Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wedding in Japan

While I was researching for destination wedding earlier, I came across to a lot of beautiful wedding churches located in Japan. And I am thinking, why not share them here?

One interesting things I noted during my early destination wedding search was that somehow a lot of venue with stunning architecture and scenery are related to Japan - they are either based in Japan, or founded by a Japanese company or cater to a lot of Japanese couple. A little digging online soon reveals why.


Japanese wedding is an elaborate and very expensive affairs. They can be roughly divided into shinto style and western style, with the former held in a shinto shrine and latter takes place in a church. A lot of Japanese couples chose a western style wedding because it is more romantic, and it is also cheaper. But definitely not because they are Christian! As a results, there are a lot of churches and chapels built specifically to cater to this market. And they are so architecturally and functionally beautiful and romantic.

Another reason for these purpose-built wedding venues is also due to the emerging trend of destination wedding. The traditional Japanese wedding custom requires one to extend invitations to bosses, colleagues and acquaintances for career advancement. Coupled this with high cost per head count, the total cost soon spiral out of control. Thus some couples decided to pack up and get married somewhere with limited guests, either within Japan or other countries such as Guam, Bali or Hawaii.  (Sounds familiar?)

"If you get married in Japan, you are expected to have a big wedding reception and to invite your business colleagues, bosses, friends and relatives," says Taguchi. "If you get married in Hawaii, you can invite fewer guests, plus you can have your honeymoon there - it saves a lot of money."
~ Quote from TLC's article on Japanese Wedding 

Anyway, with the abundance of purpose-built church (a survey in 2006 counted 589 churches, more than half of them have stained glass and pipe organ), they must have some breathtaking ones and here are some of them.

1. Chapel on the Water (水の教会)

The Chapel on the Water (水の教会) is located within the compound of Hoshino Tomamu Resort, Hokkaido. It is designed by world renowned architecture Tadao Ando, who also designed The Church of Sea (海の教会, located at The Westin, Amaji Island, Japan), The Chapel of Wind (風の教会, Kobe) and Church of the Light (光の教会, Osaka).

2. Stone Church (石の教会)

The Stone Church is located at the compound of Hotel Bleston Court, Karuizawa. Karuizawa is a church wedding hotspot in Japan, probably stem from its strong ties with Western Missionaries in 1800. The Stone Church is designed b Kendrick Kellogg, apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright. Brilliant play and genius integration of Light, Stone, Water, Greenery and Trees blend this church into its surrounding, creating a church-without-church experience.


3. ZONA Wedding Chapel

The ZONA Wedding Chapel is located within the compound of Hoshino Resort Risonare, Yamanashi. The chapel is designed by Klein Dytham Architecture in the form of leaf, thus it is also called The Chapel of Leave. The "leaves" can be opened up, creating a transient boundary between the chapel and the nature surrounding. The design won a silver award in 2005 from the D&AD Awards (Environment Design & Architecture section), one of the most prestigious international awards for creative design and advertising industries.

4. Glass Chapel with Sea View

And of course I wouldn't missed those ubiquitous glass chapel dotted along the sea of Okinawa and Beppu. I will just post some pictures here. To find out more, you can go to Zexy, Mynavi Weddings, or Mina no Weddinge, but it will be in Japanese.

I also came across some first hand experiences attending Japanese wedding written by Taiwanese during the research. Here's the original blog entry written in chinese

Some of the interesting customs are:

1. The seating distance from the bride and groom are in inverse relationship with your actual relation with them. Thus, immediate family is being seated the furthest while not so closed friends were seated the closest. 

2. There is a "standard fixed rate"of oshugi (similar to angpow or gift money) which applied throughout all weddings. For friends, it would be 30,000 yen (~USD300) per person for single or 50,000 yen (~USD500) per couple. Ouch! I guess no one would attend any wedding in Singapore if this is the prevailing rate. 

3. However, despite the high "angpow" rate, the marrying couples is still on the losing end. It was reported that couples spend 54,000 yen per guests on average just for food and gift. And it is their custom to cover travelling and lodging cost if guests come from a distance. 


4. It is common to have a after-party celebration after the wedding reception and wedding ceremony. Most friends are invited to the after party instead of the wedding reception. The after party are less formal than the wedding reception and might involves games and lucky draw!

5. Oshugi is not required for after-party but sometimes guests pay cover charge to help the couples with the cost. 

Want to know more on getting married in Japan? Here's the link to expat-written guide

Getting Married in Japan: Wedding Types
Getting Married in Japan: Wedding Fairs
Getting Married in Japan: Negotiating a Price

Japan is also opening up for destination weddings. I guess their ageing society and delayed marriage is taking a toll on the industry.  The cost of wedding ceremony is pretty much on par with the rest of destination wedding location. For example, a wedding ceremony including dress rental, make up, photography, flowers cost 490,000 yen (USD4900) at the Stone Church. But double think of bringing an entourage of friends and families as cost of hotel and transportation are sky high in Japan. 

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