And welcome to the Blue Lagoon Chapel here in
beautiful Hawaii! You must be tired from your
journey. Do not worry. Here you can take a moment
to relax before you begin your new lives in Holy
sounded like Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island, but
that was the best ad-libbing I could do. Chizu
hadn't really given me much to go on. All she
said was that I had to include the "Aloha"
line as well as say they must be tired after their
long trip -- 2 things a priest would probably
never say at a real wedding.
of course, this ceremony wasnt real
and Im not a real priest. Once again, I
was in one of those Twilight Zone moments that
only a foreigner in Japan can get himself into.
I was being paid 10,000 yen (100 bucks) + train
fare, to act as a Catholic priest in a demonstration
wedding. Of course, the money wasnt really
the point. I was doing it mainly as a favor to
my friend Chizu who works for a travel agency
that arranges "American-style" weddings
in Hawaii and of course to tell people at future
cocktail parties about how "I was once a
wedding package includes everything you could
want to make your wedding perfect: Dresses, tuxes,
photographs, a white stretch, even musical entertainment.
But thats not all! At no extra charge theyll
release a flock of multicolored doves at the end
of the ceremony!
turns-out, I was actually Chizus 2nd choice
to play the part. Initially shed hoped that
our mutual friend ToShun could do it (see NM 8).
Unfortunately, he was still on vacation in the
US. ToShun, with his foot-long dreadlocks and
appetite for women had never really struck me
as the priestly type. But then Chizus brain
works in mysterious ways. Perhaps he had the right
look for a chaplain at the Blue Lagoon Chapel?
I got the job in Toshuns absence. Still,
I had no priestly robes. All I wore was a black
suit with a red piece of cloth draped over my
shoulders. I looked more like a televangelist,
except that I lacked a hairdo of biblical proportions.
"Blue Lagoon Chapel" was also a little
lacking. Desks had been pushed back and folding
chairs had been set-up in the middle of the travel
agency. A red carpet led down the middle of the
room to my "podium" (music stand). Bright
yellow vending machines flanking me on each side
gave-off what could be interpreted as "heavenly
light" if you were legally blind.
MC stood just off to my left beside a whiteboard.
Occasionally hed jump in and give everyone
a John Madden style explanation of what was happening
in the ceremony, complete with X and O diagrams:
"Notice how you are expected to walk in unison
to the wedding march music! One, stop, two, stop,
three, etc! Isn't interesting?!"
was also a large photograph on the whiteboard
of a newly wed Japanese couple standing together
waving out of the sunroof of the limo. They had
ecstatic grins on their faces but instead of making
the mandatory "peace sign" pose, they
opted for their newly mastered Hawaiian "Hang
10." Behind the limo you could see the Blue
lagoon chapel (which really is blue by the way)
and the pastel rainbow doves flying off into the
my little "aloha" welcome, I was supposed
to read a passage from the Bible. Chizu assumed
that because my father was a minister, as was
my grandfather, that naturally I would know exactly
what to read. She was wrong. 10 minutes before
the ceremony, I asked her, "Will anyone there
speak English?" "Probably not"
was her reply. So I decided to open the Bible
to a random page and simply read it with a smile
on my face. I figured I'd leave it up to God himself.
Well, God obviously has a great sense of humor.
At the designated time, I opened the Bible and
hear there is FORNICATION among you!"
looked up in shock. Id randomly landed on
the page where Paul speaks to the Corinthians
on the evils of incest! 50 blank Asian faces awaited
my next words of wisdom. Wheeeeww! I thought to
myself. I enthusiastically read on.
bride stood shaking in her dress, as did the groom
in his gaudy, white tux, with big gold buttons.
Both were too nervous to even hear me. The two
were young travel agents whod been voted
most potentially attractive couple by their coworkers
and forced into it. Beads of sweat were forming
on the groom's brow. His outfit reminded me of
Captain Stubing on the Love Boat. I looked back
down and finished my speech on the vilification
of sleeping with thy own sister.
it was my turn to get nervous. According to the
official script, after the reading I was supposed
to break out a ukulele and dedicate a Hawaiian
wedding song to the couple. Hard to believe but
yes, they actually have some guy in Hawaii (I
wonder if hes a real priest?) who does this
whole act! "A weekee heelee haylee and uh
I uh luva luva luvva youuu!" I saw it with
my own eyes on a Blue Lagoon wedding on video
after the demonstration was over.
to my relief the MC explained that I wouldn't
be singing, but assured them they'd get their
song if they signed up. He then went on to explain
that after the song, the Bride and Groom exchange
their vows of love. He bowed and apologized profusely
for my not singing, then asked that I continue.
It was time for the exchanging of the rings:
you Haruko, take Masamichi to be your lawfully
wedded husband, in sickness and in health until
death do you part?"
"I do" (I whispered).
err, "Yes, I do!"
you Masamichi, take Haruko to be your lawfully
wedded wife, in sickness and in health until death
do you part?"
the power vested in me (what power?) I now pronounce
you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.
said, you may kiss the bride!"
kiss. The couple just stood there with embarrassing
smiles on their faces. They were paralyzed with
the fear that they might actually have to kiss
each other in public.
said the MC and at that point he explained that,
in a real "American wedding" the kiss
makes the union official and that all couples
do it. Gasps of nervous laughter were heard among
the crowd. I could tell they were shocked by the
idea, but at the same time, intrigued. They must
have felt it was something extremely bold and
romantic. In other words, totally foreign, but
something theyd like to try if only they
could summon the nerve.
still couldn't believe what a big fuss everyone
was making over a little kiss! You people can
sit naked in public baths together! Why can't
you kiss each other in public?! Because most Japanese
people would rather expose their private parts
than their private feelings? Well, maybe thats
going a bit far, but you get my point.
was basically the end of the ceremony. I gave
the final "aloha" statement and good-bye
to the couple and the demonstration was over.
Afterward, I decided to stay a while and watch
some of the Japanese women enthusiastically try
on the company's wedding dresses. Interestingly
enough, they werent all white. In Japan,
just about any color goes, even orange or pastel
popularity of Christian weddings in Japan still
strikes me as odd. They've got their own wedding
ceremonies, so why opt for a Christian one? First,
they don't really think of them as "Christian"
like we do. Most Japanese associate the word "Christian"
with overzealous Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Baptists,
etc. knocking on their doors and trying to convince
them that if they don't stop praying to their
idols and start worshiping this blue-eyed hippie
gaijin guy, theyll burn in Hell! If I tell
them I'm a Christian, they automatically assume
that I am so extreme in my religious beliefs that
I'd be willing to jump in front of a bus to prove
to them that my god will protect me. Most Japanese
do not consider themselves to be very religious
even though they may have shrines in their houses
that they meticulously care for and pray in front
of every day. To them, our weddings are simply
"Western" which is synonymous with romantic,
gallant, chivalric, etc.
taken the religion out of the Christian wedding
and made it their own, just as in the US we've
taken the spice out of Mexican food and made it
into Taco Bell. To me, both concepts seem ridiculous,
but for some reason the idea of adopting another
culture's religious ceremonies minus the religion
seems more odd than a "Bell Beefer with Mexi-fries.
... Hmm, well now that I put it that way, maybe
us with your comments.