Divorce ceremonies pick up in Japan after disaster

Mon Jul 4, 2011 9:36am EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Ceremonies to celebrate divorces have gained momentum in Japan after the massive March earthquake and tsunami, followed by an ongoing nuclear crisis, caused unhappy couples to reassess their lives.

The ceremony to mark a couple's transition to being single again costs 55,000 yen ($690), includes a buffet meal and culminates with the ritual smashing of their wedding rings with a gavel.

Tomoharu Saito, who took part in Tokyo with his wife Miki days before they were set to file for divorce, said crushing the rings felt cathartic.

"I did not think the ring could be crushed that easily, but it did," he said.

"I was shocked but at the same time, I feel it helped me make a clean break."

The ceremony also includes a "divorce dress," and Miki Saito chose a daisy-yellow summer dress. In Japan, daisies are believed to symbolize an "amicable or platonic relationship."

Designer Akiue Go said he created the dress with emphasis on the back for a specific reason.

"I designed this dress so the woman's back looks the most beautiful when she turns around and walks away," he said.

Hiroki Terai, a 31-year-old former salesman, spotted a gap in the market and pioneered the divorce ceremony two years ago. Since then, he's celebrated more than 80 breakups.   Continued...

<p>Tomoharu (L) and Miki Saito wait outside the venue of their "divorce ceremony", as their son plays with a toy, in Tokyo July 3, 2011, a day before they file for divorce. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>