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Wedding Traditions

Japanese customs

Traditional Japanese wedding customs (shinzen shiki) have given way to the "Western Style Wedding" in recent years. The Japanese have long tried to emulate and improve upon Western tradition. To that end, a Japanese western style wedding is held in a chapel, either in a simple or elaborate ceremony, often at a chapel within a hotel. Typically, much like in Western culture, the bride, or shinpu, and groom, or shinro, get their own changing rooms within the chapel, as does the bride's father and any other important guest who requires such a room. There is also a room to hold the reception afterwards.

A traditional Japanese wedding ceremonyBefore the ceremony, there is a rehearsal. Often during this rehearsal, the bride's mother lowers the veil for her daughter, signifying the last act that a mother can do for her daughter, before giving her away. The father of the bride, much like in Western culture, walks the bride down the aisle to her awaiting groom.

After the rehearsal comes the procession. The wedding celebrant will often wear a wedding cross, or cana, a cross with two interlocking wedding rings attached, which symbolize a couple's commitment to sharing a life together in the bonds of holy matrimony. The wedding celebrant gives a brief welcome and an introductory speech before announcing the bride's entrance. The procession ends with the groom bowing to the bride's father. The father bows in return.

The service, or kekkon shiki, then starts. The service is given either in Japanese or English, or, in some cases, a mix of both. It follows a traditional Protestant ceremony, relaxed and not overtly religious. The opening hymn is usually the Japanese version of What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Part of 1 Corinthians 13 is read from the Bible. After the reading, there is a prayer and a short message, explaining the sanctity of the wedding vows, or seiyaku. The bride and groom share their vows and exchange rings. The chapel register is signed and the new couple is announced. This is often followed by the traditional wedding kiss. The service concludes with another hymn and a benediction.


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