Your dream Japan elopement – the ultimate planning guide

UPDATED FOR 2024-2025

How to plan your Japan elopement - the ultimate guide

AT A GLANCE

Best time to elope in Japan

For the Sakura (cherry blossoms): March and April

For the best weather: March to May and September to November

Can foreigners get legally married?

Yes, it’s a very lengthy process but it is feasible. We recommend a symbolic ceremony instead, unless you’re from the US.

Cool piece of info

Every spring, usually in March or April, the country bursts into a stunning display of pink and white cherry blossoms.

If there is one very mysterious and beautiful country on earth, it’s Japan. When we think about it, we always think of the bustling city of Tokyo, the temples and the blooming cherry trees. But there is SO MUCH more to see in Japan! Every season holds a special gift to discover, and each and every part of this beautiful country is worth discovering. This is why planning to elope in Japan might be the best idea you could have. And whether you’re dreaming of a city elopement in Tokyo or an adventure elopement in Japan, this guide will cover every question you might have – and some more.

Let’s dive in…

How to elope in Japan – a quick checklist

  1. Choose the best time of the year to elope
  2. Choose your elopement location
  3. Choose the duration of your stay (I recommend anywhere between 7 to 15 days to fully discover the country)
  4. Book your flights
  5. Book your accommodation
  6. Book your activities
  7. Get your wedding license
  8. Need help? Check out my Japan elopement packages
  9. Last details before you leave
How to get legally married in Japan

How to Legally Elope in Japan

To be honest, if you are not a Japan resident, you should try to avoid going the legal route for your elopement as it will be a very lengthily and hard process. All my couples who choose to elope in Japan choose to have a legal ceremony at home (at their local city hall) and then go to Japan to exchange more intimate and meaningful vows in a splendid environment.

However, if you are from the US, you have the option of asking your county clerk to add “Japan” as a possible and legal place to have your ceremony, and as a registered minister, I’ll be able to officiate your wedding in Japan.

For couples from the US:

In certain states, you can ask your county clerk the authorization to sign your wedding license abroad. If they agree, as a registered minister, my team and I will be able to legally marry you without the hassle of a legal wedding ceremony in Japan.

Can foreigners elope in Japan?

Yes! You’ll need to have several appointments at your Embassy to get the right documents and have a translator to handle all your paperwork.

Top 9 Japan elopement locations

Yakushima wedding - couple kissing in the Shiratani Unsui Gorge

For Ghibli fans – Yakushima island

This is, by far, my favorite place to elope in Japan, especially for an adventure elopement. The Yakushima island is still wild and untouched, and hardly visited by tourists (especially foreign ones). You will find there a natural paradise, featuring deep forests, waterfalls, lakes, mountains… everything you might think of is present on the island. You can choose to exchange your vows after a short hike through cedar trees, or by a crystal-clear waterfall in the middle of a rainforest.

Best location for the summer – Shikoku island

Another hidden gem that is worth discovering. It was overlooked for centuries until bridges were built between the mainland and Honshu, thus opening Shikoku to tourists. You will find there castles, temples and shrines, citrus plants and rapids perfect for rafting, and the most famous pilgrimage of Japan, the 88 sacred temples of Shikoku. Don’t forget to visit the Iya Valley as well! And if you’re up early, you can also walk on the Kazuabashi suspension bridge, which overlooks a beautiful river.

Shikoku island, japan elopement
Miyazaki prefecture - elopement in Japan

For deep forests and temples – Miyazaki prefecture

If you’re looking for a mythological place to exchange your vows, you can choose the Miyazaki prefecture for your elopement in Japan. With one of the warmest climates on the main islands, it was a very popular destination for honeymoons. Takachiho and Kirishima are both important sites of Japanese mythology, and are amazing to enjoy nature.

For iconic views – Mount Fuji

Yes, this is Japan’s most famous mountain, but it can be enjoyed from so many different places that it’s definitely worth mentioning. You can choose to exchange your vows while overlooking the mountain (and the Chureito Pagoda might be the best place to do so, especially in April when the cherry trees are blossoming!) or you can also hike the mountain and exchange your vows while overlooking Japan! However, be aware that Mount Fuji is dubbed “most climbed peak in the world” so it can get pretty busy!

