Tejime: Japanese Ceremonial Hand Clapping Culture

  • Japan has a traditional custom of ceremonial hand clapping performed at the end of a special event to bring a cheerful and lively closing.

    The hand clapping custom is called tejime (手締め), and it is typically performed at the conclusion of events such as festivals, celebrations, business meetings, auctions, or even drinking parties.

    Tejime vs Teuchi

    The ceremonious hand clapping name is different in some regions. In the Kanto area the custom is called tejime, in the Kansai area people prefer to call it teuchi. The word tejime is a simple version of “to close by clapping hands”. It is the shortened version of teuchi de shimeru (手打ちで 締める ). Teuchi means “to come to an agreement” and shimeru means “to tighten” (or in this case, “to close”). The purpose behind tejime is to pass the gratitude to the people who organized and managed the event. Tejime usually starts with a short speech, where the leader thanks everyone for coming and says the appropriate words. In some case, tejime can be led by the guest who received some special honor from the leader. Then this will be followed by the saying: それでは皆さん、お手を拝借 (Soredewa minasan, o te o haishaku ) with meanings “Everyone, please get your hands ready” then, “Yoh~ !”, and finally everyone claps a certain rhythm.

    Types of tejime

    Tejime seemed to have several different forms. The first one is itchō-jime, where you only have to do a single clap. The next one is ippon-jime, where you have three sets of three claps and one final clap (3-3-3-1). The pattern of 3-3-3-1 is known as the Edo Ippon Tejime, and performed in the Edo period as the expression of happiness and positivity. And the last one is sanbon-jime, where you do three sets of ippon-jime (3-3-3-1, 3-3-3-1, 3-3-3-1). There are reasons for doing it three times, the first time would be for the gratitude to the host for his or her hard work, the second time would be to thank the guests for coming, and the third is to express gratitude for the successful event.

    To understand the meaning and use of tejime, especially when you experience it after the party, it could be thought of as “The party is generally over, so you could stay a little bit longer or you can go home.” I personally like this tejime ritual because it is comforting to know that the event is officially over. There is no need to say to worry about telling people “I think I have to go now”, you can just go home after enjoying the good time you just had.

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