I18n Guy, your I18n advisor

Japanese Wedding (神前式)

Japanese weddings have imported many western wedding customs as you will see below. Here is my good friend Takahashi "Taka" Nakano (or in Japanese with family name first, Nakano Takahashi - 中野 貴志) marrying the beautiful Akiko (亜希子) in Japan 2002-09-14. Taka is an excellent software engineer who lived and worked in the U.S. to help on a Japanization project. Taka and Akiko made their wedding from a mix of Western, Shinto, and Buddhist styles. Western style is most popular today, but women like to wear the Japanese dress at the party, saying "this is my first and last chance, so I want to"... Akiko wore a Western wedding dress for ceremony, then 1 Japanese dress and 2 Western dresses (white wedding dress and color dress) for the party. (You don't want to know what the clothing cost to rent for 2 days. Very expensive.)

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Here are some sources of information on Japanese wedding customs:
Western Style Wedding in Japan   or the Japanese Version (日本語)
JP Net (Japanese Language and Culture Network) has a nice site: History of the Kimono

Kyoto Kimono has some beautiful kimonos for sale: Vintage Wedding Kimonos
Western weddings in Japan (Christian Science Monitor)

To see an interesting western wedding ritual, visit Catching the Bouquet.

Taka and Akiko in traditional costume. Here are Taka and Akiko in traditional Shinto costume.
Akiko's press conference

The whole time Taka was working with us in the U.S., he was telling us about all of his many, many girl friends left behind in Japan. He said many girls were crying when he left for the U.S.

Immediately, after the marriage ceremony, Akiko held a press conference. This may not be an exact translation, but I think basically she said: "OK girls, that's it. He's mine now. Back off!".

That night, the many night spots in Roppongi were quiet, as the Japanese girls stayed home and mourned their loss of Taka.

OK, here is the true story of this picture according to Taka. According to tradition, the mother takes her daughter to the husband's house to be married. During the party, Akiko's mother took her to the front main table in respect of the tradition.

The Nakanos and parents. Here is a family photo. The mothers are wearing traditional kimonos.
The Nakanos leaving the service. Here are Mr. and Mrs. Nakano after the ceremony with friends and family throwing flower petals. They have changed into western style wedding clothing: Tuxedo and white wedding dress. Rice throwing is still very popular but the Nakanos opted for the flower shower.
The cutting of the cake. Here they are cutting the wedding cake.
Apparently we are about to weld something. Well this picture puzzled me. Maybe it is a new tradition I don't know about.
  1. Taka seems to be holding an acetylene torch. Perhaps instead of a wedding photo, Taka sent me a welding photo.
  2. Akiko is already wearing her third outfit. Perhaps Taka has decided to limit shopping expenses and is about to cut her credit cards in half with the torch.
  3. Maybe Taka is trying to keep the in-laws at a safe distance.

Taka says this is a "candle service". The bride and groom walk around and light a candle on each table to share their happiness with all of their guests. Taka thought it was an American tradition. I hadn't heard of it before. Some say it is a European custom: "I saw it at several weddings growing up and my family is from the British Isles." Various others have written me to say the candles are to honor the guests.