Mount Fuji elopement in Japan
Shirakawa-go for an elopement in Japan

For a taste of old times – Shirakawa-go

This small village has a very unique look, and would be an amazing backdrop for your vows exchange. It features lots of traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, with rustic wooden frames and thatched roofs. It’s best to visit during winter, where the view is even more stunning!

For a medley of nature and history – Kumano Nachi Taishi

One of the three beautiful Kumano shrines, this is a beautiful spot to elope in Japan. The culture here is very present, and the beautiful waterfall in the background of the temple adds a stunning touch of nature. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Japan, so even if you don’t choose it to exchange your vows, you can still visit it after!

Elopement in Japan - Kumano Nachi Taishi
Elopement in Japan on the Japanese Alps Route - Tateyama Kurobe

For a taste of the Alps – secret mountain range

This route is definitely worth the trip, and it goes through some of the most beautiful, wild, untouched and peaceful mountains in Japan. Better enjoyed by train, you can go at any season and enjoy a different experience every time. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the “wall of snow” while you’re there!

For a taste of tropical beaches – Ishigaki and Miyako-Jima, Okinawa prefecture

If you’re looking for a little place of sandy beach and tropical paradise, Ishigaki and Miyako-Jima are the best places to elope in Japan. However be aware that these are very touristic spots in Japan, that tends to be booked up solid months in advance.

Elopement on Okinawa, Japan
Motonosumi Inari Shrine for an elopement in Japan

For an infinity of Torii gates – Motonosumi Inari Shrine

Maybe you’ve seen pictures of the world’s most famous shrine in Kyoto (the Fushimi Inari Taisha), and if you liked it, then I have great news for you, because its brother is located near a beautiful cliff in the Yamaguchi prefecture! It’s less crowded and more natural than the one in Kyoto, while still featuring more than 100 vermilion gates!

Did you know?

There’s a world of wonder beyond Tokyo and the temples when it comes to Japan. When you decide to plan your elopement with me, I’ll offer a tailored list of 4 to 5 remarkable off-the-beaten-path locations that align seamlessly with your preferences. Let me guide you to Japan’s hidden gems, far from the typical tourist destinations.

When to elope in Japan

When to plan your Japan elopement

For incredible landscapes – winter

The average temperature in winter varies greatly between the north and the south of the archipelago. While it can be very cold in the Hokkaido area, it is generally between 0 ° C and 15 ° C in the Tokyo and Kyoto areas while it is even milder in Shikoku and Kyushu. Winter in Japan is also rather dry and sunny: it is, for example, the best time to admire Mount Fuji, which the rest of the year is almost always covered in clouds. It often happens that it snows – without this paralyzing the country – to the delight of lovers of sliding sports who find themselves in the Japanese Alps or in Hokkaido which has the reputation of having the most beautiful ski slopes. from Japan.

Great for cherry blossoms – spring

In Japan, spring is a special season. Beginning between the end of March and the beginning of April, it manifests as the blooming of cherry blossoms (sakura) in the Okinawa archipelago. During this period, nature animates the country with many bright colors, and the population welcomes and honors it with various festivities. For this, spring is the period that welcomes the most tourists in Japan.

The rainy season – summer

Summer in Japan is the rainy season. The months of June and July are particularly rainy and the heat begins to be felt. Temperatures vary between 25 ° C and 30 ° C. Rain, humidity and heat make the atmosphere difficult to breathe, especially in large cities. In the north of the country, on the island of Hokkaido, the climate is more bearable there with less rain and heat. Summer is also the season for typhoons which can cause significant damage.

