The Japanese marriage system and wedding ceremonies have many traditional aspects which are incorporated into both the celebrations leading up to and including the actual wedding day. However, overall, the practices are more formalized and structured than those in Western culture. For example, traditional arranged meetings are common in Eastern culture and the parents of the bride and groom have a great influence on the marriage, whereas in Western culture many marriages are formed through two individuals meeting on their own accord. Traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies are more elaborate in ceremony, dress, and are more formal than those in the West. This paper strives to study different aspects of the traditional Japanese wedding including the history, arranged marriages, wedding gifts, the wedding date, attire, the ceremony and the reception. History
Weddings have not always been a formal practice in Japan. Before 1868, the samurai were the only people who had official marriages. Others were considered married once a man began regularly seeing a woman. This practice was later changed by the Meiji government by forming marriage laws and Shinto wedding ceremonies (Hays). During the era of the aristocracy, Muko-iri was the traditional form of marriage. In the Muko-iri marriage, the groom married into the bride’s family. The groom was only permitted to visit his bride at nighttime until they either had a child or his parents passed away. It was after this that the bride would finally be accepted into the groom’s family. The groom would often offer his labor for the bride’s family, and in some parts of Japan, the bride would do the same for the grooms family. This was significant for the common people because it greatly helped sustain the family’s lifestyle. The “Bushi” warriors began to change the Japanese marriage system. The practice of “muko-iri” shifted to the practice of “yome-iri”, in which the bride joins the groom’s family. Arranged Marriages
Japanese have traditionally considered marriages as a bonding of families rather than individuals (Hays). The practice of miai, which is an arranged meeting between two prospective individuals with the intention to get married, is established by a match maker known as a nakodo. The nakodo is usually a family friend or relative of one of the partners. They decide to arrange the meeting after looking at the couple’s compatibility based on social class, educational background, interest and hobbies, etc. During the formal introduction, the individual’s evaluations will be presented to their parents prior to the couple’s first meeting. The parents will decide to either reject or approve the match. If they approve, they will notify their children. After this, the prospective couple can decide if they want to reject or approve the meeting. Before the 1900’s, the practice of miai was more of a formal practice rather than an opportunity for individuals to find a desired match (“Japanese Marriage”). Although most young Japanese people today favor the “love marriages” which are common in the Western world, it is estimated that between 10-30% of all marriages in Japan are still arranged (“Arranged Marriages: Past and Present”). Wedding Gifts
After the couple has been matched and are engaged, both families will meet on a day that is promising to them for a dinner and the exchanging of engagement gifts called yui-no. The bride is given a kimono sash called an obi representing female virtue, while the groom is given a skirt called a hakama that is usually black representing fidelity. The couple also receives nine gifts wrapped in rice paper: * “Naga-Noshi” is abalone shell widely used in Japan to make crafts and gifts. It is used to express sincere wishes from the giver.
* “Mokuroku” is the list of gifts exchanged in the engagement.
* “Katsuo-bushi” is dried bonito (a highly valued preserved food ingredient used to make soup stock)....