Japanese Translation Service

Professional Translation Services for the Japanese Language

Interesting Reading: Translation Blog

Customs and Traditions

Tea Ceremonies

One of the most familiar elements of Japanese culture is the tea ceremony. Known around the world as a part of Japanese tradition, the tea ceremony involves intricate preparation, presentation and a keen remembrance of Japanese history. The tea ceremony begins with powdered green tea (also known as chado or chanoyu, in Japanese). Zen Buddhism gave root to the practice of the tea ceremony. There are also two types of tea ceremonies, one that is casual and simplistic involving the service of tea as a gesture of hospitality, and the other that is more formal usually served with a full-course meal.

Tea was most likely brought to Japan originally by a Buddhist monk by the name of Eichu, in the 9th century, who had returned from China. Once the tea was brought over, and served to the current emperor, the emperor ordered the cultivation of tea plantations in the Kinki region of Japan.

Tea had been around for more than a thousand years in China, both for consumption and for medicinal uses. The influence of Zen Buddha in that country had proliferated the status of tea. But around the end of the 12th century in Japan, the method of preparing tea called “tencha” (in which the powdered tea is placed in a bowl, hot water is poured into the bowl and the tea and hot water whipped together) was introduced by another Japanese monk, returning from China. This monk, Eisai, also brought back with him tea seeds. These tea seeds were known to produce the highest quality of tea in all of Japan. Buddhists monasteries were the first to use the powdered green tea in their religious ceremonies. During the 13th century, when the Kamakura Shogunate ruled in Japan, and the samurai warrior class ruled, tea became a symbol of status among the warriors.

Three centuries later, tea was known in all levels of society in Japan. The main components of the tea ceremony involve incorporation of the principles of harmony, respect, tranquility and purity. These are principles that are still imperative to the tea ceremony today.

When Western missionaries, Jesuits, arrived from Europe, they quickly noticed and acquired an admiration for the tea practices of the Japanese. However, the Japanese ruler Tokygawa Ieyasu forced Westerners (and the Jesuits) out of Japan out of fear that they would commence attacks. Once forced out, it was almost 300 years before Westerners were allowed back into Japan, and it took approximately an additional 100 years before Westerners would exhibit an interest in tea practices again.

Over the centuries, the venue for the tea ceremony has changed, and now almost anywhere is considered appropriate for a tea ceremony. Tea rooms designed precisely for the purpose of serving the tea “wabi” style (meaning refined taste) are usually small with small floor mats. Rooms larger than 4.5 mats may be used for tea ceremony, or for larger numbers of guests. However, these rooms are often used for other multi-purposes uses, not exclusively the tea ceremony.

The tea ceremony also utilizes the changes of season in their celebration. The tea ceremony recognizes two main seasons: the sunken hearth season, which consists of the colder months and the brazier season, which refers to the warmer months. During each season, there are variations in the utensils used, the “temae” performed (the tea making ceremony), and other equipment used. The way that the floor mats are used and arranged also varies depending upon the season.

There are also two different ways of preparing the tea leaves for the tea ceremony. The two ways are thin and thick. The highest quality tea leaves are used in preparing the thick tea. Thin tea and thick tea are also served in different ways. Thin tea is served to each guest in an individual bowl. Thick tea is served in one bowl, passed and shared among guests.

Marriage Customs

Ancient Japanese legend holds that all creation began with the union of a male and female god. The legend claims that the two gods were joined in marriage and walked over a rainbow bridge from the clouds, creating the island of Japan, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies are held at Shinto shrines. Some couples choose a more modern approach, and a marriage ceremony that is held in a reception hall, or a small chapel. In either case, the marriage is the result of one of two unions: a love marriage, or an arranged marriage. While the arranged marriage idea has been around for centuries, it still has a place among traditional Japanese families who incorporate the arranged part of a marriage with the ‘love’ marriage. Couples today indicate that they may have had a degree of arrangement in finding their mate, but that they also found a ‘love match.’

Prior to the 20th century, when many couples entered into the arranged marriages, the formal interview for a man to get to know a woman was called the “mi-ai,’ and was arranged by the couples’ parents or other third-party. Once the families agreed upon the marriage, the families would meet and have a formal dinner and traditional Japanese gifts were exchanged. Some of the gifts represented virtue, fertility, happiness or good fortune. The go-betweens (or third party involved in the arrangement of the marriage) also are invited to share in a celebratory drink, exchanged with the brides’ parents.

In a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, the bride wears an all-white kimono or dress. This dates back as far as the Edo period, and the traditions of the brides of the samurai. White, in the case of the marriage ceremony, symbolizes both a beginning and an end. The bride is no longer a member of her father’s family, and so there is a ‘death’ to that family but a beginning of a new family. The bride also usually wears her hair up, in a bun, and it is secured with combs. A white veil, cloth or hood covers the brides head, and the bride’s face is ‘painted’ white. The bride, after the ceremony is complete, changes her outfit at least once into various colored robes that signify her youth and status.

