Wedding Anniversaries in Japan

  • 2 min read

Wedding Anniversaries in Japan

Japanese weddings are unique in many ways. From the elaborate traditional clothes to the sharing of sake, marriage in Japan is a very distinct tradition from Western marriage. However, one place where Western influence can be seen to shape Japanese tradition is in how wedding anniversaries are celebrated between couples in Japan.

Wedding anniversary celebrations in Japan clearly mirror those in the West. Couples exchange gifts, starting with humble, worldly items for the first anniversaries. These gifts become more and more extravagant as the years pass, reflecting how the strength and value of the couple’s bond increases over time.


Wedding Anniversaries in Japan

The origins of Japanese anniversary celebrations

It is no coincidence that Japan’s embrace of this Western tradition is said to have originated with Emperor Meiji, the ruler credited with opening up the country to influences from the outside world.

In 1894, on the 25th anniversary of his wedding, Emperor Meiji held a Silver Wedding Anniversary celebration in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. This extravagant event marks the beginning of the tradition of anniversary gift exchange in Japan.


Wedding Anniversaries in Japan

The materials that mark each year

As in the West, anniversaries are celebrated each year until the 15th year, after which they are marked every 5 years. While most years mirror the Western tradition exactly, there are some anniversaries, such as the 4th and 10th, in which gifts made from different materials are typically given in Japan.

Here is a list of the materials that mark each anniversary:

  • 1st Anniversary: Paper
  • 2nd Anniversary: Cotton
  • 3rd Anniversary: Leather
  • 4th Anniversary: Flower
  • 5th Anniversary: Wood
  • 6th Anniversary: Iron
  • 7th Anniversary: Copper
  • 8th Anniversary: Bronze, Rubber, Electric Appliances
  • 9th Anniversary: Pottery
  • 10th Anniversary: Tin
  • 11th Anniversary: Steel
  • 12th Anniversary: Silk
  • 13th Anniversary: Lace
  • 14th Anniversary: Ivory
  • 15th Anniversary: Crystal
  • 20th Anniversary: Porcelain
  • 25th Anniversary: Silver
  • 30th Anniversary: Pearl
  • 35th Anniversary: Coral
  • 40th Anniversary: Ruby
  • 45th Anniversary: Sapphire
  • 50th Anniversary: Gold
  • 55th Anniversary: Emerald
  • 60th Anniversary: Diamond
  • 75th Anniversary: Platinum


About the author: 

Diarmuid O'Connor

Diarmuid O'Connor

Diarmuid is a writer and musician from Ireland, based in Tokyo. When not working on music in studios around the city, Diarmuid can be found in the bouldering gym, at the cinema, or enjoying a cold one in the local izakaya.

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