Marriage proposals in Japan with Kanzashi


1. The history of marriage proposal

2. Free marriage proposal among ordinary people

3. Kanzashi recommended as a gift




<The history of marriage proposal in Japan>

What is used as a gift at the time of marriage proposal in your country?

In present-day Japan, the majority of men gives women an engagement ring, as in Western countries. However, this is comparatively a new tradition which was spread to the public along with the influx of the Western culture started by the opening of Japan in the Meiji period. So how did Japanese people propose before then?


It is said that the culture of marriage proposal in Japan started more than 1,700 years ago in the Tumulus period; a male calling the name of a female he liked in front of her house. After that, the way of marriage proposal has changed as the time changes.


In the Heian period, the culture of making a poem of love and exchanging it flourished mostly among the nobles. And for that, it was common to propose in a poem. By exchanging waka (31-syllable Japanese poem), they expressed their feelings and confirmed the will to marry each other.


Although after the Heian period, the custom of sending waka to the loved one died away. That is because the turbulent age arrived and people did not marry out of love any more, but married for political reasons to strengthen the connection between families.

Of course, there did exist marriage of convenience in the Heian period as well, but it was more common in the Warring States period. Since families decided who would marry whom, there was no need to make a marriage proposal any more.  



<Free marriage proposal among ordinary people>

In the Edo period, ordinary people developed a style to propose by exchanging poems or letters in the town of Edo. Ordinary people in this period learned how to read and write in temples, and could freely write love letters. Surprisingly, books to teach people how to write a love letter or a signature phrase were published as well. People in the Edo period must have been greatly interested in marriage proposal.  


On the other hand, the tradition to make a proposal by sending a gift was developed too. Other than letters and words, men started to give women a kanzashi as a proof of marriage.


The kanji (Chinese character) used for kanzashi  has a deep connection with the character “wife”. The kanji “妻:wife” comes from a picture of a woman with three kanzashi on her head, and three kanzashi was the formal way to decorate a woman’s head on a wedding day. For that, kanzashi was regarded as a super important marriage proposal item.



<Kanzashi recommended as a gift>

Kanzashi in the Edo period must have been treated as the way an engagement ring is treated in modern times. It meant very special for a man to send a kanzashi to a woman. Of course, it still feels great to receive a kanzashi as a gift even if it doesn’t mean so much as in the Edo period. Below are kanzashi suited as a gift.


■Kanzashi flower【medium】Japanese Plum

Japanese plum blooms in the cold and lets us know the arrival of spring. It is the flower often used for celebrations. Red plums symbolize elegance, and white plums symbolize dignity. Round petals and the volume of hana (flower) kanzashi gives out a soft impression. It is a hana kanzashi recommended for a pure and cute lady. 

~Product Details HERE~


■Kanzashi flower【medium】-Chrysanthemum with bells- pink –

Chrysanthemum is a flower which represents Japan, and is used for Japanese passports as well as the symbol of the Imperial Household. It is loved as a noble flower, and comes in a variety of types or colors. Red chrysanthemum’s flower language is “I love you”, and pink chrysanthemum’s flower language is “sweet dreams”. Romantic, isn’t it? It is a hana kanzashi suited for an elegant and passionate lady.  

~Product Details HERE~


■Kanzashi flower【small】-Bellflower –

Bellflower is one of the flowers which represent autumn in Japan. Star-shaped bluish purple flower is very attractive. It has been utilized as a kamon (family crest) motif for samurai families as well, for it was considered as an auspicious flower. The flower language of bellflower is “eternal love”. Why not give a hana kanzashi to your loved one to express your feelings?

~Product Details HERE~


■Kanzashi Silver -Chidori with Waves-

Chidori refers to small birds which live by the river or the ocean, and is a popular motif to be used for kimono or kamon. Namichidori (chidori with waves)” is the chidori pattern painted with waves or water, and is a symbol for matrimonial happiness and well-being of family members. Waves are the symbol of the society, and is used to signify “a married couple getting over troubles hand in hand”.

Send it to your wife on the anniversary, and the connection between you two will be deepened!

~Product Detail HERE~


■Kanzashi Silver -Oxalis-

Three hearts are so cute! This is a silver kanzashi with a kamon of oxalis as a motif. The flower language for oxalis is “shining heart”. Another flower language is “joy”, for in Spain and France, oxalis is called “hallelujah”. A silver kanzashi to be sent to a woman with a beautiful heart who can share joy in life with you.

~Product Details HERE~

A gorgeous kanzashi makes a woman look even more beautiful.

Why not give your loved one a kanzashi on a special day to express your love?