Incredible foliage – fall

The change in leaf color in fall in Japan varies with temperature, altitude and latitude. What does this mean to you ? Mountainous regions and islands to the north will experience fall colors earlier than other regions. You should also take note of the fall color forecast as well as the weather forecast, as these will keep you up to date with temperature changes and fall foliage dates. When temperatures turn cold early, Japanese fall colors appear earlier – up to several weeks earlier – and vice versa. In general, the fall foliage season in Japan begins in mid-September on Hokkaido Island, the northernmost island. In other parts of Japan, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, the best times to view them are usually from mid-October to early December. Peak sightings in each area typically last anywhere from two weeks to over a month.

Did you know?

As an elopement guide and photographer in Japan, I offer a reassuring service to all my couples by providing complimentary transportation during their elopement adventure. This allows them to fully immerse themselves in the joy of their elopement experience, while I expertly manage all the logistics, including the unique challenge of driving on the other side of the road!

Unique Things to Do When You Elope in Japan

These off-the-beaten-path experiences offer a unique blend of culture, nature, and spirituality that can beautifully complement your elopement in Japan. They provide unforgettable moments that are sure to enhance your overall Japan elopement adventure.

Activities to do on your Japan elopement - tea ceremony

Private Tea Ceremony in a Hidden Garden

Embrace the serene and traditional side of Japan by arranging a private tea ceremony in a hidden garden. While traditional tea ceremonies are not uncommon, experiencing one in a secluded and lesser-known garden can be a truly intimate and special elopement memory.Your elopement in Japan can start with the calming ritual of a tea ceremony, where you’ll learn about the art of tea preparation and enjoy matcha green tea. The peaceful surroundings and personalized attention create a unique atmosphere for you and your partner. It’s a moment of tranquility and cultural connection that will add depth to your Japan elopement experience.

Overnight Stay at a Buddhist Temple

For a profound and spiritual experience, consider spending a night at a Buddhist temple in the heart of Japan’s lush countryside. This immersive opportunity allows you to participate in the daily life of the monks, including meditation sessions and vegetarian meals.

Imagine sharing your vows in the temple’s serene garden or in a quiet corner of the temple grounds, surrounded by the tranquility of nature and the echoes of ancient traditions. It’s a deeply spiritual and unique way to infuse your elopement in Japan with a sense of mindfulness and cultural significance.

Activities to do on your elopement in Japan - stay at a Buddhist temple
Activities to do on your elopement in Japan - go to a dark sky reserve

Stargazing in a Dark Sky Reserve

Japan is home to some remarkable Dark Sky Reserves, such as the Nishiawa International Dark Sky Park. Consider venturing to one of these designated areas for a night of stargazing, an experience that will add a celestial touch to your elopement in Japan.

In these remote locations, far from the city lights, you and your partner can marvel at the dazzling beauty of the night sky. Whether you choose to exchange your vows under a blanket of stars or simply enjoy a romantic evening of stargazing, it’s an opportunity to connect with the universe and create truly magical memories.

Elopement in Japan - Himeiji castle

What To Wear When Eloping In Japan

The Dress

For an elopement in Japan, consider attire that blends elegance with cultural reverence. Traditional options like a kimono or furisode offer a timeless and respectful choice, allowing you to embrace Japanese customs and aesthetics. If opting for contemporary attire, choose a dress that complements the setting, whether it’s a serene garden, historic temple, or urban landscape. Light and comfortable fabrics are essential, especially during warmer months, ensuring you can move freely and enjoy every moment of your special day amidst the captivating beauty of Japan.

The Shoes

For exploring temples and forests during your elopement in Japan, it’s essential to choose comfortable and practical footwear that can withstand varied terrain. Opt for closed-toe shoes with sturdy soles to provide support and protection while walking on uneven paths and navigating temple grounds. Consider wearing lightweight hiking boots or walking shoes with good traction to ensure stability on forest trails and gravel paths. Avoid heels or open-toe sandals, as they may not be suitable for long walks or navigating rocky terrain. Additionally, opt for shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you may need to remove them when entering certain temples or traditional tatami-mat rooms. By prioritizing comfort and functionality, you can explore Japan’s cultural and natural wonders with ease and enjoy every moment of your elopement adventure.

