I knew in over 13,000 photos I should be able to find something that represented a ‘Gathering’ and here it is.
This photo was taken at the wedding of my son to his lovely Japanese wife. They were married in a Shinto shrine in Kurashiki and then had their reception afterwards in a Ryokan – a traditional Japanese hotel.
These hotels, like many traditional Japanese homes, have floor coverings made of tatami (straw) mats. To keep these clean you would never wear outdoor footwear when walking on them. Japanese people always take off their outdoor footwear before entering their homes, the shrines and any of the more traditional hotels and restaurants. To save you carrying round your indoor slippers these are provided for you by the hotels and shrines and are usually this same cream colour. This distinguishes them from the slippers you change into when visiting the rest rooms. These are often a darker colour. The real problem for us westerners is remembering to change out of the ‘toilet’ slippers when returning to the hotel or restaurant. Yes, you can guess who has forgotten and on more than one occasion! Oh the shame when you realise that your feet are the wrong colour! Of course Japanese people are far to polite ever to say anything.
These slippers were laid out ready for all the wedding guests who were arriving for the reception. So not only is it a gathering of slippers, but it represents a much more important gathering – that of our two families, one British and one Japanese, coming together to celebrate a very happy union.