In recent years, the average age of first marriage in Japan has been around 30 years old for both men and women. About 50 years ago, the average age of women was under 25 years old, but since then it has been on the rise, in part because more and more women are pursuing higher education and professional careers. Nowadays, there is a wide range of marriage ages for both men and women. In the midst of this trend of late marriages, the increase in the unmarried rate, especially among women, is a social problem: about 60% of Japanese women by the age of 29 are not married.
More than 90% of marriages in Japan today are romantic marriages. What percentage of the rest is matchmaking, and it’s been declining since the war. Even though arranged marriages are becoming less popular, there are advantages for those who have few opportunities to meet the opposite sex. In fact, couples in arranged marriages have a lower divorce rate than couples in love marriages. The matchmaking process begins with a matchmaker introducing the person to the matchmaker using photos and a resume. They are mostly relatives, friends, and seniors at work.
Matchmakers are usually not professionals, but people who like to take care of people. They are not paid for this role, but are usually given a gift by the couple after their wedding. If both parties agree to meet, a matchmaker will arrange a first meeting. Couples meet over time and ultimately decide whether to marry or not. Nowadays, computers are being used to provide you with a place to meet people. It seems that the number of marriages of couples who first met in internet chat rooms is starting to rise.
According to a newspaper survey, the average cost of a marriage in recent years is about 3.48 million yen, including the ceremony, wedding reception, honeymoon, and other items. Foreigners may be surprised to hear how much money the Japanese are spending on kimono and dress rentals for relatively short weddings and receptions. Some elaborate wedding kimono rentals are around 200,000 yen, which is about 10% of the price of a kimono.
In addition to the white silk, which is the centerpiece of traditional Japanese weddings, new styles have been introduced one after another, such as variations of furi-sode, organdy fabrics and modern arrangements. The increasing number of kimono options for weddings has also contributed to the popularity of traditional costumes.
Irouchihake is a color other than white and decorated with auspicious items such as cranes and turtle shells that symbolize longevity and prosperity. Furisode became popular as a wedding dress for samurai women in the late Edo period. It has a long hem and is characterized by the wearing of a headdress of an axe comb.
Furisode is a colorful long-sleeved kimono worn by unmarried women. The coming-of-age ceremony for 20-year-old men and women, which takes place every January, is a festival of colorful furisode. Many brides wear a western wedding dress at the wedding ceremony and change into a furisode at the reception, the last thing many people wear before they start their married life.
In Japan, weddings at shrines have become mainstream since the emperor of the time once held a wedding at a shrine. Until then, most weddings were held in the bride and groom’s home. Nowadays, Shinto weddings are rarely seen, and many people choose to have their wedding in a Christian church.
Some Christian churches also allow non-Christians to marry in their buildings.
These days, the divorce rate per 1,000 middle-aged people in Japan is twice a year, about half the rate in the United States. On the other hand, the former annual divorce rate was 0.93. In recent years, the divorce rate among elderly couples has risen because many women whose busy husbands are not at home are finding it difficult to stay at home long after their husbands have retired.
There is a Japanese proverb that says, “A healthy, constantly absent husband is the ideal.” The average number of years of marriage for divorced couples is about 10 years.