Your Japanese Wedding Dress - Planning the Ceremony and Choosing the Attributes

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What do you appreciate most about a Japanese wedding dress and the according ceremony style?

Shinto, the top Japanese religion, embraces all cultures and many other religions.  In fact, most people who practice Shinto incorporate aspects of Buddhism and even Christianity into their rituals. 

So a Japanese wedding makes wonderful sense for a couple who wants to blend their cultural beliefs into the new family they are creating!

The word Shinto came from the Chinese approximately 2,500 years ago, from characters that meant "The Way of the Gods."  The Japanese Imperial family adapted Shinto beliefs in the eighth century, and for hundreds of years the Japanese people appreciated the spirituality of all things natural. 

Purification makes up a huge part of Shinto rituals, and it will be a part of your wedding.  Many brides wear white make-up to show their purity.  And because Shinto incorporates water purification into many of its ceremonies, you can feature a special effects water display (framed by plenty of luscious flora, of course) or misting fountains with colorful lights at your wedding or reception venue.

The White Wedding Kimono

To celebrate her marriage Japanese style, the bride wears a beautiful white kimono. This traditional costume is known as the shiro-maku because it is white (shiro) and pure (maku). 

It became stylish during the Edo period, which extended from the 17th century into the mid-1800s.  If you have heard of the Shogunate culture, then you know of Edo. 

This Japanese wedding dress honors the purity and spirituality of the marriage.  The material should be thick, creamy, white brocade.  It can be lavishly embroidered, but it must be all white. 

It will reach to the floor, and the bride will wear white stockings and white sandals.   

The Hair and Headpiece...

As part of the ceremonial preparation, the bride's hair is prepared in a Bunkin-Takashimada.  This is a style that draws the bride's hair away from the face and fastens it high on the crown in a bun.  Most people associate it with the look of geishas, but keep in mind that geishas are entertainers -very much unlike the demure, pure bride! 

On top of her hair, the bride wears a head-covering called a tsunokakushi.  It generally has an opening in the middle that allows the bun to rise from it.  But the remainder of this headdress is formed in a rectangle, made of white silk, and it's created to hide the "horns of jealousy" that every bride must certainly develop because she is so jealous of the groom's wonderful mother! 

The tsunokakushi also has a second purpose:  It demonstrates the bride's promise to become an obedient wife, gentle in the ways of Shinto, who will always honor her husband.

Several trinkets will adorn the bride with her Japanese wedding dress as she walks to meet her husband:   

  • Kanzashi are the two-pronged combs that go into the bride's hair. While they can be made of wood or silver, on the wedding day they should be made of gold. 

  • The hakoseko is a small clutch that the bride carries, usually ornately decorated.

  • A kaiken is a small dagger-a tiny feminized version of the samurai sword-that the bride carries for good luck.

  • To capture all the happiness in her pathway, the bride wears an open fan in the obi of her kimono. 

As she walks to meet her groom, soft music plays -traditionally flutes.

The Shinto priest blesses and purifies the couple, and the bride and groom share saki after the vows.

The fathers of the bride and groom should take this opportunity to introduce the families to one another.

Immediately after the ceremony, the bride dons another Japanese wedding dress on top of the white one. This second one is silk, elaborately decorated, festive, and brightly colored -usually red. Often the bride receives this Japanese wedding dress from her mother or another relative.

Of course, the more Japanese wedding dresses the merrier -way back during the Edo period, the bride's many costumes symbolized the family's wealth and prestige. Today's Japanese bride will wear at least one more gown for the reception.

Because the Shinto culture accepts and includes so many other cultures, the reception can blend many elements of Western culture.

The time has finally come for the bride to remove the Japanese wedding dress and put on a special gown that she has chosen -not for culture or symbolism, but just to accent her beauty and features.

In fact, most brides choose a Western-style dress as an expression of character and personality for this last part of a romantic, wonderful wedding day.

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