The groom usually wears a black kimono, with his family crest in five separate places on the robe. Many families keep their wedding kimonos from generation to generation, so it is not uncommon to see a groom wearing the same kimono that his father and grandfather wore. Rental of these types of kimonos can cost up to $1,600.

During the ceremony, the bride and grooms’ families sit facing each other, rather than facing the bride and groom. One of the usual highlights of the traditional ceremony, is the drinking of nine cups of sake. This is done to signify the bond between the bride and groom, but also the bond between the families. During the wedding reception, the wedding party and their guests participate in several types of games, skits and karaoke. It is an expectation of any guest that they will contribute “goshugi” (money), in an adorned envelope, to the bride and groom.

A traditional marriage in Japan must be registered with the government at a municipal office. Any type of religious ceremony will not be recognized unless the couple registers with the Japanese government. Interestingly enough, Japan has just one quarter of the amount of divorces that the United States has. Just 3 percent of the Japanese people are unmarried, but the age at which people are marrying is rising to the mid-thirties for men, and late twenties for women.

Languages
Acadian French | Accented English | African French | Afrikaans | Albanian | Amharic | Angolan French | Angolan Portuguese | Algerian Arabic | Algerian Arabic | Arabic Bahrain | Arabic | Egyptian Arabic | Jordanian Arabic | Arabic Lebanaon | Moroccan Arabic | Arabic Oman | Palestinian Arabic | Arabic Qatar | Saudi Arabian Arabic | Syrian Arabic | Tunisian Arabic | Arabic (UAE) | Armenian | Assamese | Azerbaijani | Azeri | Bambara | Basque | Bemba | Bengali | Berber | Bosnian | Bulgarian | Burmese | Burundi | Cajun French | Cambodian | Cantonese (Guangdong) | Catalan | Cebuano | Chin | Cantonese (China) | Mandarin | Traditional Mandarin | Chinese (Singapore) | Chinese (Taiwan) | Chuukese | Croatian | Czech | Dagbani | Danish | Dari | Dinka | Dutch | Dzongkha | English | African English | Australian English | British English... | Canadian English | Indian English | Irish English | New Zealand English | Scottish English | South African English | American English | Estonian | Ewe | Fante | Farsi | Finnish | Flemish | French Belgian | Canadian French | French Congo | French | Moroccan French | Swiss French | Tunisian French | Fula | Ga | Galician | Garo | Georgian | Austrian German | German | Swiss German | Greek | Greek Cyprus | Guarani | Gujarati | Haitian Creole | Hausa | Hawaiian | Hebrew | Hindi | Hmong | Hungarian | Icelandic | Igbo | Ilocano | Indonesian | Italian | Swiss Italian | Jamaican | Japanese | Kannada | Karen | Kashmiri | Kazakh | Khasi | Khmer | Kinyarwanda | Kirundi | Konkani | Korean | Krio | Kurdish | Kyrgyz | Laotian | Latvian | Lebanese | Lingala Congo | Lithuanian | Luganda | Luxembourgish | Maasai | Macedonian | Malagasy | Malay | Malayalam | Maltese | Manipuri | Maori | Marathi | Marshallese | Mende | Mizo | Mongolian | Nagamese | Navajo | Ndebele | Nepali | Nigerian Pidgin | Norwegian | Nuer | Oriya | Oromo | Papiamento | Papiamentu | Pashto | Polish | Angolan Portuguese | Brazilian Portuguese | European Portuguese | Portuguese Mozambique | Punjabi | Rohingya | Romanian | Russian | Rwanda | Rwandan | Serbian | Sesotho | Shona | Sinhala | Slovak | Slovenian | Somali | Sotho | Spanish | Argentinian Spanish | Chilean Spanish | Colombian Spanish | Costa Rican Spanish | Cuban Spanish | Dominican Republic Spanish | Ecuadorian Spanish | Salvadorian Spanish | Guatemalan Spanish | Spanish Honduras | Mexican Spanish | Neutral Spanish | Paraguayan Spanish | Peruvian Spanish | Puerto Rican Spanish | Spanish (Spain) | Uruguayan Spanish | Venezuelan Spanish | Swahili | Swazi | Swedish | Tagalog | Taiwanese | Tajik | Tamazight | Tamil | Telugu | Temne | Thai | Tibetan | Tigrinya | Tsonga | Tswana | Turkish | Turkish Cyprus | Twi | Tz'utujil | Ukrainian | Urdu | Uzbek | North Vietnamese | South Vietnamese | Welsh | Wolof | Xhosa | Yiddish | Yoruba | ZuluShow more [+]
