Japanese wedding traditions

By on January 4, 2013

Modern Japanese weddings are increasingly westernized, but there are some key Japanese wedding traditions to respect when looking to replicate a more traditional wedding ritual from Japan.

Japanese wedding traditions : Wedding attire

Traditional Japanese dress for the wedding day included white face makeup with red lips, a wig for ornamentation and a colorful silk kimono. The kimono still plays an integral part in Japanese wedding traditions, but contemporary weddings favor natural hair and make up with a modern white gown to symbolize purity. An element that can be maintained is the customary change of dress, when the bride wears an ‘irouchiakake’ – a red, gold, silver, and white kimono – for the reception. The bride can change again at the end of the reception, into a ‘furisode’ which is a white kimono with long open sleeves usually worn by single women. This represents the last time the bride will ever be single.


japanese wedding traditions
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Shinto wedding takes place at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. Most of the Japanese have Shinto wedding and Buddhist funeral to respect both religion.

Japanese wedding traditions : Sake ceremony

One of the oldest Japanese wedding traditions, which can be easily incorporated into modern Japanese weddings, is ‘san-san-kudo,’ or the sake ceremony. The groom and bride take three sips of sake from three different cups. Then the parents of both bride and groom take sips from the same three cups. This ceremony traditionally took the place of the vows, and was an important ritual to symbolize the union and respect not only between the couple, but between families. In modern ceremonies it is performed usually at the reception.

Japanese wedding traditions : Guests

The guests are highly respected within Japanese wedding tradition, and the bride and groom are known to spend up to 50$ on parting favors alone to show thanks. However, Japanese weddings were typically small and intimate events so the presence of each guest was valued.

Japanese wedding traditions : Shugi-Bukuro

The guests at a traditional Japanese wedding are expected to bring ‘oshugi,’ which is a cash gift for the couple. The cash is given to the newlyweds in a decorative envelop called a ‘shugi-bukuro,’ and the amount depends on the relation between the guest and the couple. In some occasions, the amount of oshugi was specified on the wedding invitations, but this is not something that has been carried over into modern Japanese wedding traditions.

The main Japanese wedding traditions to incorporate into a modernized celebration would include rituals that show respect for the guests and for the families. It is a union of two sets of relatives into one, and the traditions, both modern and traditional, reflect the importance of this bond.

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