maekawa Iris Garden

During the Itako Ayame Matsuri (Iris Flower Festival ) you can witness yomeiri-fune as well as Itako-Bayashi (festival music and dance) and Ayame-Odori (local Japanese dance) in Itako, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dates: May 23rd, 2009 to June 28th, 2009
Location: Maekawa Iris Garden (scroll down for garden information)
Transportation: Three minute walk from Itako Station (about 3.5 hours from Tokyo by train)
Yomeiri-fune:  11AM, 2PM and 8PM every Saturday, and 11AM and 2PM every Sunday during the festival period.
Itako-Bayashi (festival music and dance): 1PM – 2PM each Sunday during the festival period.
Ayame-Odori (local Japanese dance): 1:15PM to 1:45PM each Sunday during the festival period.
* subject to cancellation if it rains
Admission: Free

Suisei Shokubutsuen (Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Garden)

Enjoy the irises and Yomeiri-fune at the Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Garden in Katori, Chiba Prefecture.  (Katori Sightseeing map)

Yomeiri-fune dates: June 14th & June 20th (per The Japan Times)
Transportation: Close to Sawara Station (about 2.5 hours from Tokyo by train)  Access Map
Admission: Y200-700 (seasonal) for Adults and Y100-350 for those under 15
Garden Hours: Open 9AM -4:30PM (8AM.-7PM during the Iris Festival). Open every day in May and June. Closed in other months, every Monday, and from December 24 through January 4.

Image Credit:  Japan Photo Library ©Chiba-Prefectural Tourist Association/©JNTO, Yomeiri fune (Wedding Ship)

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