Multiple studies have shown that Japanese are becoming more skeptical about marriage, with one recent finding showing that one-third of university students, out of over 400 men and women interviewed, had no dreams of ever tying the knot.
Do you want to get married?
32.8% said no and 67.2% said yes. However, even among those participants who said they were looking forward to saying the words “I do” in the future, almost half answered that they plan on skipping the ceremony.
Do you want to have a wedding ceremony?
53.6% said yes and 46.4% said no.
When combined with an additional study that asked 100 men and women over 40 about their attitudes toward funerals, it’s clear that not only young adults, but Japanese society as a whole, is starting to place more and more emphasis on being frugal over keeping up with tradition.
Do you want your family to hold a funeral for you when you pass away?
12.4% said yes, 33.6% said cremation only but no funeral, 39.8% said whatever their family decides is best, and 14.2% said they haven't given it much thought.
According to both studies, money was by far the biggest factor behind most respondents’ answers. With lifetime employment opportunities fading, salaries shrinking, and consumption tax rumored to be increasing, this shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise.
Despite the relatively small sample sizes, comments from netizens, either for or against marriage and funeral ceremonies, were fairly on par with each survey’s findings, and monetary concerns remained a key discussion point.
“Why drop a lot of money on a wedding ceremony when you could travel instead?” “Wedding ceremonies cost so much. Having one only makes newlywed life harder.” “There’s so much we need to spend money on already that spending money just for the sake of tradition is a waste.” “You don’t need either, and besides, grave markers are also really expensive.” “Funeral → No one would come, Wedding → No one to invite, so neither would be worth it” “Either way you’re just going to turn to dust.” “I hate the atmosphere of weddings. It’s like, ‘Look at me! I’m so happy~’”
Still, some countered by commenting:
“Couples who can’t be bothered with a ceremony usually divorce quickly. It’s important to think about those around you.” “I would love to get married one day.” “Throwing a wedding isn’t something you do for yourself, but so your parents can see you and be proud.” “I want to have a funeral, and hold a proper one for my parents someday, too. As far as wedding ceremonies go, I’d just have one without any frills.” “Not having a proper wedding ceremony seems a little sad.” “Weddings make good memories and funerals are for paying your respects and saying goodbye. Maybe a lot of people disagree, but I think they’re both important.”
If this divide between cost versus culture continues to grow, it’s hard to say exactly what kind of influence it will have on Japanese social practices down the line. While we wouldn’t want to see traditional wedding or funeral practices come, to an end, it would be great if more options were available for people of all backgrounds and budgets.
Sources: ValuePress!, Ameba News via Hamsoku
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