History Of A Japanese Wedding

NicoleMaui Photography

Wedding Tradition History Of A Japanese Wedding


The wedding traditions of Japanese weddings go back hundreds of years, as they are steep in history and ritual. For many, the wedding tradition history is largely unknown to the outside world. However, similar to other nations, the wedding tradition rituals are very much into both family and religion.


There was a time in Japanese marriage history were it was common for the groom to only visit his bride nightly in her home until they either had a child together or after his parents had passed away. Only then would his wife be accepted in her husband’s home. This traditional Japanese marriage was known as Muko-iri. It was common in Japan for the groom to live with the bride’s family for a certain amount of time so that he could help them with the work they had to do to support their family. In some parts of Japan, this is still practiced today where the groom is adopted into another family by marriage.


During the time of the Bushi warriors in the 13th century, brides began to marry into the groom’s family. This type of marriage was called Yomeiri and became the mainstay marriage in the 14th century and still continues to this day. In Japan marriages were often seen as away to bring or maintain peace between different lords.


In the time when the marriage was called a Yomeiri, the man had more of a choice in who he wanted to marry. If the young man was interested in marrying a particular woman, he would visit her home. If her parents approved, the man would go to a ceremony called Tokoro-Arawashi and they eat rice cakes, also known as mochi. At that time this ceremony was seen as the most important event in the ancient wedding practices of the aristocrats.


This practice was also the same among the common people where a young man would visit the family of the girl he was interested in. However, what varied was that labor played a big part in the life of the common people. The labor practices were different depending on the area that you were in. The Tohoku area in Japan, which is in the north, the groom would live with his bride’s family for a certain length of time to offer his labor to them. In Izu Islands, the husband and wife would swap places. The wife would work for his family while he would work for his wife’s family. This labor division is still being practiced when the husband marries into the wife’s family.


Traditional Japanese weddings almost always take place in a shrine called a Shinto shrine. At many places in Japan, where people get married, you will find these shrines. On the Japanese wedding day the bride is painted white from head to toe, which allows her to show to her gods her purity. She will wear a white kimono along with a very ornate head dress that is covered in many ornaments, which is suppose to bring good luck to the new and happy couple. On the bride’s kimono there is a white hood attached that she wears similar to a veil, but it is meant to hide the bride’s horns of jealousy from her mother-in-law, who will become the head of the family.


The groom in a Japanese wedding always wears a black kimono to the wedding. When the groom and bride are sharing their vows, their families face each other. During the ceremony it a ritual for the newlyweds to drink nine cups of sake (which is Japanese alcohol) and after the couple finishes the sake they are considered united as a married couple.


In addition, the family members also drink sake as a symbol of the couple’s unity and of the two families coming together. At this point, the father of the groom will introduce the family members to one another. After the wedding is over the bride will change into a red kimono for the reception celebration. Then later into the celebration, the bride will change once again into a more western style gown. The guests and the wedding party play games, do skits and sing karaoke. Additionally, the guests are expected to offer the couple money in decorated envelopes, either before the wedding or afterwards.


Many Japanese brides choose to get married during the fall or spring because the weather is better. It is also very common to see many of newlywed couples heading off for their honeymoon at the same time because certain wedding days are considered lucky.



For More information on Weddings, please contact Maui Wedding Photographer- Nicole Sanchez