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 of which are a commercialized version of Hollywood-style church weddings.
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.
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. 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 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 for a Japanese wedding, it is important to note that you are supposed to gift the couple at least 30.000 yen 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 because even numbers could be divided between divorcing spouses too easily which could cause you to jinx the couple. If you are invited for only the nijikai (second party) or sanjikai (third party), you can get away with paying 10.000 yen to cover for your own expenses.
Your Japan Tour
If you are thinking about making a trip to Japan, as seasoned Japan experts we can help you create your perfect Japan tour, including expert guides who can add to your holiday with their extensive knowledge on topics such as economy, demographics, and Japanese culture. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!