History & Culture

Japanese wedding ceremony 日本の結婚式




These days, the number of wedding ceremonies at shrines is increasing instead of the ones at hotels.

The person who implements the Shinto ceremony is 16.7%, almost doubling since six years ago

From the survey and research organization of Recruit Co., Ltd. Bridal Research Institute Zexy marriage trend survey (2010)




On a good day in autumn, there was a couple headed for the wedding ceremony at Saruka Shrine in Hirakawa city.

The bride was wearing a pure white garment with a white hood, and the groom wore Japanese traditional kimono called haori-hakama which is a kind of jacket and pants.




The bride is wearing a kaiken (a sword), a hakoseko (a cosmetic case) and a fan on her chest.

In the past, women in a samurai family had a dagger for self-defense. It is said that bringing a sword during wedding ceremonies became a tradition from that reason. Today, the reason of self-defense has changed to the meaning of an amulet.

Hakoseko is a cosmetic case containing some makeup accessories. In the Edo period, however, only a few limited women of the upper class were allowed to have it. It is said that the admiration for the upper class of the common people is reflected in the bridal gown.


When the time comes, a shrine maiden, bride, bridegroom, relatives and friends head to the shrine by walking on the approach path.

The sound of gravel resonates solemnly.



In the hall of worship, the bride and the bridegroom take the center place, and their relatives are lined up on the both sides.

From the side of god, the groom is on the left and the bride is on the right. The left side is treated as the seat of honor in Japanese customs.



They offer rice, sake, water, salt, meat, seafood and things that god is pleased with onto the shrine.

Before beginning marriage ceremony, they perform a ritual of repairing to purify. After the participants have been cleanse, we welcome god again and the ceremony begins.




本来は三段に重ねられた盃を上から順番にひとつの盃で交互に三回、合計九回いただくことから三三九度と言われるようになった。 日本では、陰陽の3・5・9等奇数を縁起の良い数字とする。

The shrine maiden declares to tell god the purpose, contents and prayers of the ritual. He reports marriage to god.

Next is about “san-san-ku-do” that is a ritual of marriage for a couple by exchanging of nuptial cups.

Bride and groom exchange cups. There are priestesses who give this intervention. It is thought that the power of god dwell in a decanter that had been offering to the shrine.

Three cups are piled for the couple and they exchange three times per cup, totally nine times. The name of “san-san-ku-do” comes from this ceremony, that directly means “three-three-nine times” in English.

In Japan, 3, 5 or 9 in Yin and Yang of odd numbers are known as auspicious figures.


They play the oath (words of oath) for living together as a couple after the ritual of exchanging nuptial cups is over.


The oath is different from a celebration, and contemporary words are used. After that, they dedicate branches of Sakaki (Cleyera japonica) in the sense that they pledge to vow in their minds.


In Japan, since ancient times, they cherish the connection between the houses rather than marriage between individuals. At the end of the ceremony, these families ask for god of sake that all the relatives of the two families have poured the sacred sake and make friendship with each other’s family.



When all the ceremonies are over entirely, they worship god who blessed the marriage of the bride and groom, and the ceremony ends.

Japanese traditional wedding is performed like the above.


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