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Getting Married In Japan

Getting Married In Japan

Getting married in Japan is something that many people coming to Japan decide to do having been here for a while. Some who come for work have strong intent even before leaving their home country about getting married in Japan, their love for Japan's people and culture prompting their lifestyle change along with their desire for getting married in Japan rather than their home country.

As for what getting married in Japan is actually like, it's both easy and challenging at once. The easy part of getting married in Japan is that you can easily walk into your local ward office, providing you have the relevant documentation and are both legally old enough, and get married pretty much on the spot.

Getting Married In Japan Finding A Marriage Partner Can Be Challenging

The challenging part with getting married in Japan is actually finding the right partner for marriage. Japanese culture makes meeting people for dating or marriage far from easy. While in most western countries you can strike up a conversation with someone in a cafe, bar or wherever, exchange details then begin dating, progressing into getting married, that almost never happens in Japan. For 99% of people, there must be some point of commonality, be that friends, co-workers, or clubs (tennis, yoga, etc) so they can have faith in who they're meeting. That said, many people coming to Japan as English teachers marry former students, funnily some people actually join language schools so they can find a marriage partner, classes expand their social network so finding someone and getting married becomes easier. Using Japanese marriage agency services is the easiest way of finding that ideal marriage partner when you want to get married in Japan, especially if you have no wish to marry someone from your workplace.

Getting Married In Japan: What Is Involved With Marriage In Japan For Foreigners?

This guide on getting married in Japan is specifically written so foreigners can understand what is needed, from start to finish, from meeting a marriage partner to actually getting married.

  1. Getting Married In Japan
  2. What Happens If You Marry A Japanese Citizen
  3. How Much Does It Cost To Get Married In Japan
  4. What Is Marriage Like In Japan
  5. How To Find A Japanese Wife Or Husband
  6. Japanese Marriage Agency The Easy Way To Find A Marriage Partner
  7. What Documents Do I Need To Get Married In Japan
  8. Affidavit Of Competency To Marry Japan
  9. Getting Married In Japan On Tourist Visa
  10. Getting Married In Japan UK Citizen
  11. Getting Married In Japan US Citizen
  12. Getting Married In Japan Australian Citizen
  13. Canadian Getting Married In Japan
  14. International Marriage Japan
  15. Getting Married In Japan Some Final Words

Note, because of coronavirus immigration conditions can vary frequently, as such affecting plans for getting married in Japan. While this has little effect on those already living within Japan, anyone planning on coming to Japan to get married, then find work, could face serious challenges. This guide on getting married in Japan is largely for foreigners already living in Japan thinking about marriage, though there are useful points for people overseas thinking about coming to Japan to get married.

What Happens If You Marry A Japanese Citizen

So, when getting married in Japan what happens if you marry a Japanese citizen? The key thing for most people is that after marriage their visa status can change. Getting married with a Japanese citizen creates eligibility for a 'spouse visa' which gives greater flexibility for work and life. So even if they arrived in Japan as an English teacher, they can then get work using other skills, though doing so will likely need Japanese skills at level N2 or better with JLPT. Little else changes after getting married, though there are a few important things to be aware of.

Marrying A Japanese Citizen In Japan

Before you marry a Japanese citizen it's worth checking whether you're happy with Japanese legalities. Every country has its laws around what legal entitlements partners have within marriage, Japan while becoming more progressive still has its own particular rules. Notably around wives and their children. Before getting carried away about getting married in Japan, check whether you are happy with the legal side of what happens if you marry a Japanese citizen. If you intend on living in Japan for the rest of your life, then getting married in Japan with a Japanese citizen likely makes sense. If you're planning on leaving or traveling around, it might not. There are cases where couples have moved overseas after getting married, the wife has become homesick, then just returned to Japan with the kids, with the husband being unable to do anything. So before getting married in Japan, make sure you and your partner are truly right for each other, something using a Japanese marriage agency can really help with.

While you can easily become a resident with much freedom when you marry a Japanese citizen, it's worth noting that actually gaining Japanese citizenship is very rare. The Japanese government is very cautious about granting foreigners citizenship. Generally, Japanese citizenship is only granted to people who have contributed greatly to Japanese society in some way, enhancing Japan's reputation, world standing, or improved quality of life for a large number of Japanese citizens. Being an English teacher in Japan, then getting married with a Japanese citizen is unlikely to grant sufficient notability needed for gaining Japanese citizenship.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Married In Japan

As with most countries the cost for getting married depends on what type of ceremony you desire. For anyone who just planning on getting married in Japan without the celebration ceremony, i.e. just visiting their local ward office and doing the paperwork which certifies them as married, the basic cost for getting married is ¥300 which covers the cost of the kekkon-todoke juri shōmeisho (結婚届受理証明書) or marriage certificate. A longer version is available which includes copies of the documentation that proving your marriage is legal is ¥800.

