In Japanese culture, there are multiple ceremonial occasions and rites of passage. As in most other cultures, weddings and funerals are the largest ceremonial events. Additionally, families visit shrines or temples when their children turn certain ages to wish for good fortune. Twenty-year-old people attend a ceremony held by local authorities to celebrate their coming-of-the-age. In modern times, these ceremonial events have lost most of the religious connotations, but they still represent important commemorations. The ceremony businesses built around these events are highly commercialized. For most Japanese, the traditional attire Kimono is no longer for daily life but carries significant symbolic value in ceremonial occasions. The Kimono industry is, therefore, strongly dependent on the service of cultural events for their business portfolio. Similarly, the commercial photo industry is also mainly focused on ceremonial occasions.
Wedding ceremony industry
Among the ceremonial service-related industries in Japan, the market for wedding and related businesses is one of the largest, reaching a total revenue of about 2.4 trillion Japanese yen in 2019. Traditionally, Japanese wedding ceremonies were held at home. After the westernization movement in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and influences of Christian-style weddings, citizens started to hold a wedding ceremony in shrines and a reception in a hotel. The industry flourished from the 1970s during the period of rapid economic growth in the country. Weddings transformed into one-day events, and wedding planners, as well as large wedding-specialized banquet halls, became a standard in the industry. In the last decade, however, the number of marriage registrations declined, and consequently, the industry is experiencing stagnation. Economic downturn led to many bridal couples cutting costs and holding no ceremony and/or reception. At the same time, the average expenses of couples that do decide on a wedding celebration are decreasing, especially in the specialized sector of guest house weddings. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a strong negative influence on the entire industry.
Funeral service industry
The funeral service industry is one of the main growth sectors in Japan due to a rapidly aging society, with the total sales amounting to around 592 billion Japanese yen in 2019. Central rituals such as cremation and the collection of bones were introduced during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). In modern times, most funerals are commemorated after Buddhist customs. In addition to traditional funerals with a wake and a ceremony, several new types of smaller-scale funerals are becoming more common. As a result, the average spending per service has been decreasing.
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