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Two Americans married in Japan 2006/4/9 16:40
Me and my fiance will be coming to Japan in July to be married. I have completely read and reread the page on the US embassy site on how we get married, but I have a few questions regarding the process.

1. If we are both American, will we still need witnesses? The US embassy website only says that the Japanese national needs witnesses, but does not mention for two Americans.

2. Where do we go? Does someone have the address, phone numbers, website, etc... on where we go to get legally married in Tokyo? I have been unable to find much information.

Thank you!

by Josh  

Marriage in Japan 2006/4/9 23:41
Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that, to get married, you have to have a registered address in Japan. You then register your marriage at your local city or ward office. If you are both visiting Japan on tourist visas, then I think you will first need to get alien registration cards (I think it takes a few weeks) from your local city/ward office so that you are actually registered as residents.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Marriage 2006/4/10 03:27
I married my Japanese wife in Japan on my tourist visa but that is probably a different case as my wife was registered as living in Japan at that time.
A Japanese wedding is basically just filling out a paper and dropping it off at the City Hall, you don't even have to go there as a couple, there is no ceremony involed. Half a year later we had a Shinto ceremony which was a lot of fun and which I could recommend to all couples, mixed, foreign or Japanese :-)
by Kappa rate this post as useful

So... 2006/4/10 05:04
Does anyone have contact information for the city hall, such as address or website?

You dropped it off? Does this mean you don't need witnesses?

by Josh rate this post as useful

City hall 2006/4/10 08:18

Where will you be living in Japan? Once you know that, many cities/wards have websites with basic information for residents in English, including details of where the city hall is. Most - if not all - cities have Wikipedia entries, which generally include external links to the official website for that city.

The witnesses you require just have to sign the marriage registration form. They don't haven't to go to the city hall with you. As Kappa also says, you don't even need to go as a couple.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

... 2006/4/10 08:43
If I recall, Josh you will be just visiting to get married, not to live in Japan, right? Then I really don't know. Since Japanese legel wedding is just reporting that you are getting married to the city/ward hall normally where you are registered as resident(s)...
by AK rate this post as useful

Thank you 2006/4/10 08:45
That's very good news. We won't be living in Japan as we are only there for our shinto ceremony and honeymoon, that is why I was looking for the information on where to obtain the forms. I'll check out the wikipedia entry.

Thank you.
by Josh rate this post as useful

well.... 2006/4/10 08:54
Pricilla (Elvis's daughter) recently got married that way in Kyoto. You can ask her but I don't have her number. For legalization, you have to file papers and get married in your country.
by cc rate this post as useful

Thanks 2006/4/10 11:28
Actually I only have to send a translated copy of the marraige certificate from Japan to the government register in my country and we are legally married, no separate marraige is needed.

Thanks for the information, if I knew how to contact her I definitely would...:/
by Josh rate this post as useful

wedding 2006/4/10 13:24
you should check your local laws about getting married overseas because even though you registered your marriage in Japan it may not be recognized where you live. Secondly the US embassy in Tokyos website is for peopel living in Japan not for foreigners visitng Japan jsut to get married as people rarely do that.

To register your marriage accordign to Yokohama city hall for example see here

since you dont live here though there is no reason to register your marriage which according to Japaense law means you are not married ceremony or not.
by may rate this post as useful

Thanks 2006/4/10 14:33
That's why I'm trying to find contact information for the city hall in Tokyo. If anyone can give me the details I will be able to check.
by Josh rate this post as useful

... 2006/4/10 14:38
We won't be living in Japan as we are only there for our shinto ceremony and honeymoon

Then I recommend you to just have a ceremony and honeymoon in Japan and do all the legal stuff in your home country. It will be much easier!
by Uji rate this post as useful

