Weddings in Kansai

ByJustin Hanus
Apr 21, 2023

Weddings in Kansai

Wedding days are one of the most important days of our lives. If you settle with a partner in Kansai and decide to tie the knot or if you want to choose it as a location for your marriage vows, here’s an overview of what you should know about getting married in Kansai, along with some information on great wedding venues.

Weddings in Japan

The traditional Japanese wedding is a Shinto wedding conducted at a shrine, although Western weddings, such as Christian church weddings, are also typical nowadays, especially with expat couples. Hybrid weddings that blend Eastern and Western elements are also becoming more common. However, to be legally married in Japan, you don’t necessarily have to have a ceremony at all. You can tie the knot with a civil registration at your local municipal office.

A priest conducts Shinto weddings at a Shinto shrine. Some Japanese hotels now have shrines installed so marriages can legally occur on their premises. The bride and groom will both wear the traditional Japanese kimono. Shinto ceremonies involve the priest saying prayers, carrying out purification rituals before the couple gives their vows, and participating in a sake-sipping ritual (san-san-kudo). Offerings are made to the gods (tamagushi hoten), and rings are exchanged. Ceremonies are typically followed by a reception involving more guests. This is more of a party celebration, usually involving a meal, speeches, and music.

Japan has yet to legalize same-sex marriage, and only some parts of the country allow same-sex civil partnerships.

Planning a Wedding in Kansai

Weddings in Kansai are similar to those in many other places in that you should give yourself at least a few months to plan them, longer if you want an elaborate ceremony and reception. Wedding planners are common in Japan for those who want a big day with all the frills. As a bare minimum, you’ll need at least a couple of weeks to sort out legal documentation to register your marriage. This increases to around six weeks if you’re not a Japanese national.

Anyone can marry in Japan, national or foreign, as long as they are of legal age (18 for men, 16 for women) and are legally free to marry. You will need to submit a marriage application (konin todoke) to your local ward office (or office closest to the wedding venue if you both live outside Japan) along with the following documentation:

  • Passport or valid photo ID
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof that you are free to marry, i.e., that you are not already married (this needs to be a certified and translated affidavit from your home country’s embassy if you are not Japanese)
  • Personal seal (hanko)

Check with your local ward for details of your municipal office. You can find details of wards on city or prefecture websites. See Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara (in Japanese).

Your marriage application will need to be signed by two witnesses. Regarding the wedding ceremony and reception, if you choose to have them, popular venues include shrines, temples, churches or other religious buildings, community halls, hotels, and castles. You must book these several months in advance, further during peak seasons. Costs will depend on the type of wedding you have. Legal costs are typically under 20,000 yen, including document translation fees. A complete wedding with bells and whistles can cost 3-4 million yen.

Top Wedding Venues in Kansai

There are many great wedding locations all across Kansai. Here are some of the best:

Castle Garden, Osaka
Jishu-Jinja Shrine, Kyoto
James Tei Restaurant, Kobe
Hilltop Terrace, Nara
Avancer Lien, Osaka
Maruyama Park, Kyoto
Kitano Club Sola, Kobe
Ritz-Carlton, Osaka
Northern Church, Kyoto
Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine, Osaka

שנילי Eli Shany אלי שני, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor

Leave a Reply