According to both the American and Japanese embassies, it's entirely possible for two Americans to get legally married in Japan.
It is possible, but somewhat of a hassle, especially if you don't speak/read Japanese.According to the embassy, we will need to have an affidavit of competency to marry from the consulate. Am I correct in assuming we need to do this in Japan?
You collect the affidavit at the embassy. I asked if you could use the same form and have it notarized in the US, but the embassy didn't know, so I'd probably just do it at the embassy to be sure.
You can download the forms from their site and make an appointment. Then you just show up at the appropriate time, hand in your paperwork, pay the $50 fee and you're good to go. Here's more info with links to the appropriate forms:http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7114.html I'm assuming that the fact that the form has to be completed in English and Japanese shouldn't worry me because we'll be completing it there...
No, it should worry you as the embassy will not help you fill out the forms. If you don't read/write Japanese then you will need to hire a translator to help you out.I see that we may need to have certified copies of our translated birth certificates, but I am clueless as to go about obtaining them.
Get a copy of your birth certificate from the appropriate office in the US. Photocopies will not be accepted. Then you can either translate them yourself, or hire a professional translator to do so for you.I think this is all it takes to get legally married in Japan. The notarial documents, potentially the Japanese certified copies of birth certificates, then going to the municipal office to complete the procedure.
You also need two witnesses, although you may be able to get some of the office staff to stand in for you. Also there were some tax forms and employer forms, but I don't think those will apply to you as tourists.
The main problem is that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get this done if you don't speak/read/write any Japanese, or know anyone in Japan who can help you. You may want to consider hiring a translator.I'd HATE having gave up a wedding in favor of this incredible experience, just to be told I do not have the necessary documents.
Not to be a mood killer, but I wouldn't call it an incredible experience. Its more like a visit to the dmv or post office. You visit a nondescript public building, hand in some forms, sign a paper, and you're unceremoniously finished.
If its the idea of doing it in Japan that does it for you then why not. But personally, I'd have a civil ceremony in the US to get all the legal stuff out of the way, and then have a small ceremony in Japan, perhaps at a small shrine. They're relatively inexpensive and there are companies out there who will help you arrange it. That'd be a far more memorable experience than the waiting in lines, communication difficulties, and bureaucracy that getting married in Japan entails.