Japanese Weddings | Japanese Culture Guide
No matter where you go in the world, rituals, and celebrations revolving around marriage have commonalities and differences. Japan has its own customs, some of which are Shinto, some of which are Buddhist. And some weddings are commercialized versions of Hollywood-style church weddings. Let’s learn more about the culture surrounding weddings in Japan!
Timeline of Engagement and Marriage
If you are in a relationship with a Japanese person, you know it is serious once you meet the parents. This formal introduction is the start of the engagement for many couples in Japan. The wedding, called ‘kekkon shiki’ in Japanese, usually takes place within a year after getting engaged. The average age to get married in Japan is around 30 years old and is still climbing due to social and economic factors. The lack of full-time, permanent employment opportunities for all is one of the reasons for the declining marriage rate and therefore lower birthrate.
Ceremony of Japanese Weddings
The religious ceremony in which a couple commits to each other is usually either Shinto or Buddhist. Depending on the faith the partners are registered with, a shrine of temple is chosen. If they are each registered with a different faith, sometimes two ceremonies take place. The most curious thing about Japanese weddings is the Western-style ceremony that has also found its way to Japan. Many couples first do the solemn Shinto or Buddhist ceremony. And then they get married in a chapel with a ‘fake’ church minister, a white dress, and a big, expensive cake.
Needless to say, the wedding industry in Japan is huge and very lucrative. Where weddings used to take place at home in a special room with an altar that many family homes still have, nowadays weddings take place in a shrine or temple, and then the party often moves to a hotel or wedding company’s building where everything is catered by the wedding organizers.
If you ever get invited to a Japanese wedding, it is important to note that you are supposed to gift the couple at least 30.000 yen. That is, if you are a part of the core wedding. Giving any less is considered rude as the couple will have to pay for your expenses this way. And giving any even number like 20.000 yen or 40.000 yen is also a no-no. This is because even numbers could be divided between divorcing spouses too easily which could cause you to jinx the couple. Are you invited only to the nijikai (second party) or sanjikai (third party)? Then you can get away with paying 10.000 yen to cover your own expenses.
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