Thursday, September 22, 2011

Well that's different...

I am a big fan of tolerance.  Patience, respect, understanding…  I feel these are good ways to live life. 

Moving to a foreign country can be a tremendous exercise in all of these things.

One cultural difference that has stood out to me is Japanese weddings.  The traditional Japanese wedding is a genuinely beautiful, unique affair.

But recently, western style weddings have become extremely popular.  The fancy white dresses, tuxedos, flowers…everything typical of a western wedding.  With globalization these days, this is no surprise. 

What did surprise me was where some of these western style weddings take place.  Japanese people are typically non-religious.  Most religious people are either Buddist or Shinto, as one might expect.  There are tiny blips of the population who are Christian, Islamic, Jewish, etc., the vast majority being foreigners-not Japanese.  

Despite this, the western style weddings usually take place in buildings that have been designed to look like Christian churches.  But they are virtually only used for weddings.  So they aren’t “real” churches.  Also, as far as I understand it, the person who presides is usually a westerner chosen based on looks and English ability, not religious vocation. 

A wedding chapel we came across in Okazaki.
The chapel was right next to (and I believe affiliated with) this fancy-pantsy hotel.
Another wedding chapel in Okazaki.
This mosque was right next to the chapels.  I couldn't find any information about Islamic weddings in Japan though, so I don't know anything about why this little mosque was there. 
There seem to be many reasons for most young Japanese couples choosing western style weddings.  The fancy white dress.  The beautiful church architecture.  The freedom in choosing ones own style, going against tradition.  Etc.

I have talked to several Christian people (all foreigners) about this.  Some are extremely offended.  Some don’t care at all.  Some just think it's strange. 

What do you think?  I am especially interested in what my Japanese friends have to say about this.  What type of wedding would you choose? 
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