Japan is popular among couples who are drawn to the charm of wedding destinations, and it’s also the home of the best wedding venues, not only in Asia but in the world as well.
The country’s scenic landscapes, exceptional cuisine, and the fascinating blend of Japan’s traditional and contemporary culture, among others, make it a dream place to visit among local and foreign tourists, including couples who want to exchange vows in wedding venues that are as eccentric and as astonishing as Japan itself.
In Japan, the choice of venue depends on the type of wedding ceremonies the couple wants, be it traditional Shintoism or Buddhism wedding, European-inspired or Christian marriage, or even non-religious wedding ceremonies.
The Best Shrines and Temples for a Wedding Ceremony
Shinto or “the way of the Gods” is still being practiced in Japan by nearly more than half of the Japanese population. Shintoism is one of the reasons why some couples choose the traditional Shinto wedding ceremony held mostly on shrine grounds. The traditional Shinto wedding limits the crowd that will be attending the ceremony to only close family members of the groom and the bride only.
If you like your wedding to be akin to the traditional Shinto style, here are some of the best wedding venues you might want to consider.
1. Meiji Jingu, Tokyo. Exchanging vows in Meiji Jingu somehow gives your wedding a touch of royalty, especially that it is a shrine that has a unique and deep connection to the royal household. The shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo was built for the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken of Japan from 1915 to 1926.
It is one of the must-visit shrines in Tokyo, and it is also famous for its gazillion of wedding events. A wedding ceremony in Meiji Jingu is common year-round, especially during spring and autumn seasons, that onlookers witness at least ten wedding ceremonies on weekends. You might stumble upon one yourself on your next visit to the shrine. If you are the bride and you choose Meiji Jingu as your wedding venue, be ready to be wed like a princess.
2. Heian Jingu, Kyoto. Imagine walking with your beloved to the venue of your wedding ceremony with the lovely cherry blossoms surrounding you both, adding magic to your special moment. A lot of couples love to be wed in Kyoto, especially in springtime, and many are holding the ceremonies in Heian Jingu.
The shrine was built in honor of Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei. It is one of the most popular sightseeing places in the old capital of Japan. A 24-meter high torii or entrance gate welcomes you to the shrine where traditional buildings make you feel like you’re going back to the Heian Period of Japan.
3. Kamigamo Jinja, Kyoto. If you fancy a wedding ceremony at a venue that is also a world heritage, the upper Kamo shrine may be the best wedding venue for you. The shrine is famous for its sand cones made since ancient times. It also hosts famous festivals in Kyoto like the Aoi Matsuri. The Kamigamo Jinja also offers a wedding ceremony service and packages to foreign couples. Kyoto is indeed a popular destination not only among Japanese but among other nationalities, as well.
4. Okazaki Jinja, Kyoto. The shrine is not only a famous place among locals to pray for fertility, but it is also the best venue to celebrate your wedding. This historical shrine will give you a good feel of Kyoto’s traditional and modern cultures.
Most of these shrines perform the Shinzen-Shiki or Shintoism style weddings, practices of which are based on ancient Japanese customs. The rituals include the san-san-kudo or the exchange of sake and offering of the Sakaki and the vow of the groom and bride in front of the shrine altar.
Although the Shinto wedding is most common in Japan, there is also the Butsuzen or the Buddhism wedding ceremonies that are commonly held in temples. It resembles Christian marriages in some ways like the bride can choose to wear the western-style wedding dress instead of a kimono and the couples can practice the exchanging of rings, as well. The wedding ceremony also involves the chanting of the Heart Sutra, exchange of vows between couples, san-san-kudo, the recitation of a special pledge signed by both the groom and the bride, and the proclamation of the marriage.
If you don’t want to have your wedding at shrine grounds, here are some of the best wedding venues you may consider if you’re going to hold your ceremony in temples.
5. Shunkoin Temple, Kyoto. It is one of the temples of Myoshin-Ji, the largest Zen temple in Kyoto, that was built in 1599. The wedding service provided by the temple is also available in English. Also, it welcomes the union of foreign couples regardless of faith. It is one of the best options for foreigners who like to have a traditional-inspired wedding.
6. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo. If you want to hold your wedding in one of the most visited Buddhist temples in Tokyo, this temple in Asakusa could be your best choice of a wedding venue. The temple has been there since 645, making it the oldest in Tokyo. You have to consider the date of your wedding, especially that no matter the season, this temple usually never run out of local and foreign visitors.
The Best Church Wedding Venues for a Christian-inspired Ceremony
Even if most Japanese are practicing Shintoism or Buddhism, many couples prefer the European-inspired wedding ceremony practiced in most Christian weddings. Many young couples nowadays veer away from tradition and prefer venues that are more flexible with contemporary wedding themes.
Here are some of the best wedding venues in churches and resorts that you might want to see for yourself.
7. Kyoto Northern Church. Imagine walking down the aisle towards the altar of a chapel surrounded by an entirely lush green garden. The Kyoto Northern Church’s astounding facade will make you feel like you’re holding a wedding in a magical place akin to Middle Earth of J.R.R Tolkien. The glass windows of the church also allow the natural light to add a mystical feel to the wedding ceremonies inside. Your guests will surely love the refreshing and Instagrammable feel of the venue.
