In Japan, there are two sorts of wedding ceremonies: western-style and Japanese traditional wedding styles. In Japan, being legally married and having a wedding ceremony are two different things. You must register with the city or municipal office to be officially married, and you can have a wedding ceremony before or after registering as a married couple. Today, the majority of Japanese couples enjoy a western-style wedding ceremony, yet Japan still has its distinctive method of celebrating marriage. The wedding ceremonies in Japan are described here, along with a description of the traditional Japanese wedding style, which includes exquisite kimonos.
While some historical Japanese wedding traditions can be seen in modern Japanese weddings, the nuptials celebrated by the majority of couples in Japan today are not as convenient as one might think. While Japanese culture, etiquette, and customs are still very much evident in Japanese weddings, the events tend to merge current flair with traditional components to create a more modern, westernized occasion. Though Japanese customs and rituals still exist, they are not as prominent as they once were. These weddings are a blend of traditional Japanese culture and refined Western elements.
To be honest, Japanese weddings are fairly comparable to American weddings in terms of style. Shinto-style wedding ceremonies account for about ten to twenty percent of all weddings. Regardless of whether or not they are Christians, most couples want a Christian-style wedding in a chapel.
13 Japanese Wedding Traditions
The yuinou, or Japanese betrothal ceremony, is a symbolic gift exchange between the families of the to-be-weds. Yuinou is a customary exchange of gifts between the bride’s and groom’s families. They exchange gifts and betrothal money. It is usually held at the bride’s family home, but it can also be held in a private room of a traditional Japanese restaurant. The furisode, a kimono for unmarried women, is worn by many brides.
Konbu, a seaweed whose name can be written to mean “child-bearing woman,” a long white piece of hemp, representing a wish for the couple to grow old and grey together, and a folding fan, which spreads to represent future wealth and growth, were all popular gifts to exchange during yuinou in the past. Money (about $5,000) was stuffed into a shugi-bukuro, a unique envelope with gold and silver ribbons that are tough to untangle. The rest of the items come in beautiful rice-paper packets. Yuinou, on the other hand, is becoming more relaxed, such as a family lunch or dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant.
A sake-sharing ceremony is part of traditional Shinto wedding rites, although many modern Japanese weddings aren’t as deep in tradition. According to legend, the modern Shinto wedding style began roughly 120 years ago at the wedding of the Japanese Emperor. Shinto weddings include not only the exchange of wedding vows and rings but also the exchange of cups of sacred sake between brides and grooms and their families. This Shinto wedding ceremony is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and it is known as ‘San San Kudo, or the exchange of sake cups between brides and grooms.
The common term is San San Kudo, whereas the formal term is ‘Sankon No Gi’. The couple is firmly joined as husband and wife by sipping sake from the same sake cup. Sake cups come in three sizes: small for the past, medium for the present, and large for the future.
Small one represents: ‘I am grateful for my ancestors who reared me and for the people I have met in the past.
Medium one represents: ‘I want to marry and work with this person.
Large one represents: ‘A longing to create a happy family and pledge lifelong love’.
Regardless of religious ceremonies, Shu Shu Costa writes in Wild Geese and Tea: An Asian-American Wedding Planner that most Japanese weddings involve a cultural sake-sharing practice known as san-san-kudo:- san means “three” ku means “nine” and do means “to distribute”. This custom dates back to a time when sharing sake formed a formal bond that was as solid as a handshake in Victorian times. The bride and groom each take three drinks from three flat sake cups stacked on top of one another. Then their parents join them in taking drinks (for a total of nine sips), reinforcing the family tie.
In Japan, they have a calendar phrase for fortune-telling called Rokuyo. In Japanese wedding traditions, couples consult the calendar as part of rokuyo when arranging their wedding to choose an auspicious wedding date. The technique has its origins in China. The most fortunate day is Taian, which is also the most popular day. Butsumetsu, on the other hand, is the unluckiest day, but some wedding venues give discounts on certain days. Parents still consider the wedding date nowadays, but young couples are less concerned.
