On Thursday December 21, 2006 Juan Jesus Leon was married to Jody Diane White at the city hall in Yachiyo-machi, Ibaraki, Japan. There were no bells, no ceremony, no English speaking witnesses present and no money exchanged. There was however a Japanese-English dictionary, lots of hand gestures, a couple of frustrating swear words in English and Japanese along with a quick trip back to the house to look-up the proper word to get a marriage certificate.
Apparently, in Japan, (unbeknownst to me, Juan and the American embassy website) no paper is given to verify your marriage unless you specifically ask for one. You simply submit your paperwork to city hall and after 5 minutes of making sure that all your kanji is written in proper order... you are legally married. Crazy!!!
So we filed our paperwork and five minutes later the Japanese office workers were clapping bowing and giving words of congratulations.
"So we were married?" I ask in my shaky Japanese.
"Yes, you are all finished. Congratulations" smiles the office worker.
Hello??? Don't we need a paper or something??? Am I crazy?? So after a quick peek into my dictionary I find the word for certificate. The lady behind the counter didn't really know what i was talking about, but I remember that the American Embassy page said that you could get two types of certificates a basic one and a fancy one. Come on!!! If I am getting married in Japan I want a kick ass certificate to say that I got married in Japan, Damn it!!!
So after a quick trip home and a 3 minute surf on the web we went back to city hall (still unsure if we were actually married) and weren't gonna leave until we had a damn certificate. After about 5 minutes of shuffling through file cabinets, the lady behind the desk pulls out a beautiful marriage document and asks if this is what we were after. Apparently nobody in Yachiyo had ever asked for the big fancy document before. They had to actually look in the city manual to see how you were supposed to fill out the certificate correctly. So after 20 minutes and 4 drafts later we felt more secure about being married and my new husband and I walked out of city hall with our marriage certificate and a new life together.
That night there was no flowers, speeches or prime rib dinner. But there was champagne, music, cake and a peacefulness in my heart to know that my tireless search for my soul mate had come to an end and that the only things I ever would need to search for in the future I would do them with my loving husband at my side.