The Leaf chapel sits within the grounds of the Risonare hotel resort in Kobuchizawa, a refreshingly green setting with beautiful views to the southern Japanese Alps, Yatsugatake peaks and Mt.Fuji. The chapel is formed by 2 leaves – one glass, one steel – which have seemingly fluttered to the ground.
The glass leaf with its delicate lace pattern motif emulates a pergola and the structure holding it up reminds one of the veins of a leaf which slowly become thinner the further they get from the central stem.
The white steel leaf, perforated with 4700 holes, each of which holds an acrylic lens, is similar to bride’s veil made of delicate lace. Light filters through the lenses and projects a lace pattern onto the white fabric inside. Throughout the day as the sun turns the projected pattern naturally changes to create a myriad of different lace patterns on the inner lining of the veil creating a marvelous background to the wedding ceremony.
At the end of the ceremony when the groom lifts the bride’s veil for the (legendary) kiss the ‘steel veil’ magically opens too, revealing the pond and the enchanting nature beyond. Although weighing 11 tons the cylinder mechanism allows the veil to lift silently, almost like a sheet of fabric, in 38 seconds.
The bright white purity of the occasion is heightened even more by keeping the interior materials purposely dark, so the bride and the kimono clad guests stand out while the men in black suits fade into the background. So the sides are walls clad in blackened timber and the floor laid in black granite. Black timber benches can accommodate a party of up to 80 people.
The backrests of the benches are made of cast acrylic. A light green flower motif is encapsulated in the 20mm acrylic giving it the pattern a somewhat soft watery effect. When seen from the back of the chapel and against the pond through the open veil the impression is of many water plants blooming in the pond. Or when the veil is down, a flower field, which seems to sway in front of the white background.
The flower chosen is a Rempukusou, a rather petite flower with yellow petals, which grows at a stream nearby, however the Chinese characters of its name signify good luck – befitting happy weddings!
At the end of the ceremony, when the veil is up, the wedding party carefully walks on the stepping stones across the pond where the lawn surrounded by trees welcomes them for the champagne toast.
A moonlight wedding ceremony at the Leaf Chapel can be dramatic too as a warm flood light shines through the acrylic lenses of the veil revealing yet another astonishing lace pattern. On lifting the veil a sea of candles awaits the guests on the lawn across the pond. And while they sip their champagne the Leaf Chapel sets the mood in the background. The with its veil closed an light shining from the inside chapel becomes a huge yet delicate lantern.