Japanese lovebirds flock to marry in Swiss Alps
By Catherine Bosley and Arnd Wiegmann
GRINDELWALD, Switzerland (Reuters Life!) - Facing an Alpine cow with a bell round its neck , Arisa Chi gripped her bouquet a little tighter, adjusted the cream-colored ruffles of her dress and smiled for the camera.
"We wanted to come because he loves the nature," she said, pointing to her new husband Kenji Yoshida, standing at her side.
Japanese are among the most numerous overseas tourists in Switzerland, and their presence has given rise to businesses catering to their tastes -- including weddings like Chi's.
In Grindelwald, the small town below the gray crag of the Eiger North Face, shop signs bear Kanji characters, the train station's main platform is bustling with Japanese tourists, and a chalet is even called Nagano, the Japanese region that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998.
"It was my hope to come here for 30 years," said Katsuhiko Naito, a government employee in Tokyo who first visited Switzerland as a student and was about to embark on a hike up the mountain First.
"In Japan, Grindelwald is a very famous place," he said. "More famous even than Zurich."
Switzerland's efficient public transport and low crime rate also appeal to tourists from Japan, where people are often concerned about safety.
"We can't see anything like this in Japan," said Noriko Setoguchi, who works in marketing in Tokyo and on her honeymoon with her husband, a scientist. Continued...