Japanese couples say "I do" -- in divorce ceremonies

Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:02am EDT
 
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By Laurel Moorhead

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - With divorce on the rise in Japan, some couples are choosing to celebrate the end of an unhappy marriage by saying "I do" for a final time at a divorce ceremony before friends and family.

Divorce ceremonies were pioneered about a year ago by a former salesman, Hiroki Terai, who set up a "divorce mansion" in a small undercover space in Tokyo.

Since then about 25 couples have each paid 55,000 yen ($606) to hold a ceremony with all the pomp and grandeur of a wedding that publicly ends their relationship before they officially file for divorce. Terai said he had received more than 900 inquiries.

The latest couple, who called themselves Mr. and Mrs. Fujii, met near Sensoji Temple in Tokyo's traditional Asakusa area on Sunday and rode in separate rickshaws to the "divorce mansion."

"By putting an end to our marriage, we wanted to give ourselves fresh starts and give our lives a sense of renewal," Mr. Fujii, a 33-year-old businessman, told Reuters Television.

He said he felt responsible for the failure of his marriage as he spent too much time away from home and too much money on his various interests including cars - despite numerous warnings from his wife.

Friends and family of the Fujii couple followed closely behind the rickshaws on foot, arriving at the "divorce mansion" for a ceremony where they smashed their wedding ring with a gavel, a gesture signifying the end of their partnership.

The gavel has a frog's head as frogs symbolize change in Japanese culture.   Continued...

 
<p>A crushed wedding ring is displayed after a couple used a hammer to smash the ring to symbolise the end of their eight-year marriage during a "divorce ceremony" in Tokyo June 20, 2010, a day before the couple file for divorce. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>