There’s nothing quite as exciting as planning your wedding. For many people, hosting their wedding abroad is a dream come true – maybe that’s why you’re visiting this page right now!
Perhaps you or your partner is Japanese and you want to honor your heritage, or perhaps you both just love the country so much that it seems inconceivable to get married anywhere else!
Whatever your reason for considering a wedding in Japan, there are a few hoops that you need to jump through first.
It’s certainly not the easiest place in the world to get married, but if it is what you want, it is definitely possible and worth the extra effort.
One of the things you need to know about is the age restrictions for marriage in Japan. Take a look below to find out everything you need to know about the legal age requirement for marriage in Japan.
If you are Japanese, the age requirements differ between genders. If you are a man, you must be 18 years old or older in order to legally get married.
However, if you are a female, you can be 16 years old or older to get married. That means that women can only get married below the age of eighteen if their male partner is eighteen or over.
If you are coming to Japan from a different country to get married, you can only do so if you reach the legal age of marriage in your home state or country.
For example, if you are from the state of New York, you and your partner must both be 18 years old or older to legally marry in Japan.
Although Japanese women can marry at sixteen, the state of New York requires that both parties be at least eighteen years old.
If you are from England, in the United Kingdom, you can marry in Japan if you are both sixteen years old or more, as that is the minimum age to enter into a marriage in England.
Although it is possible to get married at the ages of 16 or 18 for women and men respectively in Japan, anyone under the age of 20 years old must have approval from their parents in order to legally marry.
This is applicable whether you are a Japanese national or not; whatever the laws in your country, if you are under 20 years of age you must have proof of one of your parent’s consent to be able to marry in Japan.
In order to get married in Japan, you will need to fill out a Kon-in Todoke, otherwise known as a request of registration of marriage form. Part of this form requires two signatures from witnesses who are 20 years of age or older.
Although they can be any nationality, it is essential that they are at least 20 years old, otherwise your Kon-in Todoke is invalid.
These witnesses must also be someone you know, as both the Japanese and US embassy authorities are unable to act as witnesses for you.
You might think that there is a way around these age restrictions, but unfortunately, there is not. You must adhere to the legal requirements of Japan.
Also, depending on the province in which you are getting married, you might even be required to bring a certified version of your birth certificate to the necessary powers, as well as a Japanese translation of your certificate.
No matter what your age at the time of marriage, if you are a woman who has been married previously, there must be a space of at least six months between the dissolution of your past marriage and the ceremony of your new one.
This is supposedly to avoid any confusion regarding the paternity of your possible children. If you are a man, there is no time restriction regarding your re-marriage.
Unfortunately, Japan does not yet allow the marriage of gay, lesbian, transgender, or any other same-sex couples (see also ‘Is Japan LGBT Friendly?‘). Even if you and your partner are the legal age to marry in Japan, if you are both of the same sex, you cannot officially marry in Japan.
However, there are symbolic ceremonies that you can hold in place of an official wedding ceremony.
LGTBQ+ weddings are becoming more common in Japan – albeit rather slowly – and these ceremonies result in a partnership certificate, as opposed to an official certificate of marriage.
These partnership weddings are only offered in a select few municipalities across the country. This is disappointing for many LGTBQ+ people and their allies, but it is at least a step in the right direction.
Hopefully, we will see more progress and the introduction of same-sex marriage in Japan over the next few years.
Foreign LGBTQ+ couples can still enjoy the beauty of a Japanese wedding ceremony and be legally married in their home country; they have the option to become legally married in their home country before heading to Japan for a Shinto ceremony.
Although this is not the same as having one valid wedding ceremony, it is a viable option for those who really want to experience a Japanese wedding as well as to be officially married.
The Japanese marriage laws are complicated, and vary from person to person. However, here are the main points you need to know:
- Japanese males must be 18 years or older to marry
- Japanese females must be 16 years or older to marry
- International men and women must reach the legal age requirement for marriage in their state or home country in order to marry in Japan
- If you are under 20 years of age, you must have at least one parent’s consent in order to marry legally
- You may be required to bring your birth certificate
- You must have filled in a Kon-in Todoke with two signatures from witnesses aged 20 or over
- Women who are re-marrying must wait 6 months between the end of their previous marriage and the start of their next marriage, no matter how old they are
There are many political and legal hoops that you have to jump through in order to get married in Japan, and being the right age is just one of them.
If you are set on getting married in the beautiful blossom-covered country, we are certain that the lengths you go to for it to happen will be worth it.
Shinto weddings are regarded as one of the most beautiful forms of wedding ceremony in the world, and are guaranteed to provide you with a beautiful marriage experience.
Every country has its own laws regarding the legal age for marriage, and these must be respected.
What we hope will change, though, in respect to Japanese law, is the way in which it regards LGBTQ+ unions; they deserve to have the same status as heterosexual marriages, and they hopefully will, one day soon.