While Saturday evenings are the most common time for weddings in the United States, most Japanese weddings take place during the day rather than at night. In America, I believe the most preferred day and time for a ceremony and supper reception is Saturday afternoon. Sunday late-morning ceremony followed by a formal afternoon lunch reception is the most common day and time in Japan.
It is not common in Japanese weddings to assemble a vendor team from scratch. In most cases, venues handle everything in-house, from floral arrangements to photography to dress rentals and makeup. In Japan, venues manage everything, so selecting one for your special day is perhaps the most important decision couples will make. Everything is generally handled in-house by the venues. They have their bridal shop (for wedding gown rentals), as well as a makeup artist, florist, and photographer, and videographer on staff. Couples can choose from a variety of packages offered by the venue, and other vendors are unusual.
Although some wedding companies are attempting to modify the wedding culture by hiring a freelance wedding planner, Japanese weddings are still relatively generic. Couples must first select a venue, after which an in-house wedding planner will be assigned to each couple. Normally, they are unable to select a wedding planner. They must also use in-house and/or related flowers, photographers, and other vendors. Otherwise, they will have to incur additional fees. Weddings are becoming more flexible and adaptable in cities like Tokyo, but rural rituals remain unchanged since the 1970s.
Honoring the Parents with a Bouquet
There is a bouquet presentation and a bride’s letter to parents at the wedding reception. After the reception, the bride and groom present their parents with bouquets, followed by the bride presenting her parents with a letter. This event may come as a surprise, but it is a one-of-a-kind Japanese event in that it is extremely emotional and leaves many guests in tears. It comes to a close with a thank-you speech from the groom’s father and the groom himself. Marriage in Japan is still viewed as a union between two families. For example, if Ms. Hanako Yamada and Mr. Taro Tanaka are getting married, the invitation reads “Wedding Reception for The Tanakas and The Yamadas”.
Japanese receptions are meticulously planned. Finally, the couple delivers a hanataba to their parents (large flower bouquet). It’s a method of honoring and thanking your parents for everything they’ve done up to this point. The bride will next read a letter to her parents that she has written. It’s usually very emotional, and the guests’ eyes well up with tears.
A widespread misperception regarding Japanese wedding receptions is that there is dancing. In Japan, dancing is not a big element of the wedding day. It’s a much more formal occasion, and pals will go out later to drink and dance at an after-party. The wedding ceremony is much more official, organized, and punctual as a result of the lack of dancing. Typically, only family members attend the wedding ceremony, with guests arriving for the celebration. The welcome is quite formal and on time. In Japan, dancing is not very popular. The first dance is optional for couples, although DJ and live bands are reserved for the after-party. While sweetheart tables or couples seated with their wedding party are common in other nations, in Japan, the VIPs are often your bosses and coworkers. They will join you at the head table, while your relatives and friends will be seated further away.
Japanese wedding traditions present for the soon-to-be-weds, monetary gifts wrapped in beautiful cloth wrapping are typical. Goshugi-bukuro (shugi-bukuro) is a Goshugi-specific envelope. In Japan, goshugi is a monetary wedding present. Normally, if you are a couple’s buddy, you should contribute $30,000 (about $300). 50000 (about $500) if you are their boss or teacher. 50000 to 100000 (about $1000) if you are a relative.
Money should be wrapped in a Goshugi-bukuro, which can be found in a Japanese stationery store, supermarket, or convenience store. A specific cloth called fukusa should be used to transport goshugi-bukuro. A fresh new bill in an appropriate wedding envelope is required for the monetary present (called shugi-bukuro). Don’t hand over stale money. Ensure that the bills are crisp $100 bills. Also, avoid giving a sum that is divisible by two. It’s considered unlucky because the couple can simply split it.
