Weddings in Osaka: A Step by Step Guide

Newlyweds pose for a picture outside Osaka Castle

They say that having a wedding, moving house, and changing your job are the three most stressful things you can do in your life. During my time in Osaka, I met people who managed to do all three at once, and that was without a step by step guide! Weddings in Osaka

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in this situation. When the time comes for your big day, follow our step by step guide and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

However, in the event that you do, then hopefully this handy guide to weddings in Osaka will help ease your stress. At least a little.

First, let’s make sure that your papers are in order.

Step 1: Pre-Wedding Documents

An example of the document you and your partner will need to complete to marry in Japan

If you are a Japanese national, then getting married is a very simple process. All you need to do is take some family documents along to your nearest city ward office, and fill out a few forms. The whole process can be over in about 20 minutes.

In the case of foreigners, when marrying a Japanese national, we go through the same process. However, there are a couple of extra steps required beforehand.

In addition to the documents Japanese nationals have to submit, foreigners also need the following:

  1. Proof of your nationality and identity (ordinarily this would be your passport and Foreign Resident Registration Card).
  2. Documentary evidence that you are free to marry from your country of origin.
  3. A certified copy of your birth certificate.

Planning Ahead

This is the step in the process where things can get a little complicated. You should allow at least a couple of weeks ahead of your wedding date in order to get these papers prepared. The birth certificate is self-explanatory. Point 2, however, is a little more complex. Basically, you need to obtain a certified document from your country’s consulate or embassy in Japan. This certifies that you are legally single and free to marry. In the case of UK or US nationals, this involves making an appointment to visit the embassy in Tokyo. You can then obtain the relevant document there. Forms can be found online for the UK here, and the US here. You’ll need to obtain the copy of your birth certificate (if you don’t already have it) before beginning this process.

The complete application must then be submitted in person at the embassy. To do so, you will need to make an appointment at the UK or US embassy using the links above.

Depending on your country of origin, and that country’s diplomatic presence in Japan, you may have to also request other documents from your home country. In this case, allow at least 6 weeks for this to come through. It is probably a good idea to go to your local ward office with your partner a month or two ahead of your intended wedding date to double check exactly what documents you need to obtain. These can vary from country to country. Without a doubt, this step is the one that holds up more applications for marriage than any other.

Step 2: Getting Documents Translated

Knowing who is and who isn’t legally qualified to translate your documents is essential.

Once you have obtained your documents, they all need translating into Japanese. Though it may seem like a simple procedure, this is where many marriage applicants in Osaka can come unstuck. It is very important to use only a legally certified translator.

The documents you will submit form part of a legally binding document under Japanese law. As such, the translator who translates them from your native language into Japanese needs to be qualified legally to do so. Your ward center should be able to provide a list of locally available translators who are appropriately certified.

Also, when commissioning translations, always make sure to double check with the translator that everything is correct before they send you the final documents. Even a minor error could lead to your translated document being rejected, depending on how officious the person at the counter in the ward office wants to be that day.

A note on Translation Companies

A quick google search will also show a number of companies who offer to do these translations. The amount they charge can vary drastically. In my own case, I paid just over 12,000 yen to have both my birth certificate and my affidavit from the UK Embassy translated into Japanese. However, this was through a Nagoya based translator, who works independently.

If possible, I recommend that you avoid using the larger translation firms based in Tokyo that you will most commonly find online. Not only do these agencies charge you a lot more, but they also pay the translator a lot less.

I would recommend the services of my translator, Masafumi Yamada. His contact details can be found on his homepage. His rates are very reasonable and he was able to complete and send out my documents within a week.

Step 3: Go to the Ward Office and Formalize Everything

Weddings in Osaka
The Ward Office in Osaka’s Minato Ward. Not exactly the place where most people would envisage getting married. However, thousands do exactly that every year.

If there’s one thing the Japanese have a flair for, it is drenching even the most mundane of tasks under waves of bureaucracy. However, assuming that you have carried out all the above preparation with due diligence, the actual formalizing of your marriage is a very straightforward process. On the day, be sure to bring your passport, your ID card, your personal seal (known in Japanese as a hanko), all the necessary documents (both originals and translations) and of course your husband or wife to be!

Your Japanese partner should have completed a form from the ward office already. You will need to sign this and add in some of your own details too. When you collect this form from the ward office ahead of your wedding, take a few copies. This way, you can have at least a couple of attempts to get everything written down correctly before preparing your final draft.

Do all you can to make sure this is completed entirely and accurately. Again, it will save a lot of time and unnecessary hassle later.

Provided the ward office isn’t too busy that day, you can step in and out of the building in well under an hour. In some cases, I know of friends in Osaka for whom it only took about 20 minutes.

Step 4: Do you Want to have a Wedding Ceremony or Celebration?

weddings in osaka
A bride and groom in traditional Shinto wedding attire.

This is where opinion my split among our readers. Depending on your financial status, the size of your family and friends circle and the logistics involved, you may decide that a formal wedding ceremony is unnecessary. When we married last year, my wife and I concluded that the money for a wedding party should instead go towards getting our own home and visiting my family back in Europe.

However, if you’re in Osaka and you want to have that special wedding day event, then there’s no shortage of venues waiting to accommodate you.

For your consideration, here are’s recommended top 5 wedding venues in Osaka.

