Wedding of the Foxes

Huge Fox Lanterns made by an Elementary school in the district


Tsugawa, Niigata, Japan

May 3, 2012

On the evening of May 3 (a Golden Week Holiday) we went to Tsugawa, Niigata to see a festival called, Kitsune-no-yomeiri. ("Kitsune"= fox; "no" = of ; "yomeiri" = "bridal ceremony"...kind of, we think)

As has been with all of our adventures recently it was pouring with rain but thankfully, things went on.

In the old days a bride marched to the groom's house to be married. Throughout Japan there are many folklores about "fox-fire" in the mountains and woods surrounding small towns and villages.  Actually its not a real fire; It was believed that this light is caused by a parade of foxes carrying lanterns as they guide a "fox-bride" on her way to the "fox-groom's" house. In this district in the old days there used to be a lot of foxes at Kirin-zan and this festival celebrates the local fox bride's journey to the river to meet her groom.

Thank you to my wife for her patience in explaining to me about what she understands about the event. It would differ depending on location.

Actually the stars of the show are carefully selected and are real subjects for marriage. On this particular evening, it was the groom who is a real home town boy. -So we heard!

Front of the procession. As you can see everything was covered with plastic.
Foxes carrying lanterns at the front of the procession
You can almost see someone (a fox) inside the plastic hood

All the participants were wearing fox make-up

Apparently if you pay 600 yen yo can have your face painted like a fox!

Suddenly, we could see the beautiful fox bride

The procession headed out over the bridge crossing the river....Onlookers had to stay back and watch.

On the other side of the bridge the groom appeared with his fox party.

The bride and groom met in the middle of the bridge and bowed up the river.

All the foxes came back towards the town side of the river....

....and disappeared into a sea of umbrellas. only close glimpse of the happy couple

They had a ceremony on a stage by the river and it was televised on a large screen

Another glimpse through the crowd. The ceremony lasts for two hours and everybody eventually waves the married couple off on a boat on the river...

We didn't wait for all to finish.
Looking back down the river. The stage (orange light on the right) and crowd on the left.