狐の嫁入り・Fox Wedding

“Are you a sunny person or a rainy person?” I am glad to live in a world where weather, personality and mood are dynamic and multilayered.

On a spring day when it was raining and the sun was shining, one of my colleagues said it was  狐の嫁入りkitsune no yomeiri or fox wedding. Fox wedding? I have heard about folktales with fox brides and weddings, but didn’t know there would be a fox wedding procession going on in daylight on an ordinary day .

That way I have learnt that in Japanese language there is an expression 狐の嫁入り kitsune no yomeiri or fox wedding which refers to sunshower:  an atmospheric  phenomenon when sunlight rays go through falling rain.

Where does it come from?

In many Japanese folktales, fox wedding is a procession which welcomes and receives the (fox) bride into her new home carrying innumerable lanterns which glitter from afar. This light is associated to sunshower in daylight or atmospheric ghost light in nightime which during many years were accounted as supernatural.

“On dark and quiet nights, in secret places, strings of lanterns or torches can be seen stretching out single file in an unbroken chain more than two miles long. It is a rare site, but an unmistakable one. It can be seen most often in Kanbara county, and it is said that on such night young foxes claim their mates.”

Since kitsune is also associated with magic, trickery and mischief, seeing fox procession lanterns in a distance would be an ominous sign of loss or death. If one would follow the procession, he or she would be inevitably lost.

Yet there are other “happy” interpretations of this phenomenon. Since in Shinto religion, fox is actually honoured as God’s messenger, seeing fox light can be a good omen and a sign of rising luck. In addition, rain and sun are prosperous for agriculture.

It is interesting how nature and human belief come together hand in hand. Is there any specific expression you call this phenomenon in another language?

 

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Kitsune no yomeiri festival

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