Marriages begin with the promising plink of ritual: aisle-marching, veil-lifting, rice-flinging. But they end with the unceremonious thud of reality: stacks of documents, pained court appearances, crammed moving vans.
In Japan, a nation where ritual is revered and divorce is on the rise, couples have found a way to bring the same pomp, poignance, and purpose to their breakup as they did to their nuptials: divorce ceremonies.
Since last year, entrepreneur Hiroki Terai has officiated more than 20 such ceremonies at his Tokyo “divorce mansion.” He charges $600 to help divorcing couples mark the end of their relationship and take a vow to begin their lives anew. Ex-husband- and ex-wife-to-be ride to the event in separate rickshaws and smash their wedding rings with a gavel as friends cheer. Divorcés say they feel relief — even release — when it’s over.
More typically in the States, folks have separate celebrations when their divorces are finalized: “I’m going to have one this month when the cord cuts,” says a spouse-sloughing friend of mine. “But it’s going to be with girlfriends at a bar. I thought I would burn the wedding license and auction his wedding band — you know, the one he took off when he dated other women.”