of Japanese Marriage
the age of aristocracy, Muko-iri
was the common marriage system in Japan. A bridegroom would nightly
visit his bride at her home. Only after the birth of a child or the
loss of his parents would be the bride be accepted as the wife in
the man's home. Among common people labour power was and essential
factor to maintain a family. A bridegroom would live with his
bride's family to offer his labour for a certain length of time. The
practice remains today in the system of adoption by which a man
becomes a member of another family by marriage.
the rise of "Bushi" warriors, the system of women marrying
into men's families called Yome-iri
was gradually adopted and widely accepted in the 14th century and
on. Under the feudal system marriages were often used as political
and diplomatic approaches to maintaining peace and unity among
feudal lords. Thus the personal will of men and women for marriage
was ignored in the face of family interests and the social
intercourse of unmarried persons was denied. Marriages came to be
arranged by and for families and the role of "Nakodo"
go-between became very important in Japan. Now this Yome-iri
system is quite common in Japan and you can find the traditional
procedure in the contemporary marriage.
Throughout history, Japanese marital systems had
gone through many changes along with changes in Japanese social
systems and conditions. The most important and historical change in
the Japanese marital system was brought about through the rise of "bushi"
warriors in the 13th and 14th centuries. The change from the age of
aristocracy to the age of the shoguns led to a change from the old
practice of �muko-iri� to the new practice of �yome-iri�. That is,
instead of the groom joining the bride�s family ("muko-iri"), the
bride would join the groom�s family ("yome-iri") after the birth of
a child or the loss of a parent.
You can see the additional photos of wedding kimonos and traditional
Japanese weddings in the
Japan Picture Gallery.
Under the feudal system, Japanese marriages were often used as political and
diplomatic means to maintain peace and unity among feudal lords. The
young men and women of the day did not have a say in choosing their
partners in marriage. Rather, a matchmaker would arrange marriages
on behalf of both families. Thus, the role of a "nakodo" (a
matchmaker) was established in Japan.
It is interesting to note that a young man had more say in choosing
his own bride during the age of aristocracy. A young man would
typically visit the young lady of his choice at her home. If the
young woman�s parents approve of their union, the young man would be
invited to a ceremony termed �tokoro-arawashi" and offered "mochi"
rice cakes. This ceremony was deemed to be the most important
function in ancient weddings among aristocrats.
Similarly among the common people, a young man would visit the
parents of the lady and asked her parents for her hands in marriage.
Labour played an essential role in life of the common people. Labour
practices vary from places. In certain areas of Japan, such as the
Tohoku area in the north, a groom would live with his bride's family
to offer his labour for a certain length of time. While in other
parts of the country such as the Izu Islands, a wife would work for
the family of her husband while her husband would offer his labour
to her family. It is worth noting that such labour arrangement is
still being practised to this day in marriages where the man is
adopted into the family of the bride upon marriage. A third and more
common family labour arrangement was for the groom and the bride to
offer their labour to their respective families. In such a case, the
husband would visit his wife nightly to maintain their union in