I was checking the definition of 堂 in my online dictionary (大辞林) when I came across the word 礼楽 in:

堂 → 客に接したり,礼楽を行なったりする所。== Hall → a place where you can interact with customers and perform ritual music.

Other definitions of 礼楽 are "etiquette and music" (super vague imho), "religion" and "ceremony"

Of all these, ritual music makes the most sense to me me (judging by the kanji). Is that correct? Am I missing something? Can you provide some example sentences for clarification?

  • 1
    Maybe this might help?
    – Shurim
    Apr 18, 2021 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


礼楽 is a fairly uncommon word. It's not very nice to use such a difficult word to explain the meaning of an easy word... Anyway, here its meaning is more of "ritual/ceremony and music" rather than "ritual music". So it's one of the compounds that just mean "A and B", such as 男女, 天地, 山河, 妻子, 文武 and 見聞. Music played by a 堂 doesn't have to be ritual music or religious music. For example, it's perfectly fine to hold a rock concert at 渋谷公会堂.

According to dictionaries, 礼楽 refers to the two elements traditionally considered important by Confucianists. It's rarely used outside the context of Chinese history. Here 礼 is not just etiquette but a broader concept that includes manners, ritual, courtesy, respect, etc. Dictionaries say 礼楽 can refer to human culture itself by extension.

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    I guess part of the reason for using such an obscure word is because the given definition is for the historical 堂 (synonymous with 表御殿), which they distinguish from the present-day 堂, for which they presumably have a different and more generic definition like 多くの人が集まる建物, if コトバンク is anything to go by.
    – goldbrick
    Apr 19, 2021 at 9:47
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    ^ Yup! Here’s the full 大辞林 entry: ①神仏をまつる建物。 ②多くの人の集まる建物。 ③客に接したり、礼楽を行なったりする所。正殿。 Apr 19, 2021 at 12:46
  • Ah, I thought the OP was referring to some other dictionary published by 三省堂 but of course it's 大辞林!
    – goldbrick
    Apr 19, 2021 at 12:56
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    Okay so this refers to something more historical than I thought. I hope the main part of my answer is fine, though.
    – naruto
    Apr 19, 2021 at 13:35

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