Marriage Advice: American to Japanese

Well, I am about to take the big step and ask my girlfriend to marry me. She is Japanese and living here on a work visa, I am an American living near Philadelphia. I’ve never screwed up this particular area of my life and I want to do it right. Now her family is all still in Japan and from what I understand they are open minded but pretty much a traditional Japanese family.

My question is mostly to related to what would help put a traditional Japanese family at ease with their daughters decision to marry me. How do men in Japan normally go about getting the parent’s permission to marry their daughter? I speak very little Japanese and they speak no English. Would a well written letter (translated of course) be considered rude? I do plan on visiting Japan and being introduced to her parents once we are married here…possibly even doing some kind of ceremony while I am there so they are not left out of it. I would appreciate any advice, I’m kind of stuck on this one. Thanks in advance!

I guess it depends on how “traditional” they really are. If they are truly open minded there isn’t anything special that you’ll need do.

I’m in your situation but from the other side. I’m Japanese (male) getting ready to ask my GF’s hand in marriage and she’s Bulgarian. My parents are both very open minded and there is nothing special that needs to be done.

IIRC my dad, when marrying my mom, had to visit her family and bring gifts and such. This may no longer be the norm though (this was 30 years ago). I’d imagine it’s about par with how Americans and Canadians do things.

You might be better off finding out what your Japanese bride to be thinks. Visiting them is probably a must but I don’t think you’re going to have to do much else but let them meet you.

I don’t plan on visiting my family (only my parents are in Canada) in Japan soon after marrying. It’s just too expensive a trip!

And congrats on your engagement (if it’s happened yet!).

I would definitely fly to Japan *before *getting married, so her parents can see what a fine, upstanding (Bongmaster?) lad you are. Stay at their house, get to know them, tell them of your plans, let them ask any questions they might have. Much, much better than flying there after the fact (but be prepared to do that, too). Airfare is low this time of year. It still might seem expensive to you, but I’d think of it as a long-term investment.

Thanks for the answers guys, I appreciate it. I am thinking about taking the trip there before getting married as you suggested, expensive but would probably be worth it. Does anyone think the letter idea is a good one?

I don’t. They might feel you’re treating marriage and them (the parents) too lightly if you just send a letter. Imagine: they go to their mailbox/slot and pick up the day’s assortment of bills, pizza delivery ads and other junk and… oh, what’s this?.. a letter from some stranger who wants to marry our daughter?!

Also, my guess is that one of their concerns about her marrying a foreigner overseas is that it will mean she’s made up her mind to live abroad permanently, which means they won’t get to see much of her in the future, that she might not be around when they need her, etc. If they first “meet” you through an airmail letter, I think it will reinforce that sense of distance.

Hmm, some good points that I hadn’t considered. You’re right, I should go there first and meet them in person. Thanks again!

Just one more thing: my posts above assume that your girlfriend has a good, fairly close relationship with her parents, which in fact might not be the case. As badmana said, ultimately your best source of advice here will be your girlfriend. :slight_smile: