By Jamie Rivera Published 01/20/2018 07:09:00 | Views: 209

Japan has just about every extreme you could imagine. From Zen temples and rural countryside to high-tech marvels and advancements, Japan's formality and traditions remain ever-present. Discover what some of these traditions are and see how you can weave them into your modern day wedding.

Pre-Wedding Traditions
Small, boxed cakes with the Japanese symbol of double happiness are sent to guests. The bride’s family hosts a yuino, a formal engagement party, to bring the two families together.

The ceremony is decorated with orange trees, a mythical beast (to represent a wise man), fans, a goose and gander (because the two birds mate for life), and white orchids or purple flowers. The groom crushes a raw egg either as a sign of fertility or how fragile life and love can be. In the san-san-kudo, the bride and groom sip sake from cups, symbolizing their vows. (If it’s a Western or Buddhist ceremony, the sake ritual happens at the reception). In san-dan-kudo, three sake cups are stacked on top of each other. The groom takes three sips from each cup, the bride sips after him, and then they offer the cups to the groom’s father, mother, bride’s father, and bride’s mother.

Brides wear white face makeup, red lips, and the traditional kimono with layers of white silk (white signifies “new beginning” in Japan). Over her head, the bride wears two white cloths called the tsunokakushi, to cover the “horns of jealousy” and a white veil to cover her face. At the reception, the bride changes from her wedding garb into an irouchikake, a silver, gold, white, and red kimono. She changes again near the end of the reception to a furisode, a wide-sleeved kimono in a rich plum or deep blue color. The groom wears a hakama (pleated skirt) with a basic black silk kimono emblazoned with the family crest and a haori (coat, also embroidered with the family crest).

Reception Rituals
The bride and groom light a candle at every table to share their warmth and light with their guests. The reception décor includes butterflies, cranes and ikebana (Japanese floral arrangements representing earth, heavens, and people). Bamboo and bonsai trees are also used to recreate the ambiance of a Japanese garden. Samisen (stringed instruments) and Japanese drums provide traditional music. Wedding favors for the guests range from fine china to kohaku manjyu (stuffed pastry buns). Shukuji (toasts from guests and family) continue throughout the reception.

Food, Drink & Toasts
Spiritual nourishment is found in a balance of red and white dishes; red lobster and white rice is a favorite. Other dishes whose names suggest good are served such as tai (lucky) fish, clams (since the shells are hinged together for unity), plums (purple is the color of love), and roe eggs (for fertility). In addition to the cake, the newlyweds may cut into komochi manjyu (sweet buns filled with a bean paste), presented in five rainbow colors, signifying the couple’s hope for many children.

Starting Your Lives Together
Children and guests hold a straw rope to prevent the newlyweds from leaving the reception and must be paid a ransom to be set free.

Tips and Ideas for Incorporating Traditions Into Your Modern-Day Wedding 
* You may not have access to orange trees, but you can give way to tradition by using oranges as décor. Think fruity centerpieces, for example!
* Red and white are prevalent themes in Japanese weddings. While you may not want white face and red lipstick, the colors are still beautiful and, in Western culture, evoke the feeling of love -- perfect for a wedding! Let these hues guide your color palette.

By Jamie Rivera 01/20/2018 07:09:00

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