Sunday, November 15, 2009


Today, Satoshi is attending a wedding for one of his co-workers.

Before even getting married, there is a formal ceremony called yuino, an engagement ceremony, Satoshi and I didn't go through this, so I didn't experience this first hand but have heard that the families meet with the couple and discuss the circumstances of the marriage (like the bride will/will not work after getting married, children, etc.).

The groom's family also gives the bride some money to be spent on furniture and other items needed for the couple's new life together. There are also some symbolic items that are exchanged, but I don't know much about them, so I can't go into detail.

In Japan, weddings tend to be very expensive and very formal. Like most other life events, a bit too formal if you ask me. Most times, when a person is invited, the spouses/children usually aren't.

I remember our wedding reception in Japan (we actually had one in Hawaii and one in Japan).

The details were pretty much arranged between my in-laws and the hotel, all we pretty much had to decide was how much we were going spend. (Actually how much my FIL was going to spend...)

I remember being quite upset having to take off from work, fly to Japan (twice), to sit in a meeting with the hotel....and not being able to have the reception look/flow the way "I wanted it to".

Most receptions in Japan invite 80 to 100 people, sometimes less. I think nowadays, more couples have their receptions at restaurants rather than at hotels, just because it is just too expensive and too impersonal.

Many get married overseas (like in Hawaii) because they can save buku-bucks (lots of money) on their wedding and reception.

We picked out French food (which I never got to eat), I remember it was almost US$180 per person! No buffet lines here, everything is sit-down style with lots of alcohol.

The flowers on the table...I wanted tulips, but since they aren't in season in January, had to go with gerbera.

I remember having to find people I invited to say speeches about me...sigh. Why they have this at Japanese wedding receptions, I don't really know, but these speeches run almost the whole reception time taking turns between people who know the groom and people who know the bride.

Writing a speech to thank my parents, then presenting them with a bouquet of flowers and a bouquet to my in-laws, presented in front of everyone. (I was told, most brides are supposed to cry while saying their speech, though I didn't)

The formal meeting of families before the reception starts...and the formal photo taken of the family (no one smiling! well, maybe just the people from Hawaii?? Isn't it supposed to be a happy occasion?)

The expensive gifts, called hikidemono, which you give guests who come to your reception, kind of like favors only on a higher level. I think the value of the hikidemono has to be at least half of what you expect to receive as monetary gifts.

As guests leave, they are given a big bag filled with the hikidemono gifts.

Needing something to change into because many brides/grooms do something called ironaoshi (literally change color, some actually do this more than once!)...we went with a matching aloha shirt and muu-muu with maile lei and ginger lei.

Oh, and if you are a guest, don't think you can just get by with a card and a little cash or a gift...the minimum is 30,000 yen (about US$300), though this rule is not written anywhere.

Even numbers in Japan are considered bad luck, and 10,000 yen seems a bit "cheap", which is why the minimum is 30,000 yen...of course, the closer you are to the bride/groom (like family) the more you need to give...(though Satoshi says he didn't give his brother anything when he got married)

Wedding registries are not common here and it is bad luck to give knives or glass items as presents for fear of "cutting" or "breaking" the bond. Oh, and glass items are not good gifts for housewarmings too (for fear of the house falling apart)...sigh.

Men attending wear black suits with white ties (always!) and women, well, you can wear almost anything as long as you don't one-up the bride (which means wear black or grey)...

After the reception is over, usually there is a 2nd party called nijikai, which the people that weren't invited to the original reception go to....sometimes there is even a 3rd or 4th party...

Even though the reception in Japan was very formal, too formal for me, it was a good experience. Different types of receptions/ceremonies are done in different parts of Japan.

Nowadays, some couples choose catalogs to have guests choose what they would like to receive as hikidemono, I think this totally defeats the purpose of the gift...hopefully I'll be able show you what Satoshi receives.

Have a good week.


jalna said...

Oh my Gawwwwd. Satoshi is so lucky you were still willing to go through with the wedding! :)

Angela K. Nickerson said...

So interesting! I'm so glad to read about your wedding experience. On Friday, I posted photos of a gorgeous Japanese wedding party I encountered in Venice last month. Check it out:


Rona Y said...

Coincidentally, I'm attending a friend's wedding next week! I'm cheapening out and am only giving Y30 000--I'm just an English teacher, after all! In addition to the gift, other expenses for the female guests include hair, make-up, kimono rentals if you go that route. . .

I find Japanese weddings to be terribly boring (of course, I can't understand most of the speeches), but at least they don't drag on and on. You know exactly when they'll start and exactly when they'll end. There's something to be said for Japanese punctuality!

K and S said...

I'm lucky too Jalna, he still has to put up with me :p

Will check it out Angela :)

So true Rona! I guess they are so punctual because most times there is another group scheduled for their reception right after! Have fun.

Take care everyone.

Debinhawaii said...

Yep, eloping sounds like the way to go! ;-) Sounds like such an effort--no wonder so many Japanese couples come here instead.

K and S said...

I'm glad they go to Hawaii Debinhawaii, great for our tourism ;)

Take care.

Deb said...

Holy SMOKES! I had no idea about this, thank you for sharing. . .incredibly interesting . . .and shocking. You have truly married the right man if you were willing to go through all of that;) - being the laid-back island girl that you are.

I'm feeling VERY grateful for our relaxed Maui wedding, which we paid for ourselves and could call every single shot!

Now, do you have a wedding photo link on your blog . . . if not, can we see one doozo?

Rowena... said...

I'm so blown away about the formality that I don't know what to think...what a very informative post!!

K and S said...

Ha Deb, our wedding was done by Watabe which is a Japanese company, nothing laid back about least the Hawaii reception was a bit laid back. I may post a couple of photos (gotta get one okay first...)

Thanks Rowena...way too formal for me :0

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Very, VERY interesting.


K and S said...

Thanks Paz :)

Take care.

Su-Lin said...

Ugh - I wouldn't even bother getting married if so much trouble was involved! But thanks for this description as I had no idea about Japanese weddings!

K and S said...

Thanks Su-Lin :)

Take care.

Jenster said...

I admire your patience, Kat. My wedding/reception was in Hawaii, with a small reception afterward in Seattle, and I found all of that to be stressful enough! I can't even imagine how stressful it must be for the bride and groom in Japan. I would also balk at the families getting together to make decisions that I would feel was none of their business. (And I would tell them that, too.)

I would never make a good Japanese bride. :)

K and S said...

Thanks Jenster, I think I was a semi-Bridezilla of sorts...I'm thankful Satoshi went through with all of it too.

Take care.

Barbara said...

Kat this is such an interesting post. I went to my friend Charles' wedding in Tokyo back in 1991. I had a super time. I was seated at a table with two of Charles co workers. I was surprised their wives weren't with them.They thought it was amusing when I told them how the guests at an English wedding often call out funny comments during the speeches.After the wedding we went to a second party at a club where the people not invited to the first wedding were. Then after that we went to a third party at an intimate bar where only Charles and Yokos closest friends were invited. I was really surprised to receive a bag when I was leaving which was the gift ( a lovely laqueur bowl)and a beautifully boxed and wrapped piece of wedding cake.

K and S said...

Thanks Barbara, I'm so glad you had a nice time at your friend's wedding :)

Take care.