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Japanese Fiancee Customs Requests 2008/3/26 13:49
My Canadian (non Japanese) son is engaged to be married to a Japanese woman whom he met in Japan while working there. They dated in Japan for 2 years and long distance for 1 year before becoming engaged. She moved to Canada to live with him and apply for Canadian immigration 2 years ago. Recently she has requested that my husband and myself participate in what she calls a very important Japanese engagement custom. She has explained it as a custom in which the in-laws make a list of challenging questions to ask the bride and if she can't answer them correctly she has to return to Japan and not get married. We are perplexed by this request and have insisted that we do not wish to participate. She said it is very important and this past weekend she came to visit us in hopes that we would change our minds. Our son also wants us to participate. He told us that his fiancee talks about it constantly and is preparing for our questions, he said she is very nervous and sick over possibly not being able to answer our questions correctly. The problem is that we don't have any questions for her. Part of me thinks that she may want a way out of this marriage and thinks that she can use this custom as her way out. She is always very polite and loving to our son but we are very confused by this recent request - they have been engaged for 2 years already.
by Sue  

Custom? 2008/3/26 14:49

I wouldn't like to stick my neck out and say that such a peculiar custom doesn't exist in some regional part of Japan, but I have never heard of anything like it before. My immediate reaction is much like yours: that she is perhaps looking for some way to get out of the relationship without losing face. It might be time to have a calm but serious talk with your son about whether everything between them really is OK.
If you otherwise like the woman, I would suggest not participating in this "custom", clearly stating that you like her and have no reason to want to make it difficult for her to marry your son.
Please let us know how it works out.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

... 2008/3/26 15:10
I have never heard of such a custom - myself being a Japanese woman born and raised in Tokyo and surrounding area - but have they been engaged for two years?? One thing I can think of is that she *wants* to get married, but since they don't seem to have any opportunity to say, hey, let's get married now, or any critical challenge that requires them to work together to get through, so for her it might be an opportunity or a challenge to get some good decision-making going :)

Please don't confront her saying that there is no such custom; asking her what she *really* wants might help...
by AK rate this post as useful

Thanks for your help 2008/3/27 00:22
Thank you for your help and suggestions. I think that she is very traditional because my son also participated in the custom of "Yuinou". This may be a very traditional custom. The reason that they have waiting so long to get married is because they are saving money to get married in Hawaii. She doesn't work and my son is still apprenticing and is not making much money. We did encourage them to get married right away in our home town but they have insisted on having their wedding in Hawaii which will cost considerably more. She comes for a very wealthy family in Tokyo but she doesn't receive any financial help from them. They want to pay for the wedding themselves and plan on setting the date one year from now. It has been very hard for them to save money because she has taken many costly trips home to Japan for months at a time, which has also delayed her immigration process.
by Sue rate this post as useful

just a thought 2008/3/27 17:01
Sue, have you kept in touch with her parents either directly or through your son? Since you are going to become relatives, I see why not.

Because (and I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I am serious) the first impression I got from your post is that she needs psychiatric help. Or if such a weird custom really exists in my hometown Tokyo, her parents would be able to explain all about it to you.

By the way, you probably know that yuino is indeed a typical traditional custom to announce official engagement and does not require any "nervous" questioning to send someone home.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Her parents don't speak English 2008/3/27 23:00
Thanks for your help.

I would love to contact her parents to form a relationship with them, however, they do not speak any English.

Our son did participated in the "Yuino" tradition - in the style where he was asked to bring quite a large sum of money to Japan (he saved for months) to present to her parents with the understanding that it was just "good faith" money and that they would refuse it.

I getting the impression that she is very traditional even for Japanese standards. Last year her older sister got married and she returned to Japan for the wedding. She showed us photos of her sisters wedding and it was very modern - white brides gown and all the guest dressed in very modern clothes except for our future daughter-in-law. She was the only guest dressed in a kimono - and she was NOT in the wedding party, even her mother was dressed in a very modern outfit. She appears to be a traditionalist.

Could this "Challenging Questions Custom" that she is requesting be some sort of very ancient tradition?

We are concerned that we may insult her if we do not participate in this but we just don't have a clear understanding of what it is.

