Japanese Shinto Wedding

November 14, 2016

Now that the Wedding Season is in full swing let’s take a tour of different wedding traditions from around the world. We start with Japan, whose traditional wedding ceremony is now becoming a rarity. Japanese couples prefer modern Western celebrations, but the traditional Japanese wedding, which is inspired by Shintoism, still exists and is a true hymn to poetry, love and beauty.

The Shinto wedding rituals are celebrated in a temple (jin-ga) or at the groom’s house and spring is traditionally considered a favourable season. The bride usually wears a richly decorated kimono with a voluminous silk headdress. Whereas the groom wears a black and white three-piece kimono made of an underkimono, a black kimono with his family crests tied with an obi belt and a pair of black and white striped pants. These ensembles are elaborate and expensive so very often the couple will rent them for the day.

The ceremony involves a first phase of purification (harai-gushi) for the room and the participants, where the Shinto monk waves strips of white paper attached to a stick. This is followed by the sake ceremony (san-san-kudo), where the bride and groom exchange and drink three cups of sake of different size. In Shintoism drinking sake entails forming a bond with the deities and three is considered a lucky number. Then, the wedding participants stand and clap twice in order to ward off evil spirits. Following this religious celebration, a reception with the extended family, friends and colleagues is held. There are speeches and of course a lot of sake drinking!

 

Picture: Watabe Wedding Kyoto