Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting married in Japan Part 10: The REAL wedding

Please let me start this post with a stunning revelation; all my previous posts about the wedding and the preparations has been blatant lies!

Ok, I admit I just wrote that to shock a bit; we actually did have a wedding ceremony, reception and so as I've laid out in my posts, so it's not a lie in that sense. But the real formal legal wedding actually took place a few months before the ceremony... You see, in Japan there is a complete separation between the legal wedding and any ceremony; the wedding is registered in the city office and if you have any image of this carrying with it some form of ceremony or flair, think again. In Japan, it is a pure bureaucratic form filling exercise.

Me and Ms. Sunshine went on a Saturday to the Itabashi city office to register our wedding. On weekends the "office" consists of a small reception behind a heavy metal door in a gray corridor. Looking very much like a small janitor office than anything else. The person manning the desk also doesn't seem particularly excited about being there working on a weekend and is even less excited when people show up and he actually has to do any work. Ok, to be fair, the guy was nice enough but the utter lack of enthusiasm for his work kinda oozed out of him.

So, we filled in a few forms, the gray dude pointed to where and what we should fill in, looked over the papers and finally at the end he said, very unenthusiastically "congratulations" and reluctantly agreed to take a picture of us in the gray corridor holding up the document.

The formal wedding reception was held with only me and Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman in attendance sharing a small bottle of champagne and some cheese standing outside the office in the subway entrance since it was raining a bit outside. No speeches were held and no relatives sang for us at that day... The picture is an actual picture of the corridor where we legally tied the knot.

We did have a small debate later on which date to celebrate as our real wedding anniversary but we both pretty quickly agreed that compared to the wedding ceremony and reception with family and friends, the form filling exercise in the gray corridor paled in comparison... I know some people make quite an effort to have both the legal wedding registration and the ceremony at the same date but we didn't really want to have to stress with that running around the place.
With this, this exciting series is now drawing to an end, the next post will be some closing thoughts on how everything went, but if anyone has any questions or stuff they want me to mention feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer that.


Corinne said...

I got married without being there, hubby took my inkan and passport and was like "Err I wish to marry this gaijin bird (as I knocked her up so rush the paperwork) but she had to work today..." And they did it! He called me to tell me we were hitched in my lunch break... Omede-fucking-tou eh!

aimlesswanderer said...

Hmm, so romantic. Sounds suspiciously like a business transaction - registering a company name for example!

In Aust you can have ceremonies at the registry, but normally you sign the certificates and forms during the ceremony. I think they get lodged after, but they get backdated so you officially got married the day you signed them.

Oh no, I thought that this was the Never Ending Series which was going to make it all the way to the end of the year!

What are you going to write about now - the dark corners of Japan's pr0n industry? You've made a start there already. Gotta make sure people are coming here because of particularly weird entries.

Martin said...

I´m still waiting for the "Getting divorced in Japan" series with Harakiri and other stuff.

How long do we have to wait!?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Corinne - Wow, that's actually pretty impressive! So you can actually claim that you weren't present at your own wedding - that'll liven up most parties. You must've got a pretty smooth talking husband, who knows, he might as well stolen the inkan and passport off some passed out broad and married her without her ever knowing... (ok, fine, wouldn't do him much good, but still)

Aimless - Nope, now we're closing this little series of post, but next up is "buying a house" then I was thinking of doing the "shitty box tour of Japan".

Martin - Now you're gonna make her cry!

Andrew said...

Brings back memories of my wedding. If only all weddings could be so stress free. It's a shame we have to spoil them with the ceremony.

オテモヤン said...


RMilner said...

I would like to know if you have any advice for westerners attending a wedding of their Japanese in-laws.

Anonymous said...

We had the same "discussion" but while we registered on an auspicious day (Children's day)it was really surreal. We went to the city hall and since it was a holiday they had an "after hours" section. Well this after hours section was like walking into a magistrates office (as I would imagine) in the Edo era with an ancient looking man sitting cross-legged at a low bench ushering us in with vague hand gestures, sitting with nothing but tea and archaic looking pieces of paper. Total time warp. We decided that our much more gorgeous ceremony would definitely be the day of celebration!

I can verify Corinne story - a mate of mine had his wife go down to the local yakuba with all the necessaries and said "hey, kinda got knocked up - the only gaijin guy in town" and they were all good. They had probably already been pre-informed about it, that said!

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