Sumiyoshi Taisha

The entrance to Sumiyoshi Taisha

If you want to go for the full-on, traditional Japanese wedding, then there is no better place to do so in Osaka than Sumiyoshi Taisha. A traditional Japanese wedding can be very expensive however and includes only the ceremony itself. You also have the option of including a meal for your guests in the package, but this will also add to your final bill. The affordability of a Shinto wedding at a shrine depends largely on your own budget and how many people you plan to invite. Prices at Sumiyoshi Taisha start from 810,000 yen for a wedding ceremony only, and the ability to invite up to 30 guests.

At the other end of the scale, a wedding followed by a reception and meal for up to 80 people will set you back 2.8 million yen.

There are numerous options in-between these two extremes to suit a variety of budgets. For example, a wedding ceremony and smaller scale reception (30 guests) will cost you 1.3 million yen. Almost all options include a wedding photoshoot as well. Japanese wedding kimonos are, in some cases, even more expensive than the ceremonies themselves. So many couples opt to hire wedding attire rather than buy it.

Castle Garden Osaka

Osaka Castle forms the perfect backdrop to weddings at Castle Garden Osaka.

Perhaps you and your beloved want something a little more westernized, whilst still capturing that unique Osaka charm. If that’s the case then Castle Garden Osaka could be the place for you. Located within the Jo-Terrace Osaka Shopping Mall, Castle Garden Osaka is a high-class restaurant specializing in French cuisine. The restaurant is one of the few in Osaka to have a Michelin Star to it’s the name. Their adjoining wedding chapel allows couples to have their ceremony and reception all under one roof. The chapel also affords guests beautiful views of the nearby Osaka Castle and its park complex.

Travel is convenient too, as the venue is only about 2 minutes’ walk from Osaka-Jo Koen Station, on the JR Loop Line. Prices vary seasonally, and depend also on whether you want a formal or more casual wedding setting. For a direct consultation, please check out Castle Garden Osaka’s homepage.

Avancer Lien Osaka

Weddings in Osaka
Just one of the luxurious decor options offered at Avancer Lien.

If, like me, you’re a big fan of movies and the wonders they conjure up in our imaginations, then perhaps you’ve always dreamed of a wedding at Universal Studios Japan.

Well, the theme park itself doesn’t offer on-site weddings unfortunately, but Avancer Lien is probably the next best thing. The venue lies right next to USJ, just outside Universal City Station, on the JR Yumesaki Line.

The venue offers excellent value for money too. Depending on the season when you get married, a package including the ceremony and dinner for up to 60 guests will cost just under 1.7 million yen. There also optional discounts covering the often hidden extras such as wedding attire, flowers, and the services of a wedding administrator, depending on how many guests you bring.

For more details, have a look at the Avancer Lien Osaka homepage.

St. Raphael Chapel

weddings in osaka
The sumptuous surroundings of St. Raphael Chapel.

Perhaps you have more of a traditional church setting in mind for your wedding. If so, then undoubtedly one of the most visually striking wedding venues in the city of Osaka is St. Raphael Chapel. With its décor reminiscent of Renaissance Era Europe, and a layout that will make anyone who has ever visited a Catholic church feel right at home, St. Raphael is definitely one for the more religiously inclined. However, even if you’re not that way inclined, just the aesthetics alone make this beautiful venue worthy of consideration. It’s stain glass windows and gorgeous altar are some of the most beautiful modern interpretations of classical church style you will find in Osaka.

Again, prices vary wildly here, though they still tend to be cheaper than the likes of Sumiyoshi Taisha. For more information consult the St. Raphael homepage.

ArtGrace Wedding Coast

weddings in osaka
With palm trees and open seas, Suminoe Ward provides a little slice of paradise, amidst Osaka’s urban sprawl.

Our final option will be music to the ears of those feeling somewhat rattled by the figures being banded around in this article thus far. ArtGrace Wedding Coast offer classical European-style aesthetics and the kind of stunning, panoramic sea views that only Suminoe Ward can offer. Perhaps more importantly, they also offer a “best value” guarantee, promising to match or better any price you’ve been offered for a similar ceremony elsewhere.

Having spent my early childhood in a seaside town on the English Riviera, there’s something strangely nostalgic about ArtGrace Wedding Coast that resonates with me personally. Anyone else who loves a good sea view will, probably feel similar when they visit. It is my personal pick of the venues showcased here today.

A Final Note About Wedding Costs

While the cost of weddings in Japan may seem nightmarish, especially if you are also trying to set up a home and relocate at the same time, there is a positive twist to this story.

Japanese etiquette dictates that when you receive an invitation to a friend or work colleague’s wedding, you should bring along a financial gift to the tune of 30,000 yen.

Now, take some of the prices quoted here today and divide that cost amongst your guests. Suddenly, the amount doesn’t seem anywhere near as daunting, does it?

In fact, truth be told, it’s not that unusual for couples in Japan to actually turn a profit on their wedding. So, with a bit of luck and some good forward planning, you may actually have some money left over to start your new life together.

In any case, if you’re planning a wedding anytime soon, then please think of Osaka when choosing your venue. It may not have the most romantic story in the world, but this great city has a character few places on Earth can match. And in the long run, isn’t that what makes true love last a lifetime?


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