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Traditional Japanese Wedding Rites

  • Nuptial Cups 三三九度 (San-san-kudo)

    Three-by-Three Exchange
    of Nuptial Cups

    Nuptial Cups 三三九度 (San-san-kudo)


    Drinking from the same cup symbolizes a union of souls and sealing of an eternal oath. This custom originated from the warrior class etiquette of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). The significance of the three cups is:

    Small Cup = past: an offering of gratitude to the couple’s ancestors for allowing their chance meeting
    Medium Cup = present: the couple binds their energies now to share a long life
    Large Cup = future: a wish for protection and tranquility as one household from now on
    With the three drinks from all the nuptial cups, the couple exchanges the sake of divine offerings.

  • Sacred leaf 玉串 (Tamagushi)

    Sacred Leaf

    Sacred leaf 玉串 (Tamagushi)


    The offering of the sakaki branch, a divinely inhabited tree that remains lush and green the whole year round, is a ritual to consecrate the pure sincerity of the couple's innermost feelings.

  • Fan Exchange 扇子納め (Sensu Osame)

    Fan Exchange

    Fan Exchange 扇子納め (Sensu Osame)

    Sensu Osame

    The ritual of exchanging folding fans symbolizes the confirmation of each partner's desire to be wed. In the past, this was practiced to confirm and proclaim a couple’s engagement.

  • Tying of the Cords 結い紐 (Yuihimo)

    Tying of the Cords

    Tying of the Cords 結い紐 (Yuihimo)


    Musubi, the ceremonial tying of red yarn between both partners’ little fingers, signifies “the unseen power which creates new things” and is rooted in East Asian folklore, which holds that an ethereal red string of fate joins the little fingers of fated lovers from birth, In other words, two people do not simply meet, but rather from their union, something wholly new is woven. (“Musubi” means “to tie together.”)

  • Opening of the Cask 鏡割り (Kagamiwari)

    Opening of the Cask

    Opening of the Cask 鏡割り (Kagamiwari)

    Opening of the Cask

    The unsealing of the sake cask is a ritual that demonstrates how a couple unlocks their shared destiny together and with their own hands. Kagamiwari is said to have begun as an ancient practice, where warriors leaving for the front lines would offer purified sake to the gods as a prayer for certain victory. After your ceremony’s kagamiwari, the sake inside is presented to your guests.

  • Shinto Prayers 祝詞 (Norito)

    Shinto Prayers

    Shinto Prayers 祝詞 (Norito)


    As the priest recites this wedding prayer, he is declaring the union to the Shinto gods and requesting their protection for the couple.

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