It is also customary for the couple to offer gifts to their wedding guests, known as hikidemono. Hikidemono is a gift given by the bride and groom to their guests as a token of their thanks and hospitality. Guests can now select hikidemono goods from a catalog, which has proven to be very popular. It includes presents that are based on experiences, such as spa treatments or afternoon tea. The Hikidemono costs about a tenth of the price of goshugi. When visitors depart the venue, the couples also offer them a small present of roughly $200-500 ($2-5) in the form of sweets, bath salts, candles, and other small items.
Wedding dresses are frequently rented in Japan rather than purchased. Japanese wedding traditions do not include dancing, and the bride and groom spend the majority of the reception at their table. As a result, dresses are frequently possible to be maintained clean. Furthermore, most brides switch from a white bridal gown to a colored gown for the reception. Brides rent both kimonos and Western-style outfits in Japan, while men will rent a tux on their wedding day. Kimonos also have the advantage of essentially wrapping that can be tailored to fit any size.
Changes of Dresses
Wataboshi or tsunokakushi are large white hats worn by brides. It’s a Japanese word that means “veil.” It’s a large white cloth that may be worn in a variety of ways. Underneath the gown, the bride usually wears a wig. I was astounded to learn that it is customary to change outfits several times throughout the wedding day. I believe the most frequent number is two, but I’ve heard of weddings with as many as five costume changes! Oironaoshi translates to “changing colors,” therefore your initial glimpse will usually be white and your second will be a brighter color. The shiromuku (traditional white kimono for brides) is the first attire, followed by a more colorful kimono for the second. The groom wears the same attire throughout the ceremony.
Wedding Portraits for Japanese Wedding
When it comes to wedding photography, formal photographs are given great attention in Japan. You’re used to having the entire day captured when you think of wedding photography in other nations. From getting ready to first impressions and everything in between, we’ve got you covered. However, in Japan, formal images are the only thing that matters. One photo of the bride and groom, one shot of the immediate relatives, and one photo of the guests. We didn’t get the digital files; instead, we got a framed book with the three images. They then construct a snapshots photo package for the reception. In a more traditional event photography style, they give roughly 70-80 photographs from the reception.
While day-of-wedding photography is more limited in Japan, bride and groom photos are typical either before or after the wedding day. Maedori (the day before your wedding) and Atodori (the day of your wedding) (after your wedding day). You don’t have to take time away from your wedding day to get these photographs; instead, you can arrange them for a period after your wedding. You have the option of shooting in a studio, at your wedding site, or somewhere altogether else.
Tips for Guests for Japanese wedding Traditions
If you’re going to a Shinto wedding, remember to wear socks or stockings because walking around the temple barefoot is considered blasphemy to the Gods. Women are required to wear a one-piece dress or kimono as part of the guest dress code. In Japan, there is a tradition of determining good or bad luck based on Kanji/Chinese characters or the sound of a word. Wearing two pieces, for example, means separate or ‘divorce.’ White is the color of the bride in Western culture, and black is the color of sorrow, hence they are both forbidden.
However, some couples presently request that you come dressed in white or a specific color, in which case you should comply. Because they remind people of life and death, animal leathers and fur are not permitted at Japanese weddings. Swinging earrings elicit a sense of ‘instability (unstable family),’ thus they’re not a suitable choice. In addition, TPO, which stands for ‘Time, Place, and Occasion/Opportunity,’ is a unique way of dressing in Japan. At a Japanese wedding, for example, sleeveless and barefoot attire are not permitted. You must cover your arms if your clothing is sleeveless.
Japanese wedding ceremonies held outside of Japan have become a new trend. Combining the wedding and honeymoon is a terrific method to save money on the wedding. It also reduces the number of visitors. More Japanese women are opting to wear kimonos and/or dresses less frequently. During one of her shifts, one bride admitted that she considered not returning to the wedding party.
If you are fortunate enough to be invited to a wedding, accept the invitation. It’s a fantastic opportunity and a lot of fun. Even if you don’t speak Japanese fluently, you will enjoy the events of the day.