Weddings across the cultures have something symbolic about them. Tying the knot in any culture comes with a list of traditions and rituals. Traditional Japanese weddings involve many customs and ceremonies. A Japanese wedding may be Shinto, Christian, Buddhist, or non-religious. Most of the weddings in Japan are held at chapels in front of the shrines or idols. Traditionally, marriages were categorized into two types depending on the method of finding a partner- miai, meaning arranged or resulting from an arranged introduction, and ren'ai, in which the principals meet and decide to marry on their own.
The Japanese bride is dressed in white attire along with a headgear. The headgear may be a white hood or tsunokakushi, which symbolizes obedience. Japanese wedding dress is either of the two types- the shiro, which is a white kimono worn for the ceremony and the uchikake kimono which is a patterned brocade worn at the wedding reception. The bride also carries a small fan hooked in her belt, which symbolizes peace and prosperity. Along with this a tiny purse (hakoseko) with an encased sword (kaiken) is also carried by the bride.
Rituals like "san-san-kudo" are very popular in Japanese weddings. “Ku” or 9 is a lucky number in the Japanese culture and “do” means deliverance from the three human flaws of hatred, passion, and ignorance. The ritual is performed by the bride, the groom and their parent. Each person takes three sips of sake from each of the three cups.
Another ritual involves presenting a rosary with 21 beads that signify the couples, their families and Buddha all linked together in one string. Just like the Chinese, Japanese also go through a ‘Betrothal Ceremony’. The Betrothal ceremony, also called the ‘Yuino’, involves an exchange of nine symbolic gifts between the family of the bride and the groom.
A rehearsal dinner is held before the ceremony where the mother of the bride lowers her veil, representing the last act a mother can do for a daughter whereas the father of the bride walks her down the aisle. The wedding celebrant starts by giving a brief welcome and introduction. The service is given either in Japanese, English or both. The celebrant further reads a prayer and explains the sanctity of a wedding. Further, the couple takes wedding vows and exchange the rings. Next the chapel register is signed by announcing the new couple. This is often followed by a traditional exchange of kiss between the bride and the groom. A great part of the ceremony involves offering the parents with love and respect with a toast, bouquet of flowers or a letter. Apart from this, 1,001 gold origami cranes are folded as cranes symbolize peace and longevity.
The Reception Dinner
Just like in every other culture, the reception food and drinks hold utmost importance. Plenty of courses are served, with each course having a special meaning or significance behind it. The courses are not served in a multiple of four as it symbolizes bad luck or even death.