Some honeymoon... 2006/4/10 15:08

There is no one city hall in Tokyo, as Tokyo is divided up into wards for administrative purposes, so you need to go to your local ward office. It's all rather academic though, since if you are just staying at a hotel somewhere, I don't think you'll be able to obtain alien registration, and without that, you won't get any further.
In short, I would second Uji's suggestion. Do what Priscilla Presley did and have a fancy shinto wedding ceremony, but don't waste your precious time in Japan rushing back and forth between your embassy and ward office trying to get all the necessary paperwork ready in time. It's just bizarre.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Re: Two Americans married in Japan 2006/4/10 16:03
We won't be living in Japan as we are only there for our shinto ceremony and honeymoon
I agree with Uji, get legally married in your own country and get the Shinto ceremony in Japan. In that case you'll also skip the hassle of having to register your marriage back home for which you require official translations and a lot of other paper work again. Note that a Shinto ceremony is just a ceremony and has no legal implications and you don't need any paperwork from the embassy, City Hall, etc. Any married couple can have it and I'm led to believe that it is getting really popular for foreigners to do so while the Japanese couples go for a western wedding more often :-)

We organized our Shinto ceremony ourselves but probably there are companies doing it for a fee.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

Thanks everyone 2006/4/10 16:09
I definitely understand everyone's suggestion and I had it myself, but it's important to her that we have the ceremony and are actually married around the same time. Since our marraige there is also legal here, it would mean a lot to her. She also likes the idea of us having a marriage certificate in Japanese. :)

I finally called the US Embassy in Tokyo and they said they "believe" that it would be fine since our VISA, once stamped, gives us a floating address of sorts at the US Embassy, but they could not be certain. They recommended that we call one of the city wards ourself, unfortunately, we don't speak much Japanese and might find a language barrier. He gave me a phone number of 01181353782111. I'll give it a go tomorrow as I can't at the moment.

If anyone else has any information to give I would definitely appreciate the help.

by Josh rate this post as useful

Get to the very bottom of this 2006/4/10 16:33
In that case you're doing the right thing by trying to get to the bottom of this; try to get the Japanese documents that describe how the City Hall should handle a marriage like yours.
You'll find that the first reaction of a City Hall official is "Can't be done, not possible" when asked about something he/she is not familiar with as I found out when I wanted to marry in Japan to a Japanese national. That foreigners were marrying Japanese nationals everywhere else didn't change her mind. "Can't be done" was the only thing we got out of her until my brother in law went to a slightly larger City Hall and brought back the paperwork :-)
If you end up with such a public servant it is like talking to a brick wall. "Not possible", she looked down and we were supposed to leave. Well, I'm sorry to say I reacted in a very non-Japanese way by suggesting she looked it up if she didn't know :-)

Sorry I can't help you with the details.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

Paperwork back home 2006/4/10 16:42
PS: Eventhough a marriage in Japan is legal in your country, you still need to look in what papers to bring back and what to do back home. In my case I had to get an apostille for the marriage certificate at the Foreign Department (took 1 day) and had it translated at the Japanese embassy back home. If I hadn't registered my marriage back home, all official papers would assume time and time again that I was still single and I had to sort that out time and time again. Your embassy in Japan knows how to handle this.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

sorry - irrelevant side remark 2006/4/10 17:20
Well, I'm sorry to say I reacted in a very non-Japanese way by suggesting she looked it up if she didn't know :-)

I think many Japanese people would have done something similar. The awareness among residents (and civil servants), that civil servants get paid by the residents' taxes in order to serve the residents, seems to have increased considerably over the last few decades. Many residents will deal in quite a confrontational way with lousy civil servants like the one you encountered.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Japanese way 2006/4/10 17:51
Well, I'm sorry to say I reacted in a very non-Japanese way by suggesting she looked it up if she didn't know
My parents in law found it rather embarrasing that I insisted; especially when I wanted to talk to the public servant's manager :-)
by Kappa rate this post as useful

... 2006/4/11 10:42
In my case it was just the opposite. I found it rather embarrassing when my Japanese wife made a big fuss regarding a similar incident at the city hall :) I guess it depends on the person.
by Uji rate this post as useful

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