8. Chapel on the Water, Hokkaido. In Hoshino Resort in Tomamu, the Chapel on the Water is one of the most sought-after wedding destinations. The church’s glass windows from floor to ceiling allow guests to enjoy the view of the lake and nature surrounding the chapel. In the adjacent lake, the reflection of the chapel’s cross can also be seen in the day time. Imagine exchanging “I dos” in such a splendid place!
9. Ice Chapel, Hokkaido. In Hoshino Resort, there is also a dome-shaped chapel in its Ice Village that attracts couples who are fascinated with a Frozen-inspired wedding. The chapel is made up of snow and ice. If the cold doesn’t bother you anyway, your I dos and your guests’ heartwarming presence will surely warm the fascinating venue.
10. Nodim Resort, Hokkaido. It’s a dream wedding destination for couples who love nature and who want to exchange vows in a mystic place surrounded by a vast forest. It’s only a 15-minute drive from the New Chitose Airport, and it is located next to the Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
You can have your ceremony at the solemn and rustic Chapel of Stones that has a well lit and awe-inspiring interior or at the historic chapel in the forest blessed by one of the greatest musicians in the 20th century, Leonardo Bernstein. The churches and cottages in Nodim Resort offer a tranquil and quaint wedding experience. I would love to have my wedding here someday!
11. Funatsuru Kyoto Kamogawa Resort. It is another wedding venue of choice for couples who love to be close to nature. The resort is located by the banks of Kamogawa River in Kyoto. The chapel located in the resort’s highest floor has a picturesque view of the surrounding landscape, including the view of the famous Kiyomizudera, adding to the natural beauty and solemnity of the wedding celebration.
12. Nara Hotel. It is not only a place with a rich history that spans over 100 years, but it’s also the best venue for different themed weddings. Nara Hotel is located near the famous Nara Park, making the surrounding a scenic one, as well.
Aside from churches, shrines, temples, and resorts, some non-conformist couples prefer unconventional venues or places where they can have the freedom to have either traditional or western-inspired weddings.
13. Kyoto Okakuen. Kyoto never runs out of scenic places for your wedding celebration, and if you want to skip temples and shrines, and yet hold a traditional wedding in a more intimate location, Kyoto Okakuen is one of your best and gorgeous choices. The venue has a Western-style garden and a Japanese garden that will add natural beauty to your dreamy wedding no matter the season. A complimentary rickshaw ride for the groom and bride is also offered to allow the couple to have their Instagrammable wedding ensemble photos taken.
14. Snow Crystal Museum. If you want a snowflakes-inspired wedding, the Snow Crystal Museum in Asahikawa is the best wedding venue for you. You don’t have to wait for the winter season to say I do in such a surreal and magnificent place.
15. Kitayama Geihinkan, Kyoto. This European-style mansion located in the Kitayama area in Kyoto is one of the most popular wedding venues among couples who want an intimate and homely kind of ceremony. It has a lovely chapel, a garden by the pool, and banquet hall that you can decorate according to your wedding’s theme.
How to Choose Your Best Wedding Venues
The finest selections we have here of the one-of-a-kind wedding venues in Japan are options you can check out for yourself should they match your preference. However, choosing a site for a wedding is not limited to the aesthetic of the place itself. There are other equally important things to keep in mind to ease the process of finding the best and the suitable wedding venue for you in Japan. The following guide questions may help you.
How many guests are you inviting? Know the number of guests you are looking to ask or at least a rough estimate of the guests who will most likely RSVP yes to your invitation before you look into your venue options. Avoid choosing a venue that is too huge or too small for your guest list.
You also need to consider the venue that is convenient for you and your guests. If you are inviting guests from out-of-town or overseas, look for a venue that is proximate to their hotels or places of stay. Comfort is also one of the leading factors when choosing a wedding venue.
How much is your budget? Keep in mind your overall budget for the wedding and make sure that it is appropriately allocated. Remember that your cost for the wedding venue includes the rent of the space, decors, and flowers, as well as, in-house catering if there is. Knowing your budget will help you narrow down or expand your suitable options.
What are the inclusions in the wedding venue package? You have to consider the additions of your wedding venue package and see if it fits your needs. A basic package usually includes the tables, chairs and banquet set-up. It will help you consider the costs of the items not included in the package that you may need to rent out or buy out.
What is your wedding theme? Is it tropical, rustic, modern, whimsical, bohemian or romantic? Whatever your idea is, make sure that your venue is aligning to it. Choosing the right site that will fit the vision you have in mind will make your wedding a more memorable one. Also, it matters most if your choices of venue, space, and theme are something that represents you and your partner.
Keep in mind, too, that Japan is a four-season country and that influences the cost of the wedding venues. A lot of couples usually love to hold their weddings in the spring and autumn season because the natural magical feel of the seasons adds to the romantic feel of weddings. Make sure to book your dates ahead as these are also the seasons when these famous wedding venues in Japan are highly in-demand on the market.