Voice Talents
Acadian French Speakers | Accented English Speakers | African French Speakers | Afrikaans Speakers | Albanian Speakers | Amharic Speakers | Angolan Portuguese Speakers | Algerian Arabic Speakers | Arabic Bahrain Speakers | Arabic Speakers | Egyptian Arabic Speakers | Jordanian Arabic Speakers | Arabic Lebanaon Speakers | Moroccan Arabic Speakers | Arabic Oman Speakers | Palestinian Arabic Speakers | Arabic Qatar Speakers | Saudi Arabian Arabic Speakers | Syrian Arabic Speakers | Tunisian Arabic Speakers | Arabic (UAE) Speakers | Armenian Speakers | Assamese Speakers | Azeri Speakers | Bambara Speakers | Basque Speakers | Bemba Speakers | Bengali Speakers | Bosnian Speakers | Bulgarian Speakers | Burmese Speakers | Cajun French Speakers | Cambodian Speakers | Cantonese (Guangdong) Speakers | Catalan Speakers | Chin Speakers | Cantonese (China) Speakers | Mandarin Speakers | Traditional Mandarin Speakers | Chinese (Singapore) Speakers... | Chinese (Taiwan) Speakers | Chuukese Speakers | Croatian Speakers | Czech Speakers | Dagbani Speakers | Danish Speakers | Dari Speakers | Dinka Speakers | Dutch Speakers | Dzongkha Speakers | African English Speakers | Australian English Speakers | British English Speakers | Canadian English Speakers | Indian English Speakers | Irish English Speakers | New Zealand English Speakers | Scottish English Speakers | South African English Speakers | American English Speakers | Estonian Speakers | Ewe Speakers | Farsi Speakers | Finnish Speakers | Flemish Speakers | French Belgian Speakers | Canadian French Speakers | French Congo Speakers | French Speakers | Moroccan French Speakers | Swiss French Speakers | Tunisian French Speakers | Ga Speakers | Galician Speakers | Georgian Speakers | Austrian German Speakers | German Speakers | Swiss German Speakers | Greek Speakers | Gujarati Speakers | Haitian Creole Speakers | Hausa Speakers | Hawaiian Speakers | Hebrew Speakers | Hindi Speakers | Hmong Speakers | Hungarian Speakers | Icelandic Speakers | Igbo Speakers | Ilocano Speakers | Indonesian Speakers | Italian Speakers | Swiss Italian Speakers | Jamaican Speakers | Japanese Speakers | Kannada Speakers | Karen Speakers | Kashmiri Speakers | Kazakh Speakers | Khasi Speakers | Khmer Speakers | Kinyarwanda Speakers | Kirundi Speakers | Konkani Speakers | Korean Speakers | Krio Speakers | Kurdish Speakers | Kyrgyz Speakers | Laotian Speakers | Latvian Speakers | Lebanese Speakers | Lingala Congo Speakers | Lithuanian Speakers | Luxembourgish Speakers | Macedonian Speakers | Malagasy Speakers | Malay Speakers | Malayalam Speakers | Maltese Speakers | Manipuri Speakers | Maori Speakers | Marathi Speakers | Marshallese Speakers | Mizo Speakers | Mongolian Speakers | Nagamese Speakers | Navajo Speakers | Nepali Speakers | Nigerian Pidgin Speakers | Norwegian Speakers | Nuer Speakers | Oriya Speakers | Oromo Speakers | Papiamento Speakers | Pashto Speakers | Polish Speakers | Angolan Portuguese Speakers | Brazilian Portuguese Speakers | European Portuguese Speakers | Portuguese Mozambique Speakers | Punjabi Speakers | Rohingya Speakers | Romanian Speakers | Russian Speakers | Serbian Speakers | Sesotho Speakers | Shona Speakers | Sinhala Speakers | Slovak Speakers | Slovenian Speakers | Somali Speakers | Sotho Speakers | Argentinian Spanish Speakers | Chilean Spanish Speakers | Colombian Spanish Speakers | Costa Rican Spanish Speakers | Cuban Spanish Speakers | Dominican Republic Spanish Speakers | Ecuadorian Spanish Speakers | Salvadorian Spanish Speakers | Guatemalan Spanish Speakers | Mexican Spanish Speakers | Neutral Spanish Speakers | Puerto Rican Spanish Speakers | Spanish (Spain) Speakers | Uruguayan Spanish Speakers | Venezuelan Spanish Speakers | Swahili Speakers | Swedish Speakers | Tagalog Speakers | Taiwanese Speakers | Tajik Speakers | Tamazight Speakers | Tamil Speakers | Telugu Speakers | Thai Speakers | Tibetan Speakers | Tigrinya Speakers | Turkish Speakers | Twi Speakers | Ukrainian Speakers | Urdu Speakers | Uzbek Speakers | North Vietnamese Speakers | South Vietnamese Speakers | Welsh Speakers | Xhosa Speakers | Yoruba Speakers | Zulu SpeakersShow more [+]