The Complete Guide to Planning a Japan Wedding

A one-of-a-kid soiree in a multi-sensory paradise.
Chureito Pagoda and Mt.Fuji at sunset in Japan
Photo: Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
The Knot Contributor
  • Beth Ann writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, including venues, honeymoons and planning advice.
  • Beth Ann is a lifestyle freelance writer, with bylines on and
  • Prior to freelancing, Beth Ann was a writer and editor for Long Island Pulse Magazine.
Updated Apr 19, 2024
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When landing on spots for best destination weddings, Europe and Caribbean locales are tried and dream-come-true picks—and for good reasons. From cobblestone streets and centuries-old architecture to sugary-sand beaches, they're dripping in romance. However, a Japanese wedding is an out-of-this-world paradise all its own.

Japan is a multi-sensory heaven that is complete with forests, beaches, culture and food. Truly, "The Land of the Rising Sun" has enchantment at every turn. Speaking of which, an early-morning wakeup call to get ready on your big day will actually be a stunning event rather than an inconvenience—Japan is known for its second-to-none sunrises.

Like any far-flung affair, a destination wedding in Japan requires extra attention to detail. For instance, how do you go about getting a marriage license in Japan, and how do you navigate transportation? (Good news on the latter: Many airlines offer direct flights to Japan, especially Tokyo.) You'll also likely be booking and communicating with Japanese wedding venues and vendors from afar. Japan destination wedding planners can help with these efforts.

However, we've compiled a comprehensive guide to planning an unforgettable Japan destination wedding to get you started.

Why Couples and Wedding Guests Love Japan Weddings

Fuji Mountain and Pink Sakura Branches Japan destination wedding
Photo: DoctorEgg / Getty Images

Japan can feel off-the-beaten-path. It doesn't have the same "go-to" reputation as places like France or Aruba. It may be a bucket-list country—or even an out-of-reach travel goal—for some, so your guests can use your destination wedding in Japan as an excuse to indulge in some serious wanderlust.

The scenery and opportunities for adventure are endless. Between parties, guests and couples can meander alleyways and serene Zen bamboo forests (a perfect antidote to pre-wedding jitters), visit ancient temples and take in the site of the imposingly gorgeous Mount Fuji. Authentic Japanese cuisine will offer a delicious touch to your pre-wedding party and big-day menus.

Though Japan is a far-flung locale, transportation is simple to navigate. It's accessible via most airlines. Once there, a Japan Rail Pass is clutch in getting you from point A to point B.

Pro tip: Invite a destination wedding travel expert to join your vendor team. Browse travel agents near you on The Knot Marketplace for planning expertise, group hotel blocks, flight arrangements and more.

The Best Places to Get Married in Japan

Japan's diverse landscape offers a backdrop for every vision. When getting married in Japan, mountains, cityscapes, gardens (complete with cherry blossoms in the spring) and beaches are all on the table.


Kabukicho, Tokyo destination wedding in Japan
Photo: DuKai photographer / Getty Images

Japan's bustling megapolitan capital—all 23 wards of it—seamlessly blends contemporary and ancient charm. Neon-lit skyscrapers and postcard-perfect Tokyo Tower juxtapose beautifully alongside Meiji Shinto Shrine, surrounded by woods and set behind a soaring gate. To get an authentic taste of just how "bustling" Tokyo is, walk the Shibuya Crossing, which is considered the busiest pedestrian walkway on the planet. Guests can then retreat to the Imperial Palace's sprawling gardens. Many museums in the city showcase classic art and theater. Tokyo has nightlife and no shortage of restaurants or hotels, making finding spots to tie the knot and host other parties easier.


Red torii gates with Mt. Fuji and Hakone in Kanagawa of Japan
Photo: Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty Images

Hakone is a true oasis found an hour southwest of Tokyo in Japan's Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Known for its hot spring resorts, the mountainous town invites relaxation in luxurious yet naturally stunning settings. Those resorts have some of the island nation's best views of Mount Fuji and the Lake Ashinoko that precedes it. Pairs and guests can soak in hot springs, tour Lake Ashinoko by boat and peruse the 70,000-square-foot Hakone Open-Air Museum, the first-of-its-kind in Japan.


