Monday, August 13, 2012

Japan’s First Honeymoon

Monument of the couple
 in Shiobitashi
   After the Saccho-Domei alliance in 1866, Ryoma was attacked in Teradaya Inn and wounded. Encouraged by others, he decided to take a trip to relax and let his wounds heal. Along with his new wife Oryo, Ryoma and others including Takamori Saigo and Kosuke Yoshii (1828-1891) sailed from Osaka to Satsuma aboard the “Mikuni-maru”.

   The newlyweds went to hot springs such as Hinatayama, Shiobitashi, and Kirishima. The bath at Shiobitashi that Ryoma and Oryo were said to have used still remains to this day.
   They also climbed the famous Mt.Takachiho (Takachiho-no-mine), one of the volcanoes of the Kirishima Mountains which are known as the location of Japan’s creation mythology.
   At the peak of Mt.Takachiho is Ama-no-sakahoko, a pike thought to have been dropped from the heavens by the god Ninigi-no-Mikoto. In his letters to his sister Otome, Ryoma writes that the sight made him and Oryo laugh out loud because it reminded them of a tengu (Japanese demon with a long Pinocchio-like nose). He also writes that the two of them pulled the pike out from the ground, but it looked to have no value so they put it back.

   After descending from the mountains, they prayed and stayed a night at the Kirishima Shrine.

   In an era when women—regardless of whether or not they were married—were expected to sit quietly at home, Oryo’s accompaniment throughout Ryoma’s trip was unheard of and their intimate travels were probably looked down upon by many. It was not for another 50 years (around the Taisho and Showa eras) that honeymooning became customary in Japan. As the earliest recorded “vacation” taken by Japanese newlyweds, Ryoma and Oryo’s little trip is considered Japan’s first honeymoon.

Taken from vol.33 PDF

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