The Suit

For an elopement in Japan, a suit is a sophisticated choice for grooms seeking a blend of modern style and cultural appreciation. Opt for a well-tailored suit in a lightweight fabric to ensure comfort throughout the day, especially if you’ll be exploring outdoor locations or walking long distances. Consider incorporating subtle Japanese influences into your attire, such as a tasteful pocket square with traditional patterns or a tie featuring motifs inspired by Japanese art. Whether you’re exchanging vows in a tranquil garden or amidst the vibrant streets of Tokyo, a stylish suit will complement the enchanting backdrop of Japan while reflecting your personal style and reverence for the occasion.

Typical food and dishes from Japan

You might want to integrate into your elopement day

Traditional food to try on your elopement in Japan - Sushi

The Japanese staple: Sushi

Sushi is perhaps one of the most famous Japanese dishes worldwide. It consists of vinegared rice combined with a variety of ingredients such as fresh seafood, vegetables, and occasionally tropical fruits. Sushi can be found in various forms, including nigiri (hand-pressed sushi), sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish), and maki rolls (seaweed-wrapped rolls filled with rice and ingredients).

Trying sushi in Japan is a must, as you’ll discover the incredible freshness and flavors of the ingredients. Visit a sushi restaurant where the chef prepares the sushi right in front of you for an authentic experience.

For a warm option: Ramen

Ramen is a beloved Japanese noodle dish that comes in various regional styles. It typically consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a flavorful broth, often flavored with ingredients like soy sauce, miso, or pork bone (tonkotsu). Toppings can include sliced pork, seaweed, boiled eggs, and green onions.Sampling a bowl of ramen in Japan is a delightful culinary experience. Each region offers its own unique twist on this comfort food, making it a delicious adventure to explore.

Traditional food to try on your elopement in Japan - Ramen
Traditional food to try on your elopement in Japan - Tempura

A delicious street food: Tempura

Tempura is a popular Japanese dish consisting of battered and deep-fried seafood, vegetables, or even seasonal treats like tempura sakura (cherry blossoms). The batter is light and crispy, and the dish is often served with a dipping sauce or salt.Enjoying tempura in Japan allows you to taste the delicate flavors and expert frying techniques that make this dish so special. You can find tempura restaurants that offer a variety of ingredients, ensuring there’s something for every palate.

Japan elopement packages and pricing

All my packages include:

  • From 1-2 locations to a full 7 days honeymoon and elopement adventure photography coverage
  • Custom planning by a travel agent and elopement planner with:
    • A list of 3 to 4 location recommendations based on your vision (waterfall? deep forest? temple? mountains? You name it!)
    • Complimentary transportation for your day(s)
    • Concierge service for vendors, accommodation, restaurants, you name it! And the option of having it all included in your package
    • Help with anything related to accessibility, permits and rules
    • A printed “how to elope” guide with everything you need to know
    • A custom timeline for your day(s)
    • The possibility to get legally married by your photographer (we’re all US ministers!)
  • Online gallery you can share with the world
  • My travels feels to anywhere in Japan are already included!
  • Starting at $10.750

Handpicked hotels for your journey in Japan

Discover some of the exceptional hotels we select for our itineraries. While locations vary across the country, each hotel ensures comfort, luxury, and a unique local charm, providing you with an unforgettable stay.

Last details before you leave for Japan

Ready to leave and explore the land of the rising sun? Here are some of my last bits of knowledge.

Prepare your packing list in advance

When packing for Japan, it’s essential to prioritize light, breathable layers that can be easily layered for versatility in any season. Opt for comfortable pants and shoes suitable for walking and exploring, along with weather-appropriate outerwear such as a waterproof jacket and warm coat for colder months. Don’t forget sun protection like sunscreen and sunglasses, as well as modest attire for visiting cultural sites. Bring essential travel items including toiletries, medications, and travel documents, along with a mix of cash and payment cards for convenience. With these essentials packed, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy your trip to Japan, no matter the season.

