Holidays & Special Occasions

Japanese American Wedding Traditions

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?”

It’s customary for all new brides to abide by the “old, new, borrowed, and blue” wedding tradition, before strolling down the aisle toward marital bliss. Other traditional customs include the tossing of the bouquet and garter, throwing rice onto the getaway car, and saving the top tier of a wedding cake for the 1st year anniversary.

Japanese American Sansei and Yonsei have not only embraced these American traditions, but have also adopted several Japan-influenced customs into their own wedding celebrations. If you’ve been to a Japanese American wedding recently, you’ll no doubt recognize some of the traditions below:

  • Sake Sharing Ceremony – a traditional custom in Japan, most Japanese Americans include the “san-san-kudo” sake sharing tradition, which translates to “three sets of three sips equal nine.” Using three flat sake cups stacked atop one another, the bride and groom take three sips each from the cups. Next their parents also take sips (for a total of nine), cementing the bond between the families.

  • Honoring the Parents – Japanese weddings usually take some time to acknowledge the parents of the bride and groom. In some weddings, the couple offers bouquets of flowers, a toast, or a personal letter of love and thanks.

  • 1,001 cranes – the crane is a symbol of longevity and prosperity in Japanese culture. For the bride and her family, it is a long-standing custom to fold 1,001 (gold) origami cranes to bring good luck, good fortune, longevity, fidelity, and peace to the marriage.

  • Traditional toast – another Japanese American tradition is the “banzai” toast. Best to have your loudest, and most outgoing relative lead the way by toasting “banzai!” three times (enthusiastically followed each time by the guests) to the bride and groom.

  • Gifts for the Guests – wedding “favors” are a Japanese American tradition and standard. Japanese chopsticks, folding fans, and sake cups are just a sampling of Japanese heritage gifts that are offered to wedding guests.

  • If you’re looking for ways to incorporate your Japanese heritage into your wedding festivities and gifts, check out the following selections below, which provide some great ideas on how to add Japanese customs to your celebrations.

    June 2005

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