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Newlyweds pose for photos on terrace overlooking tea fields in central Japan

SHIZUOKA -- A wedding service that enables newlyweds to take photos on terraces surrounded by a superb view of tea fields has been launched in central Japan as people avoid holding large-scale wedding receptions amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    The Suruga Marketing & Tourism Bureau, a public interest incorporated foundation based in the city of Shizuoka that engages in tourism promotion of central parts of the prefecture, is behind the new "tea parlor" wedding plan service. The bureau commented, "We'd like for newlyweds to take pictures that will create lasting memories while avoiding the 'three Cs' (of confined spaces, crowded places and close contact), all the more because of these current difficult times under the coronavirus crisis."

    A newlywed couple is seen posing for pictures at the "Sky Tea Terrace," set up at an altitude of 350 meters in the central Japan city of Shizuoka's Shimizu Ward on Oct. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Yukina Furukawa)

    Newlyweds Natsuki Fukuda, 29, and Koki Ueno, 29, who are both from Nagoya in neighboring Aichi Prefecture, read aloud their wedding vows while clothed in traditional Japanese attire at the "Sky Tea Terrace" in Shizuoka's Shimizu Ward on the evening of Oct. 5. With smiles on their faces, the couple said, "We pledge to nurture a warm family while never forgetting feelings of appreciation toward our families who brought us up, and by working together and supporting one another."

    The pair posed for wedding photos for around an hour by holding up teacups filled with green tea, and exchanging rings with tea fields and Mount Fuji -- typical scenery of Shizuoka -- seen in the background.

    Farmers at a total of six locations rent out the terrace space built over tea fields for an hourly fee. Other photo sites besides the "Sky Tea Terrace" include "Panorama Tea Terrace" located in Shizuoka's Shimizu Ward that offers sweeping views of Mount Fuji and Suruga Bay, and the "Woodlands Tea Terrace" set up in a marginal village near an arm of the Oi River in the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Shimada. The rental fee is paid directly to the farm, and the wedding photo plan has gathered attention as contributing to the promotion of the tea industry.

    A newlywed couple is seen posing for pictures at the "Sky Tea Terrace" in the central Japan city of Shizuoka's Shimizu Ward on Oct. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Yukina Furukawa)

    Fukuda, originally from the city of Shimada, had apparently found out about the tea terrace in a magazine and said, "I'm fond of tea and grew up drinking it often. A nice scenery beyond what I'd imagined spread out before me, and it has turned into a good memory."

    The wedding photo service is limited to one couple per day. Its total cost of 173,800 yen (about $1,648) includes charges for the data of 120 photos, expenses for the rental and fitting of garments, and the rental charge for using the terrace for two hours. The service also allows users to apply for just the rental of clothes or only the photo session, and apparently responds flexibly while considering the newlyweds' budget.

    A representative of the Suruga Marketing & Tourism Bureau said, "Newlyweds can take a photo befitting their new beginning as a couple. It'd be great if this also creates an opportunity for them to develop an interest in tea." For more inquiries, please contact the tourism bureau at 054-251-5937.

    (Japanese original by Yukina Furukawa, Shizuoka Bureau)

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