Old buildings in the Higashiyama district, Kyoto
Photo: © Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Kyoto is a city that was once Japan's capital. These days, it's more of a quiet respite from the current capital, though. Set on the island of Honshu, Kyoto is home to a fair share of Buddhist temples, tranquil gardens, wooden houses and imperial palaces, including gold-leaf-covered Kinkakuji. It's a place to experience Zen amid the controlled chaos of a wedding and explore the Land of the Rising Sun's quieter, older soul. A sunrise voyage to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove to explore its large bamboo stalks is in order (and will let you beat the heat—and crowds).


Dotonbori district night, Osaka, Japan
Photo: © Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Urban jungle meets a waterfront oasis in Osaka, a port city in Honshu. The iconic, restored Osaka Castle is a true fairytale landmark to put on your itinerary—just got past the two moats. In the spring, the grounds are truly cherry blossom heaven (peach and plum trees have also taken root). While the natural scenery is plentiful, Osaka is also home to the first Universal Studios to open in Asia, Universal Studios Japan. What's more, delectable street food, lively nightlife and contemporary buildings give the city a modern appeal.

Pro tip: As you consider wedding locations, remember your newlywed vacation. Plan an amazing Japan honeymoon with our complete guide.

The Top Japan Destination Wedding Hotels

Couple enjoying amenities at Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto wedding venue in Japan
Photo: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

Whether you have your heart set on getting married in Japan or are still exploring the idea, having a feel for the type of venues available is helpful. Some of the most stunning Japan wedding venues are set inside hotels. There are benefits to this feature, notably that pairs and guests won't have to navigate additional transportation after traveling for a destination wedding in Japan. The hotels are often brimming with backdrops, offering plenty of chances for scene changes. Some may include Japan wedding packages with built-in perks like planning services, decor and vendors.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, Tokyo

What doesn't The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo have? The towering 53-story high-rise in the Roppongi District has views for days of some of Japan's most significant landmarks, including the Imperial Palace and Mount Fuji. As full of luxury as views, the hotel has a spa and an entire floor dedicated to health and wellness (pre-wedding pampering and relaxation, anyone?). Venues include a chic chapel with Swarovski crystal-embedded windows that give way to Hinoki-cho Park and a more traditional shrine. An elegant ballroom was tailor-made for dinner and dancing, and The Parkview Room has large windows that allow Japan's natural light to pour in.

Grand Prince Hotel, Osaka Bay

A five-star luxury hotel near Port of Osaka and Universal Studios, Grand Prince Hotel offers easy access to main attractions and a respite from it all (thanks in part to an on-site spa). The spacious grounds provide numerous settings for ceremonies and receptions during a destination wedding in Japan. Choose between a waterside, bright and airy whitewashed chapel or a cypress-scented one with a wooden, umbrella-like ceiling. The reception can take place in a mansion-style or villa setting. Grand Prince Hotel has Japan wedding packages that accommodate intimate affairs of 10 to 50 guests.

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, Kyoto

Nestled by a hillside, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is steps from local restaurants and shops. It's also less than three miles from Kiyomizu-Dera, a Buddhist temple atop a hill. Though it's by some of the area's main attractions, an on-site garden, 800-year-old pond and spa invite couples to enter a serene state of mind. In the spring, cherry blossoms can be seen from the windows of a bamboo-framed chapel that's sun-drenched year-round. It's a quintessentially Japanese place to say, "I do." Seasoned Japan wedding planners can help you flawlessly execute your dream fête with bespoke assistance that allows you to make the day truly yours.

Pro tip: Once you've decided on your Japan wedding venue, send out destination wedding save-the-dates with important info so your guest can book the time off and start thinking about travel plans.

Red Shinto Pagoda on Miyajima
Photo: traumlichtfabrik / Getty Images

A Japan wedding is a memorable experience, to say the least. However, you'll want to make sure your marriage is legally binding. Couples can legally tie the knot during a Japan wedding, though it will involve some extra planning. A Japan wedding planner can help you navigate the steps, and the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Japan's website has valuable information. However, the official word on the process of getting married in Japan ultimately comes from the municipal office of your chosen venue. Here's an overview of the particulars of getting a marriage license in Japan and other legal logistics.

Couples getting married in Japan can do so symbolically or legally. If you choose to make your destination wedding in Japan symbolic, you'll take care of the legal paperwork in your hometown. Essentially, you'll go to town hall, sign the necessary paperwork and present documentation that you can legally marry. With that out of the way, you'll have a separate symbolic ceremony in front of family and friends. You can also host a legal wedding in Japan if your heart is set on it.

