Japan is a country rich in culture and tradition. I’d like to share a few traditions unique to Japan that can add a lot of character and atmosphere to an opening ceremony or product launch event.
Shinto Blessing Ceremony
This ceremony is not commonplace at events, however it is rich in meaning and adds a level of formality and respect to the occasion. It is most appropriate at a grand opening of a business with a newly constructed building or facility.
The Completion Ceremony is a formal event to express gratitude for the safely completed construction, and to wish for the safety and prosperity of the new building in the future.
Following the ancient style, the ceremony is traditionally believed to expel mischievous spirits.
When attendees arrive, they will be asked to rinse their hands in the traditional way so that they are clean and pure for the ceremony.
The priest will make offerings to the nature spirit using bows and claps and chants. The chant is a deep humming which everyone can participate in, led by the priest.
There will be a sake offering which is meant to sweeten up the evil spirits, keeping them from holding a grudge after being scared off later.
Kagami Biraki is a Japanese traditional ceremony that date backs over 300 years and literally translates to “Opening the Mirror”. It is associated with good luck in Japan and the round lid of the sake barrel represents harmony. Today, it is performed at weddings, sporting events (it is particularly popular in martial arts), opening ceremonies of new companies, and other significant events.
Kagami biraki used to be a samurai tradition back in the 15th century when the army Shogun ordered a barrel of sake before an important battle. The battle was successful so the custom of ordering sake barrels for good luck became popular. In addition to special events kagami biraki ceremonies take place in January to welcome the New Year.
During the kagami biraki ceremony, the lid of the sake barrel is opened using a kizuchi (wooden mallet). Then, a hishaku (wooden ladle) is used to fill the masu cups with sake from the barrel. Masu is a unique-looking wooden cup which is square in shape and was traditionally used to measure rice. The masu are made from Japanese Cypress or “hinoki”. When you drink from it, you’ll taste the woody aroma.
As an added touch, you can custom order the masu for each event and can include your company name and logo which the attendees can take home as a keepsake for the event.
The atmosphere when doing kagami biraki is fun and lighthearted. People smile and laugh, as it is a moment of real celebration.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies are popular around the world, but in Japan they are very popular and add formality to any opening event – big or small.
In Japan, you will be presented white gloves and gold scissors for the occasion.
These are just a few Japanese ceremonies you can incorporate into your next event. There are also some fun options for entertainment that are uniquely Japanese. Look out for another blog post introducing traditional Japanese entertainment!