Japanese Traditional Wedding at Shrines


Western-style weddings used to be more popular in Japan, and it used to be very popular to have wedding ceremonies in Hawaii.

Recently, Japanese style weddings that are called Shinzen-shiki, (神前式) are re-emerging in popularity here in Japan. Shinzen-shiki means to have a wedding in front of God.

Originally in olden times, Japanese weddings used to be much simpler involving mostly just the 2 families, but during the Taisho era (大正), the Taisho Emperor started a new format for the wedding ceremony known as Shinzen-shiki, that has remained up to present day. 


What is Japanese wedding like? If you are thinking that you want to have a Japanese style wedding ceremony, or have been invited to one, you may want to know about some important things about the wedding and the traditions.

What is Japanese religion?

Japanese traditional religion is Shinto, (神道) and people go to shrines, (神社 jinjya) for new year’s days or even anytime just to pray.

Shinto developed from ancient Japanese that believes in 8,000,000 different Gods with Buddhism and some Chinese religious.

This is unique to Japan and different from religions believes in only one God.

In Shinto, people don’t separate each God among many Gods and believe in all of the Gods, even those in other religions. This is why most of the Japanese go to Shrine for new years day, temple for funeral, and Church for wedding.

We have many kinds of God, such as God of the Sun; 太陽神 (taiyoushin) or God that makes you poor; 貧乏神 (binbogami), and Shinto is developed from an ancient religion of ancient times.


In fact, there are lots of places to enshrine Gods like the Torii gate, (鳥居) that’s everywhere in Japan.




At a Japanese shrine, 神社 (jinjya) where the Gods are enshrined.


How Does the Wedding Unfold?

1.Entering into the Shinden 神殿 (shinden)

At first, Gagaku (雅楽) music is played. Gagaku music is a Japanese traditional classical music that has been performed at imperial courts for several centuries. The couple enters into the Shinden (神殿), the shrine building, lead by Kannushi, (神主) the head priest (or literal translation “the god master”), and Miko, (巫女) the shrine maidens who lead the ceremony, giving out instructions as to what to do at certain times during the ceremony.


2. Get the purification from the Kannushi, and the Kannushi pray for happiness for the couple to God.

3.San San Kudo ; 三三九度

This is ritualized drinking Sake by the couple and their families. Each of them sips Sake from 3 Japanese ceremonial Sake cup that is called Sakazuki, () and they take 3 sips from each Sakazuki. The reason why is because the number 3 is the lucky number in Japan. 


This tradition of drinking sake is used as a marital vow between the couple and with their families. But it’s not actually necessary to drink the sake, just bring it slightly closer to your lips 3 times is adequate enough as many people either don’t drink alcohol or don’t like the taste.

4. Exchange rings

Here, finally, the couples exchange their rings.

6. The couple says “I do.”

The couple read a wedding vow together to God.

7. Tamagushihouten;玉串奉奠 

This is another ceremonial vow to God. Tamagushi is a branch of a tree decorated with slips of Japanese white paper. The couple offers this branch of a tree to the God for adoration.


8. Drinking Sake With Families

Families sip sake from same Sakazuki Sake cups to make a vow for the fate of the 2 families.


During the wedding, there are lots of bows you would do, and you would see many Japanese traditional rituals and see the beauty of them.

What to Wear?

While the bride wears a wedding dress at a western style wedding at church, at a Shinzen-shiki ceremony, the bride wears a wedding Kimono with a beautiful veil or hood called shiromuku (白無垢).

As for the groom, he would wear a Hakama; which is guy’s formal kimono.


While traditional Japanese weddings might be a bit more complicated compared to Western weddings, but the most important thing is to enjoy the beauty of that special day!! 😉😍😊












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