When getting married in Japan celebration ceremonies costs generally start from ¥1 million, with average cost of weddings in Japan being around ¥3.3 million, usually including catering for about 80 people depending on venue, as well as dress, tuxedo, and kimono rental. Many brides have three changes of clothing for getting married and the celebration ceremonies, though some opt only for two changes.

What Is Marriage Like In Japan

Marriage Celebration After Getting Married In Japan

When getting married in Japan there are two major types of ceremonies:

  • Western style marriage ceremonies with a wedding celebrant
  • Japanese style weddings at a shine with a Shinto blessing

Both are big business in Japan, shrines make much of their income from weddings. While for western style weddings the appeal of the look has enabled many wedding companies to open and spread throughout Japan, often with their own 'chapel' for ceremonies, usually with an English teacher working part time as their wedding celebrant or 'priest'. Marriage ceremonies are often short, with a big party including various games after. Guests are expected to gift money to the newly wed couple with the amount being indivisible by two easily. Commonly, guests will gift ¥30,000 using three newly minted ten thousand yen notes, while 30,000 can be divided by two equally, three notes cannot. Family members usually gift much more. Something worth noting is that couples usually give gift bags to guests attending the first celebration party, gift bag contents does vary, sometimes luxury items are included, other times simple mementos like personalized wedding candy are contained.

Another expectation with getting married in Japan is the after party, or nijikai which basically means second party. Often friends and co-workers not invited to the main marriage ceremony due to restrictions on numbers will come, making the second party much larger. Nijikai are often held at restaurants or large bars rented out exclusively for them. Nijikai guests rarely gift money, though often give wedding presents of some kind depending on their relationship with the couple getting married.

As for what marriage is like in Japan when it comes to actual married life, depends on how traditional or modern your marriage partner is, along with how well you can communicate your desires for married life. Many ladies stop working so they can focus on having a family after getting married, opting to look after the home while their husband earns the money needed for a good life together. Some Japanese men will expect wives to stop work, even if their wife comes from overseas. While some foreign men marrying Japanese ladies expect their wives to carry on working after getting married as is common within western countries. These things should be carefully discussed before decisions about marriage are made, in order to make sure both people have a similar vision of their future married life together.

There are various stories of Japanese marriage partners becoming more dominant after marriage, or less forgiving and unkind. This has nothing to do with Japanese culture. There are many who maintain their kindness, or other character from before marriage. Changes in personality after marriage come from the person, rather than culture. Though culture oftens gets blamed. Because of this spending time understanding your potential marriage partner, along with their family, deeply, is highly recommended. Of course people do change, aspects of personality can alter because of life experiences, so do be aware that whoever you marry could well be very different personality-wise 12 months, 3 years, or even 1 week after marriage. While Japanese people generally are kind and traditional, values are changing within Japan. For most people, happy marriage in Japan does continue on, as long as they communicate well, working together as a partnership even after getting married.

How To Find A Japanese Wife Or Husband

While many people come to Japan for work, with an intent on getting married, actually knowing how to find a Japanese wife, or husband, is something else. Many arrive in Japan without considering how cultural differences will affect their chances of finding a marriage partner. Japan is very different compared with most other countries, while Japanese people are friendly on the surface, they're very wary of strangers. So asking someone you've never met before on a date will likely have a success rate below 0.01%, unless they've lived overseas, becoming culturally different from normal Japanese culture themselves.

Even for Japanese people finding marriage partners is challenging. Omiai, marriage introduction done using a matchmaker, dates back to the 16th century in Japan, and is still used by many now albeit how Omiai is done now has evolved since 16th century Japan. Most importantly, matchmakers now focus on love matches, rather than family compatibility.

Speed dating parties are relatively common, though they have declined in popularity following issues with COVID-19 and the pandemic which began in 2020. By far the simplest way of getting married in Japan for foreigners is by using Japanese marriage agency services.

Japanese Marriage Agency The Easy Way To Find A Marriage Partner

Marriage In Japan

Many people, both Japanese and foreign, use services from a Japanese marriage agency to find the right person to marry. Mostly because of cultural barriers which make meeting someone very challenging. Trust is very important for Japanese people, spend any amount of time working in Japan and you will understand how integrated into Japanese culture knowledge of a person's background and reliability is.

Marriage agencies in Japan bridge this gap by checking their members carefully, and becoming essentially that trusted third party. Just over 7% of marriages in 2020 came from introductions made by marriage agencies. While 7% may seem little, outside of people marrying their childhood sweetheart, someone they met at university or work, that 7% is a big number. Opportunity for meeting someone and getting to know them so a relationship can start, is seriously challenging in Japan, something which forms a major culture shock for foreigners when they come to live in Japan.

