I have heard of people celebrating after a divorce becomes final, but this is the first I've heard of a couple celebrating together their decision to split up.
For the past year or so, an entrepreneur in Tokyo has been arranging divorce ceremonies at which couples that are fed up with each other can celebrate the impending conclusion of their hellish partnerships, along with friends and family who may also be pleased that a long nightmare is ending. The ceremonies apparently are almost as elaborate as the weddings themselves. On Sunday, for example, a Mr. and Mrs. Fujii met near a temple and rode (in separate rickshaws) to Hiroki Terai's "divorce mansion." Friends and family followed the rickshaws on foot. A ceremony was then held at the mansion in which the formerly happy couple smashed their wedding rings with a frog-headed gavel. According to the report, frogs symbolize change in Japanese culture.
Smashing something symbolizes change in almost any culture.
Both parties to the failed relationship expressed relief and even joy that it was finally over. "When we smashed the ring together," said Mr. Fujii, "I felt like 'oh, this is the end of it, really" and my heart and soul felt renewed. Now I feel I can have a new life and start all over again." Mrs. Fujii seemed positively elated, telling reporters, "The moment I saw the smashed ring, I said to myself, 'Yes! That feels so good!" It is encouraging, I guess, to see that even couples who have been married for eight years can still enjoy doing things together.
Terai is said to be Japan's first "divorce ceremony planner," charging couples about $600 for the proceedings, although legal fees will be extra because the ceremonies have no legal effect. U.S. jurisdictions that already have no-fault divorce laws (I'm talking to everyone but you, New York) might want to consider simplifying things even further by allowing couples to sever their bonds just by smashing their rings with a frog-headed gavel. I would be willing to preside, but am not pulling any rickshaws.
Terai says that so far he has helped 25 couples move on with their lives, and has received more than 900 inquiries. He will expand his business next month, when he visits Seoul to set his first Korean couple free.