Weddings from the World: Japanese Weddings

Photographer: Vivian Chen

Photographer: Vivian Chen

We have been talking and learning about weddings celebrated in other countries, with cultures very different from ours and that you can bring you so you can immerse into their traditions. Today we will learn about Japanese weddings, which ceremonies are full of tradition even if they have been very influenced by the Western lately.

In Japan, you may see Christian, Buddhist, Shinto and non-religious weddings. In addition, the couple may choose a style of ceremony without being part of their religion.

When you receive the invitation for a Japanese wedding, the recipient must return it with an answer. Also, you have to take cash with you so you can give it to them as a gift in a special envelope called “Shugi-bukuro” with your name written on the front. The amount for the gift will depend on the relationship you have with the couple. Just take into account that the amount must always start with an odd number because when the Japanese marry, they are looking forward union and not dividing anything between two.

The bride and groom’s gowns are very traditional. The bride wears the “shiramuko” which is a white silk kimono. The most appealing detail is that they cover they head with a circular hat called “tsuno-kakushi” which purpose is to cover the horns (jealousy) to her mother-in-law and future mother. Really traditional brides will also paint their faces white to symbolize virginity and purity. Once they are married, the bride usually changes her costume to celebrate. They usually use red because it is a good luck color. The groom carries a “montsuki” which is black kimono. They also change for the celebration by wearing a gray kimono or a black Western suit.

The wedding are held in a temple called “Shinto”. Guests and family are to enter first, followed by the bride who enters taking her mother’s hand and leaves by taking her mother-in-law’s hand. After that, the groom enters taking his father’s hand. Finally, the Shinto priest enters lastly.  The ceremony take approximately 20 minutes. It begins with a prayer in classical Japanese, then the couple exchanges the “Juzu” which is a type of old rosary and then exchange the rings.

The most important part of the ceremony is when they drink the “San San Kudu,” which means Three-Three-Nine and represents heaven, earth and man. This act symbolizes union of the couple and the gods. They use three cups called “sakazuki” and drink in three sips. Number nine is three times number three, which is a sacred number meant to bring happiness to the couple.

After the ceremony, all the guests and family members walk, in procession following the couple for the family photos. Now is when the bride takes off her hat. Japanese do not usually have physical contact or displays of affection in public, for you to take into consideration.