We do like her and our son it crazy about her.
by Sue rate this post as useful

third party 2008/3/27 23:32
Sue, how does your son communicate with his future in-laws? Only through his girlfriend?

I wouldn't worry about it if the couple wasn't facing any problems, but to me it doesn't sound healthy that there is no other mutual aquaintence to communicate with when you want to discuss about this girl.

Does she have a friend you can talk to? How about her sister? Or do you think you can have a letter translated for her parents? Otherwise, I can only suggest you to go for it (the what-you-may-call-it custom) and see what happens. Why not just make up easy questions.

Whether the custom is ancient or not doesn't matter. I think an average Japanese would simply think it's unnecessary for her to get so nervous about it. That's what would make me worry if I were in your shoes.

To me it sounds like your son is trying to marry an extremely sensitive woman who needs to do things "the right way". What matters probably is whether or not your son is prepared for a life with that kind of person. Maybe he is, but that is the part you should make sure about since he should be doing all the explaining to you in the future.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Interesting 2008/3/27 23:33
What is the Japanese name for this custom? There should be a Japanese word if this is such an important custom. I have never heard of it. If there is no Japanese word for this custom, I doubt if it exists.
by Married to a Japanese woman rate this post as useful

"yuinou-kin" = engagement money 2008/3/27 23:37
I didn't explain the about the money tradition that my son participated in very well, it is called "yuinou-kin", engagement money. I know this is a very rare tradition: the Groom's Family is suppose to send "yuinou-kin =engagement money" to the bride's side meaning, "Please buy new furniture for the couple once they are married with this money." The average yuinoukin is about 1 million yen.

I think that this tradition is only practiced in very conservative and traditional families - Could the other "Questions tradition" she has requested, be part of this - I can't find any information about it - at least not in English.
by Sue rate this post as useful

Just ask her 2008/3/28 00:03
Is it possible to ask her what the name of this tradition is? I don't think it is linked to yuinou-kin. Also, do you know where the parents are from? Knowing the parents roots might shed some light on this.
by Married to a Japanese woman rate this post as useful

yui-nou-kin 2008/3/28 11:25
I would be interested in knowing the name of the questioning custom too. It would be easier to search details on the internet.

About Yui-nou-kin (literally meaning "engagement money"), that is a very common custom in Japan, still practiced today by many people. Actually, the bride side is supposed to pay "Yui-nou-gaeshi (literally meaning "engagement pay back") which will be equavalent to half the yuinoukin or less.

People who don't follow this tradition end up paying money for house and wedding and expenses anyway though, as it is in any country. Typically the bride-groom pays for the house, and the bride pays for the furnitures. Typically, the bride groom ends up paying more, which is practical since it is likely that men still earn more wages. But I know a lot of Japanese couples where the wife earns more, and thus the payment related to their wedding and new life is leaned toward the bride.
by Uco rate this post as useful

kimono 2008/3/28 13:32
Just a note on a previous post where you mentioned that your future daughter in law was the only one wearing a kimono at her sister`s wedding. That isn`t as `traditional` as you may think, as in this day in age both a dress or a kimono are considered equally appropriate and totally up to the attendee. Many girls wear kimono to weddings even if they are the most modern and fashionable girls in everyday life. In fact, girls often buy or have bought for them a kimono when they turn 20 (coming of age celebrations) and use it again when going to other people`s weddings.

by daughter rate this post as useful

Thanks for insight 2008/3/28 13:44
Thanks you so much for all of the very insightful responses. I am learning so much more about the Japanese culture. I'm finding it fascinating. I will try and find out if there is a name for the "questioning ceremony" my daughter-in-law has spoken about.

To answer a previous question that was posted - my son speaks a little Japanese but mostly his communication with his future in-laws has been through his fiancee.
by Sue rate this post as useful

Interesting 2008/3/28 14:55
Hi, I was born in very conservative country side of Japan, which is very famous for a gorgeous wedding ceremonies, but I have never heard of "questioning ceremony" , either.

I'm just curious but who knows if your daughtor in law could answer your questions correctly or not
if none of her family member speaks or understands English? Who cares?
by crouton1 rate this post as useful

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