Japanese marriage agencies often work within federations or associations, which brings real cooperative benefit. Rather than each marriage agency having numbers of members measured in tens, they pool marriage introductions between agencies creating thousands of potential matches. IBJ being one of the largest associations in Japan, with around 65,000 people searching for marriage partners pooled between their various member marriage agencies. Of course, unless your Japanese is fluent using most standard marriage agencies will be challenging. Using marriage agencies with international marriage introductions as their speciality thus becomes an easy way you can overcome that obstacle. One agency worth contacting is Japanese marriage agency Marriage Matching based in Osaka, as they have native Japanese and native English speaking staff and are very helpful when it comes to getting married in Japan.

Naturally, using a marriage agency does involve various fees, which on the face of it are seemingly pricey, around US$1,000 for registration, with average monthly fees of US$150, then their final fee of about US$2,000 due when you decide to get married with someone you have met. While these fees seem high, they are actually very fair. Most marriage agencies give plenty of one on one support, so relationships can really flourish, some like Marriage Matching also offer coaching support along with dating advice. Plus, marriage agencies make finding a marriage partner very simple, removing much of that usual stress people experience with traditional dating methods.

One key thing about using Japanese marriage agency services for finding your ideal marriage partner is that you know everyone you have an introduction with is serious about marriage. They have been checked and confirmed as legally eligible for marriage within Japan through various documentation checks. Plus you know before your Omiai, that whoever you meet is well matched with you, at least on paper. Because of this Japanese marriage agencies do save much heartache, plus of course partner searching is easier because you stop relying on luck to find that ideal marriage partner.

What Documents Do I Need To Get Married In Japan

Getting married in Japan as with many other things requires very specific documentation. One key piece of documentation needed is the single certificate. While very few foreigners have ever heard or seen such a document, it's part of life for Japanese people. Anyone getting married in Japan whether they're Japanese or foreign must produce certified proof they are single, because of article 732 of Japanese law people have to prove they are unmarried before they can be married. Japan is very strict on its one spouse only law.

For Japanese people it simply means visiting their local ward office before getting married and requesting a dokushin shomeisho (独身証明), which translates as single certificate. For foreigners planning on getting married in Japan there are various titles for the equivalent certificate, in most cases it simply means visiting your relevant embassy or consulate. Usually appointments are essential as witnessing is required along with documentation checks for your passport and birth certificate.

Legally only persons over 20 years old can decide for themselves about marriage. If you are coming to Japan teaching English, or for other work, you will likely be over 20 anyway having graduated from university or college. However, whichever ward office you're using when you get married will need your passport plus birth certificate for authentication of your age.

For marriage certification your chosen ward office will need the following documentation from you as a minimum for getting married in Japan:

  • Your Single Certificate
  • Your Passport
  • Your Birth Certificate

Do check for additional required documentation for marriage at your ward office in advance, as different ward offices can have different requirements. Plus legal requirements can change too. Also worth noting is that single certificates must be less than 3 months old at the point of getting married in Japan.

Affidavit Of Competency To Marry Japan

Affidavit of competency to marry in Japan is another name for the single certificate. There are various terms used by different countries for this document, some of which are as follows:

  • Affidavit of Competency to Marry
  • Certificate of No Impediment to Marry
  • Single Status Affidavit
  • Affirmation of Marital Status

Check with staff at your embassy which certificate they issue.

Getting Married In Japan On Tourist Visa

Many people wonder whether getting married in Japan on a tourist visa is possible. It is, well at time of writing it is. In many ways it's reasonably common, especially for couples who met overseas or online who then decide getting married in Japan is right for them. So if you meet someone then decide marriage is right for you both, you could easily come to Japan on a tourist visa and get married.

Note, because of coronavirus (COVID-19) Japan's immigration situation varies at times. Many foreigners are blocked entry into Japan because of their home country's coronavirus situation. At times gaining entry into Japan is possible on either study or work visas, at other times entry becomes impossible unless you're Japanese. So if you do meet that magical Japanese marriage partner, decide getting married is right, do check what is happening with Japanese immigration rules before booking flights etc.

Getting Married In Japan UK Citizen

Getting married in Japan as a UK citizen is relatively simple, this documentation is however essential for your marriage certification:

  • Affidavit/Affirmation of Marital Status
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Passport, Japanese Driver's License, or Japanese Resident's Card (Zairyu Card)
  • Certificate of Marriage Notification (婚姻届書)

Your Affidavit/Affirmation of Marital Status is gained via your local British embassy or consulate, generally it's done same day requiring an appointment with consular staff who will need your passport plus birth certificate. What comes after is more challenging, Japanese immigration require proof beyond your marriage certificate that your relationship is real, before they grant the residential status change needed for gaining your spouse visa. So while you can technically get married with ease, actually establishing a properly stable married life after getting married in Japan requires jumping through further hoops. As with many things in Japan there are numerous forms requiring careful completion. Documented proof of relationship will also be required, often this is photographic, though Japanese immigration authorities will let you know current requirements at your time of application.

