The institution of marriage in Japan has changed radically over the last millennium.
Indigenous practices adapted first to Chinese Confucianism during the medieval era, and then to Western concepts of individualism, gender equality, romantic love, and the nuclear family during the modern era.
Heian society was organized by an elaborate system of rank, and the purpose of marriage was to produce children who would inherit the highest possible rank from the best-placed lineage.
The number of single households exceeded married households for the first time in 2007.When asked what marriage means to them, Japanese university students tend to use words like “respect, acceptance” and “caring, help and being there” while American university students tended to use words like “important, essential” and “unconditional.” On activities associated with love and marriage, 47 percent of U. students said “having dinner together, eating out” compared to 12 percent among Japanese students and 23 percent of U. students said “physical intimacy” compared to 12 percent among Japanese students. Regarding their future plans of marriage, Japanese youth keenly reflect the current social trend toward later marriage.About one half of the young people indicated that they want to marry eventually, but are not concerned about the age at which they might marry.A 2011 survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of couples who married during the five years before the survey found husbands met their wives for the first time at the age of 25.6 on average, up from 25.3 in the previous survey, and wives met their husbands for the first time at age 24.3, up from 23.7.Of the couples whose wives got married at 25 years old or older, more than 50 percent said that they felt they were at the right age for marriage.