Tips for renting a car

When renting a car in Japan, there are several important tips to ensure a smooth experience. Firstly, instead of an International Driving Permit (IDP), you’ll need an official translated version of your driver’s license from your home country, as this is required for driving in Japan. It’s essential to arrange this translation in advance to avoid any complications during the rental process. Additionally, book your rental car in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, and opt for a rental agency with English-speaking staff for easier communication. Remember that Japan drives on the left side of the road, so take time to familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and signage before setting off. Be prepared for toll roads, which are common in Japan, and consider purchasing an ETC card for convenient electronic toll payment. Finally, ensure you have a GPS or navigation app to help navigate Japan’s roads, particularly if you plan to explore rural or less touristy areas. By following these tips and having the necessary documents in order, you’ll be ready for a memorable road trip adventure in Japan.

How to pay in Japan

In Japan, cash is still widely used for everyday transactions, so it’s important to have yen on hand, especially in smaller shops, restaurants, and local markets. However, major credit and debit cards are also widely accepted, especially in larger cities and tourist areas. It’s a good idea to carry a mix of cash and cards for convenience. Additionally, Japan has a convenient and widespread electronic payment system called Suica and Pasmo, which are prepaid cards that can be used for public transportation, shopping, and dining. These cards can be easily topped up at train stations and convenience stores, making them a convenient option for travelers. Lastly, mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, particularly in urban areas, so it’s worth checking if your device is compatible with these services before your trip. Overall, having a variety of payment methods ensures you’ll be well-equipped to handle transactions throughout your time in Japan.

The language in Japan

While English is understood in tourist areas and major cities, it’s not as commonly spoken in Japan. English proficiency varies, and you may encounter language barriers, especially in rural areas. Learning basic Japanese phrases can help improve communication, and carrying a phrasebook or using translation apps is recommended. Overall, having some knowledge of Japanese language and culture can enhance your travel experience and interactions with locals.

Formalities – do we need a visa to visit Japan?

Here is a map of the countries needing a visa to enter Japan. If you’re from the Schengen area, the US or Australia, you just need a passport to visit and get married!

Visa requirements to visit Japan

A small conclusion: Why Elope in Japan?

Nature

Once again, nature might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Japan, except maybe the beautiful and famous Mount Fuji. However, nature is very present in the Japanese culture (think about all the beautiful art that comes from Japan and which features forests, mountains, birds…) and if you’re an adventure lover, Japan might be just what you’re looking for your elopement. Once you go out the big cities, you can find peaceful and delightful places to exchange your vows.

Culture

The Japanese culture is one of the most ancient culture in the world, and features a lot of amazing things, like the tea ceremony, the temples, the onsens (natural hot springs), and all the beautiful, ancient villages you can find while driving around. If you’re looking to discover something new, Japan is the best destination for your adventure elopement.

Cuisine

If you’re ever been to a Japanese restaurant, then you will quickly find out that it actually has nothing to do with what you will actually eat in Japan. The food there is delicious and authentic, and eloping in Japan might be the best reason to indulge on some Kaiseki food, which uses ingredients hardly found in other parts of the world.

Latest Japan elopements I planned and photographed

Discover here the latest elopements in Japan I had the chance of planning and photographing.

The process -elopement packages in Japan

Let’s chat!

Are you eager to start planning your elopement in Japan? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!

Welcome to the Adventure of a Lifetime

Amber, elopement photographer

Hey there, I’m Amber! I’m your elopement photographer and planner – your one-stop-shop for absolutely everything you need for a magical, incredible elopement day. 

I offer all-inclusive elopement packages for couples who want to relax and let me handle absolutely everything, as well as options for couples who like a little bit of DIY! I’ll find the perfect place for you to exchange vows, recommend vendors, help you figure out travel and lodging, make a timeline, and more – personalizing each part of your elopement day to perfectly suit the two of you. And of course, I’ll be there to take the photos and document this once in a lifetime adventure.
You aren’t like every other couple, and your wedding day shouldn’t be either! I’ll help you craft a day that’s true to you, authentic, and real, allowing you to immerse yourselves in the experience as you say your “I dos.”

How to plan a Japanese elopement
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