Getting Married In Japan US Citizen

Getting married in Japan as a US Citizen requires these documents as a minimum:

  • A sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Passport, Japanese Driver's License, or Japanese Resident's Card (Zairyu Card)
  • Certificate of Marriage Notification (婚姻届書)

The sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry comes from your local US consulate or embassy, you will require an appointment arranged in advance, consular staff will also require your passport and birth certificate for their checks. As with UK citizens planning marriage in Japan, getting married in Japan as a US citizen is fairly simple, challenge comes when applying for visa changes after marriage through proof of relationship requirements needed by Japanese immigration before they will issue a spouse visa.

Getting Married In Japan Australian Citizen

Requirements for getting married in Japan as an Australian citizen are as follows:

  • Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Passport, Japanese Driver's License, or Resident's Card (Zairyu Card)
  • Certificate of Marriage Notification (婚姻届書)

Your Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage comes through a pre-booked appointment with Australian consular or embassy staff. They will need your passport and full birth certificate along with a form you fill out while Australian consular staff are present. This process takes around one or two hours for completion, during which they will generally give advice on your marriage and how you prove you're legally married in Australia should you and your partner be moving there at some point.

Having proven your legal ability to marry and become married in Japan, you must notify Japanese immigration of your marriage so that you can change your residential status, thus gain a spouse visa. Requirements are commonly three photographs clearly showing you and your partner together at different times plus various carefully completed forms, though these requirements can change at times depending on various criteria.

Canadian Getting Married In Japan

As a Canadian getting married in Japan the following documentation is required:

  • Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Passport, Japanese Driver's License, or Resident's Card (Zairyu Card)
  • Certificate of Marriage Notification (婚姻届書)

Provided Japan is your country of residence then your Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad will come from whichever Canadian consulate, high commission or embassy is nearest you. If you're coming on a tourist visa then you will likely need it issued in Canada before you travel, checking with your marriage partner's local ward office would be wise. If Japan is your planned country of residence after getting married then various documents must be submitted to Japanese immigration authorities, along with proof that substantiates your relationship as real.

International Marriage Japan

International Marriage In Japan

International marriage is reasonably common in Japan now. While foreigners were somewhat rare in Japan until the 1990s, few people blink or look twice at a foreigner walking down the street now, even within many rural areas. Certainly for cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima and Fukuoka foreigners are relatively common, especially as English teachers or instructors of other foreign languages. In Hokkaido there are some places where almost all residents are foreign, with certain ski towns being especially popular with Australian citizens.

While international marriage has become more common since 1990, there's still very little foreign language support when getting married in Japan. Because of this you will either need good Japanese language skills, around JLPT level N2 or higher, or a marriage partner who has high level English fluency, business level or higher, who will translate for you when making marriage arrangements in Japan. There are of course translation services, both companies and freelance interpreters that can help if needed. Though being able to arrange things and communicate directly with your intended marriage partner is wise when getting married in Japan. As of 2018 foreigners comprised approximately 2.2% of the Japanese population, most foreigners seen in Japan being tourists with very few actually living and working in Japan, hence why so much is still Japanese only. While Japan is very progressive with welcoming foreigners, the broad view is that if you're living in Japan, especially if you're getting married in Japan, that learning Japanese is essential. Some government forms now have English translations available, though most things are Japanese only. Chances of serene life after getting married in Japan are largely dependent on your Japanese language proficiency. While there are various English only jobs available, much of life will require solid Japanese communication skills.

Getting Married In Japan Some Final Words

Getting married in Japan is relatively simple, only requiring some simple documentation along with signing of forms at a ward office. While getting married in Japan is relatively simple, proving your relationship then gaining your spouse visa requires more work. In terms of challenge levels, actually finding someone right for marriage is the greatest challenge when getting married in Japan. Cultural barriers faced when meeting new people make forming new relationships very difficult, especially when asking for first dates, unless you have prior connections with whomever you are asking for that first date. At times people will agree that first date without desire for any relationship, ensuring things are civil yet never progress beyond pleasantries. There are many obstacles during that initial meeting phase for anyone intending on getting married in Japan. Hence why many Japanese people, as well as foreigners now use Japanese marriage agencies that help with marriage matching so they can begin dating with ease. Use of matchmaking services for anyone thinking of getting married in Japan who's still seeking that perfect marriage partner is advised. Carefully studying Japanese so that communication is easy comes highly recommended too for everyone getting married in Japan.

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