No matter the country, no matter the culture, words evolve as time slips slowly on. Trends change, people change, and the way people tie the knot changes to reflect the environment. A recent study Marriage Trend Survey (Zekushi Magazine, October 2014) found that among other things a new trend was emerging in the world of weddings, calling for a new word: 共有婚 (Kyōyūkon). “What exactly is this recent Kyōyūkon trend?” asks Kyoto University graduate and journalist Yūmi Tokiwa at Tōyō Keizai news (online).
Understandable trend given the times, the kanji used sum up its meaning well: 共 (kyō) Share/Together, 有 (yū) to Be/Have, 婚 (kon) Marriage. Below is my translation the article which appeared in Tōyō Keizai on January 18th, 2015. It can be read in its original Japanese here.
Weddings, What exactly is this recent Kyōyūkon trend?
A decreasing numbers of guests and lower costs.
The wedding, the most important day of your life. Contrary to what one may believe, the movement of the economy does not hold much sway over the cost of a wedding. “Even during the financial crisis of 2008, the cost of weddings did not go down. It’s because Japanese people consider a wedding to be a happy occasion.” says Mr. Iwao Tanaka, Director of Bridal Research, a division of Recruit Marketing Partners.
The national average (mathematical) cost of wedding ceremonies, including receptions and the like, held in Japan in 2014 was 3,337,000 Yen (28,370 USD as of 1/17/2015). A decrease of 67,000 Yen (570 USD) from last year. (Zekushi Marriage Trend Survey, 2014).
Average Invitees: 72
Director Tanaka also indicated that “Until 2012, rising costs of food and drink per person led to overall costs of the wedding being pushed up. But, from 2013 onward, the growing trend to have fewer invitees can be tied directly to the gradual decrease in the overall costs of the ceremony and the reception. Of those invited, the number of friends, colleagues, bosses, and former teachers has remained the same while the number of family members has decreased.
Culturally, one characteristic of wedding ceremonies is the fact that regional customs contribute to large differences in costs. When analyzed by region, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma Prefecture at 3,679,000 Yen (31,280 USD), Kyūshū at 3,630,000 Yen (30,860 USD), and Fukushima Prefecture at (30,640 USD) stand out as the most expensive.
In these regions, where the average number of invitees ranks the highest in the nation at 72.2 persons, the tradition of inviting a large number of people to weddings has led to the overall costs being pushed ever higher.
At the other extreme lies Hokkaido where weddings cost an average of 1,923,000 Yen (16,350 USD). This is due to the fact that weddings are not Shūgisei (lit. Celebration Style) but rather Kaihisei (lit. Membership Fee Style) where invitees are expected to pay an amount indicated on their invitation, usually 15,000 Yen (130 USD). Though not the wedding entirely, these contributions cover a large portion of the overall cost.
Interestingly, trends about wedding ceremonies have changed somewhat regularly, in 10-year periods, following changes in society. In the latter half of the 1980s, during Japan’s asset price bubble, Hadekon, extravagant weddings, were the trend, followed in stark contrast by the Jimikon, simple weddings, of the post-bubble era of the mid-1990s onward. The trend changed once again at the onset of the 2000s with “At Home” weddings, where guests would be called to gather at a guest house of sorts, gaining popularity.
Friends lending a hand with Preparation
Now in the 2010s, being spurred on by the industry, Tsunagarikon or “At Heart” Weddings have been revceiving support. In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, societal and familiar ties have been rekindled and the underlying meaning of the wedding reception is undergoing a change. From the old view of it being a place where the bride and groom officially announce their engagement, the reception is not viewed as a place where the bride and groom give thanks to family and invitees. This has led to the bride and groom placing an increased amount of time and care in the preparation of the meal in an effort to express their feelings of gratitude and be as hospitable as possible.
Starting in 2012, and the latest trend to take hold of the “At Heart” wedding style is the Kyōyūkon, or Shared Wedding. It is a style of celebration where the invitees and the couple become one, so to speak, and enjoy the wedding reception together, sharing in the joy with everyone. It is not “bride and groom” and “everyone else”, but rather it is meant to to be a place “where everyone is connected by radiation” (Director Tanaka).
For a Shared Wedding, friends lend a hand preparing the for the reception. Parents and friends deepen their ties with one another, sharing in the emotions, taking part in games that involve everyone in attendance, and sharing surprise videos made especially for the occasion. Slowly but surely, the wedding style where friends attend merely to “enjoy” a wedding is slipping into the past.
Original Article (Japanese)
I look forward to hearing constructive criticism for my translation as well as your comments about the wedding trends in Japan. NOTE: The “where everyone is connected by radiation” is a direct quote. Personally, I think it sounds horrible, but as a personal rule I try to keep quotes as close to a literal translation as possible.