Q Why are weddings held at churches or shrines and funerals at temples?

A The wedding ceremony in Japan was traditionally not a religious ceremony. In the old days, they were held at the bridegroom's house based on the decorums of etiquette. It was not until the Meiji period ( 1868-1912) onward that wedding ceremonies came to be held at shrines and churches. It is said that Shinto weddings, which are widely prevalent today, came into vogue after the wedding of Emperor Taisho and became firmly established with the general public.

The shrine is the guardian deity of a particular locality, and it stands within reason for the residents living in the region to hold wedding ceremonies at the shrine. Churches also have roots in a particular locality and many Christians hold wedding ceremonies at the church. Since wedding ceremonies in Japan are not traditionally bound by religion, where to hold the ceremony has become but a mere formality based on a matter of preference whether held at a church or elsewhere. Funerals differ somewhat from weddings.

The various Buddhist sects have had a long history before becoming a part of Japanese society. The temple serves as a family temple for many households even today and the reason why funerals are conducted according to Buddhist rites. In the present age of the nuclear family, many households have their own grave plots and do not intend to be buried in their ancestral grave, but even then, funerals are still conducted according to the family's traditional religious sect.