To get married in Japan, you'll need to fill out some extra forms and present a valid US passport. First, all foreign citizens must prepare a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry that shows they are legally allowed to marry. It must be filled out in non-erasable pens and notarized. The form is two pages long—one for you to complete in English, and the second page will contain the same information but ultimately be translated into Japanese. The English page has to be notarized by a consular office.

You'll also need to fill out a request for registration of marriage, known in Japan as a Kon-in Todoke. It must be signed by two witnesses over the age of 18. You should also check the municipal office of the city or town you plan to get married in to see if it has additional legal requirements, like birth certificates translated into Japanese.

There is no residency requirement for getting married in Japan. Couples will need to fill out the paperwork, submit it to the Japanese municipal government, show valid passports and ensure they don't need to present additional forms or documents. A fee of $50 is required for the notary. Armed Forces members will also want to check with their commanding officers about procedures. Once the paperwork is approved, it's valid for three months.

After the wedding, the municipal government will issue a "Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage" (Kon-in Todoke Juri Shomeisho).

Couples will need to pay $50 for notary services. A standard, A4-sized Kon-in Todoke Juri Shomeisho costs about $3, while a larger one is about $10. Couples should prepare to pay in Japanese currency (yen).

Japan Wedding Planning Tips

Japanese Sakura cherry blossom
Photo: Torsakarin / Getty Images

With the legal aspects of a Japan destination wedding figured out, it's time to get down to planning. From choosing a venue and season to determining practical matters like transportation and budget, planning a destination wedding in Japan is a journey all its own. A Japan wedding planner—either an independent one or with a venue—can help streamline the process. But couples will also want to know the particulars.

How to Get to Japan

While flights from the US to Japan are relatively long, especially compared to Caribbean and European locales, they're relatively straightforward. Unlike those locations, most major US airports have non-stop flights, and West Coasters have the shorter trek (about 11 to 12 hours). People traveling from Dallas and New York City can touch down in Tokyo in about 14 hours.

Once there, the Japan Rail train lines run for more than 118,060 miles around the island nation, taking travelers to top sites from Hokkaido to Kyushu. And guess what? Trains are known for being on time (sweet). A Japan Rail Pass will let you and yours get where you need.

Best Months to Marry in Japan

It depends on what you're looking for. March and April are cherry blossom season, the most popular time to visit Japan. However, navigating the crowds and steeper price tags is well worth it for the experience of seeing the bountiful pink blooms in person and remembering the sites through photos for forever to come.

For another colorful experience, consider the fall, when the foliage brings brightness even as the daylight hours dwindle. June and July bring wet weather and even tsunamis, and they generally aren't the ideal time to get married in Japan.

Choosing Your Japan Wedding Venue and Vendors

When planning a destination wedding in Japan, you'll likely do most of your communication with vendors from afar. Still, modern-day services like Zoom and FaceTime make it possible to meet face-to-face, albeit from different continents. As with any wedding, it's a good idea to read reviews of vendors and ask for samples of previous work. A Japan wedding planner or venue's event coordinator can be a great resource in helping you find local pros with stellar reputations and who fit your vision and budget.

When it comes time to pick a Japan wedding venue, you'll want to decide if you're looking for a package or bespoke offerings—luckily, your dream spot may have both. You'll also want to determine if you want a hotel or a different venue for the ceremony and reception. If you have distinct places that require travel, you'll need to consider how guests will get from the ceremony site to the reception and later their hotel.

Finally, you'll want to read up on venue requirements and customs. Some may require that couples and guests cover tattoos.

Budgeting Tips

It's hard to give a range for the destination wedding cost in Japan. Seasonality, venue and vendor choices will all factor into the final price tag. You'll also need to convert USD into yen. Generally, couples can expect to spend about $30,000 on a Japan wedding, which is around that of an average US wedding and more than many Caribbean destination weddings. But again, those costs can vary greatly. Larger, lavish affairs will cost more, and more intimate, minimalist soirees will naturally cost less.

Choosing a Japan wedding package with built-in vendors and decor can be one way to save. A wedding planner can also help you manage your budget. Also, Japan is brimming with natural beauty—it's part of the island nation's appeal. You may be able to save some money by leaning into that instead of opulent decor. Choosing a fall wedding instead of a spring one during the height of cherry blossom season is another way to lower costs.

Pro tip: Set up a free destination wedding website on The Knot with all the event details including your Japan wedding itinerary, things to do, guest travel information, RSVPs and more.

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