Japanese Customs: Weddings

By Donald Ash | Articles

At a Wedding Ceremony in Tokyo

To be quite frank, I don’t know a whole lot about Japanese wedding customs because I haven’t seen an entire wedding. However, late last year, a co-worker got married and I was able to film the opening ceremony, which took place at a shrine in Tokyo. Filming wasn’t allowed inside of the temple though. So how did the Japanese ceremony compare to an American one? Well, for starters, the ceremony was much shorter. I think from start to finish, this had to last about 30-35 minutes at most. I am not sure of the instrument’s name, but it sounded a lot like I imagine Japanese bagpipes would.

Before the Ceremony

Guests stood outside of the temple forming two lines on either side of the shrine’s stone walkway. Everyone was awaiting for the arrival of the bride. People were smiling, talking, and laughing but in a modest volume. After about ten minutes, three men sounded a traditional tone, signaling the coming of the bride. I was excited because this was the first wedding I had ever been invited to. I watched my co-worker, Kumiko being assisted down the stone walkway, and she looked beautiful, and I was in awe of the traditional, Japnese wedding wear. The traditional Japanese wedding gown was quite different from the a western traditional gown. The gown wasn’t really a gown at all, it was a white kimono with thin, delicate red trim. The kimono had a ceremonial, spherical headpiece as well, but no veil. The groom was also dressed in traditional gray hakama and a black kimono top.

After the Ceremony

Once the ceremony ended, just as with American weddings, the bride, groom, and family posed for professional photos. It definitely seemed a lot more formal than the American ceremonies I had been to. After the ceremony ends, there is of course a wedding reception, but I wasn’t able to go to the reception. One interesting difference to note about Japanese weddings is that (from what I understand) they are far more expensive for guests to attend. I’ve heard that’s it’s customary to bring ¥30,000 to a party as a gift. This equates to about $300.00. I can’t imagine having to pay that much for every wedding I went to. It’s great for the bride and groom, though, as it gives them a way to offset quite a bit of the wedding’s cost.

I feel so privileged to have had the chance to go to a Japanese wedding. Attending this ceremony was a great way to experience more about Japanese culture and customs.

Until next time,

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of thejapanguy.com blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
  • Is the wedding kimono actually bought buy the bride or do they hire them? I’ve noticed from the ones I’ve seen that they are pretty much all the same.

    • Donald Ash

      That’s really a good question. I’m not sure on this one, Task. I’ll have to find out.

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