Otari is a small farming village located in northern Nagano Prefecture of central Japan. As of 2010, the village has an estimated population of 3,225 people, over 70% of which are over the age of 65.
Like many of the other aging, depopulated communities that typify the Japanese countryside, most of Otari’s young adult population move to larger urban areas after graduating high school to seek work or attend college. Very few come back.
However new life was breathed into this dying village late last year when a young couple decided to throw a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony in Otari — the first to be held in the village in 42 years.
Kenichi and Ayaka, while not originally from Otari, decided to live in the village last year after falling in love with the beautiful scenery, warmhearted locals — and each other: the two met through a regional outdoor adventure club based in the village.
The couple have actually been married for more than four years, but had skipped out on the ceremony and thought there was no better way to celebrate the start of their new life together in Otari than holding a wedding with the people who had come to feel like family, in the place that had come to feel like home.
Happy Dayz Productions, a videographer based in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture, has uploaded a beautiful video of the event to YouTube, which you can see embedded below:
The wedding took place on November 23, 2012, and locals came out to greet the “newlywed” bride and groom as they walked together through the village. The day was a joyous occasion for everyone, and you can see the happiness on the elderly women’s faces in the video as they compliment the bride, “You’re beautiful! You’re beautiful!”
According to the video description, the wedding decorations were made by friends and coworkers, the food was prepared by elderly women of the village, and the entertainment was provided by the local taiko drumming troupe — making it a true celebration of the bride and groom’s commitment to both each other and the local community.