Japanese Marriage Tradition


Some Japanese still have arranged marriages. A meeting arranged with a view to marriage is called omiai. Most young people these days seem to prefer to find a partner by themselves, but many still feel secure when their parents or a go-between or a match-making company presents a suitable person

The go-between could be a professional matchmaker, a friend, relatives or the parents themselves. They find out everything about the prospective marriage partners to make sure that they are basically compatible. They bring photos to show to both families. If both families and the young people agree, the go-between arranges a meeting, perhaps at a restaurant or a coffee shop.

If the first meeting is successful, and both sides agree to meet again, a second meeting may be arranged. After that, the young people may make further arrangements as they please. If by any chance one side does not want a second meeting, the go-between is told and he will inform the other side. This avoids undue embarrassment. They can also break up after several meetings take place. Arranged marriages seem to work well. It is probable that they are successful because they have parental support and that the social, economic and educational background of the couples is well matched. In olden times, matchmakers arranged marriages, and that was it. The young people getting married had no say in the matter.



If the couple decides to get married after many meetings, they exchange gifts and decide on a suitable date. The fourth of the month is definitely out. 四 ‘shi’ means ‘four’ but 死 ‘shi’ means ‘death’. Thus four is an unlucky number. Hospitals do not have a fourth floor or a room number four.

Many people get married Spring and Autumn because the weather is good at these times. The wedding may be held in a hotel function room or a special function centre with a shine, and a Shinto priest to carry out the ceremony. Some young couples like to get married at a church, in full western style dress.

The bride wears an elaborate tradition kimono with designs of cranes. She has a large wig (few girls would have sufficient hair of their own) arranged in the traditional style. Her face is painted white and she is made up to look ver much like a doll. She wears a ceremonial white veil and in her hair, she wears smaller pine tree boughs carved from a tortoise shell. The pine tree, tortoise and crane live for a long time. The symbolism is obvious. These days the bride may simply wear a large tsunokakushi (the bride’s hood) that covers the entire head except for the face. There is no wig or elaborate make-up. The groom may wear a traditional kimono and hakama (long pleated pants), but some wear a formal western suit.

After the formal ceremony, the bride changes out of the ceremonial dress and into a lighter kimono for the reception. This may be held at home (in a large country house), at a reception centre, or a hotel. There is eating, drinking, speeches and formal toasts. After that, the bride again changes, this time into a white western dress, and mingles with the guests in a less formal way.

The guests bring presents for the bride and groom. These presents are usually money. As the guests leave, they are each given a present by the host. After that, the bride again changes and it is time for the newlyweds to go off on their honeymoon.

Reserving accommodation

When making a reservation for accommodation, there is some information you need to provide to the staff so they can find the most appropriate room available for you. The details may include:

  • Date
  • Duration of stay
  • Number of people
  • Bed required
  • Smoking or Non-Smoking and
  • Preferences for views.


Refer to the section on Months and Dates here.

  • 九月二十一日から九月二十五日までよやくしたいんですが…

Duration of stay

To refer to the length of stay, you would often talk about the nights you will be sleeping in the accommodation. (1 night and 2 days)

Use the counter 〜泊(はく・ぱく).

  1. 一泊(いっぱく)
  2. 二泊(にはく)
  3. 三泊(さんぱく)
  4. 四泊(よんはく)
  5. 五泊(ごはく)
  6. 六泊(ろっぱく)
  7. 七泊(ななはく)
  8. 八泊(はっぱく)
  9. 九泊(くはく)
  10. 十泊(じゅっぱく)

When Japanese people talk about the length of a trip, they would say:

  • 一泊二日(いっぱくふつか)
  • 三泊四日(さんぱくよっか)
  • 九月十四日から三ぱくよやくおねがいします。

Number of People

Refer to person-counter revision section.

The staff may ask, 何めい(名)さまですか。which is the politer way of asking 何人ですか。

You may answer using both めい(名)or 人.

  • 2名です。
  • 大人二人と子ども一人です。


Types of Rooms

To refer to the size of bed, you may use the English terms:

  • シングル
  • ダブル
  • キング etc.


To ask for a smoking or a non-smoking room, use the following phrases

  • きつえんへや (smoking room)
  • きんえんへや (non-smoking room)



〜つき can be used after many words to mean ‘including’ or ‘attached’.

  • 食じつき (with meal)
  • バスとトイレつき (with bath and toilet)


Preferences for View

見えます, as we have learnt previously, is the potential form of 見ます which means ‘to be visible’ ‘can be seen’ or ‘to come into sight’.

Therefore, you may use this phrase to ask for an ocean view room.

  • うみが見えるへや
  • ふじ山が見えるへや


Asking for Vacancy/Availability

The phrase 「あいていますか」can be used to ask for availability.
Consider the following sentence.


The speaker is wanting to reserve a double room with an ocean view for 3 nights from 7th September.

You can use 「あいています」interchangeably with 「あります」.


The staff will often respond in a polite form:



Listening Practice

Reading Practice

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Read the above dialogue between the hotel staff and Yamada.
What do you notice about the difference in language between the two speakers?
Why are they different?

Extra: Checking-In

Topic 5 Unit 2: Accommodation, Sightseeing and Weather


At the end of this unit, you will:

  • enhance your understanding of the Japanese seasons and weather,
  • enhance your understanding of tourist attractions in Japan,
  • enhance your understanding of various accommodation options in Japan,
  • be able to book accommodation and ask about the facilities,
  • be able to ask and talk about tourist attractions,
  • be able to justify your behaviour and
  • be able to ask and talk about the weather and season.


  1. Expand!
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. Reserving accommodation