One in four marriages in Japan now ends in divorce. With this increase in people untying the knot, former salesman Hiroki Terai saw a business opportunity.
A year ago he set up his “divorce mansion” in a small undercover space in Tokyo. Couples pay around 55,000 yen ($606) to hold a ceremony with all the extravagance of a wedding that symbolically ends their relationship in front of all their family and friends.
Despite Japan’s soaring divorce levels, the practice is still taboo. These ceremonies help people to cope with the country’s changing social norms, Terai claims. “There’s no mistaking that divorce is a sad process,” he says. “But I believe that by declaring your new start in life in front for your friends, relatives and family, you draw a clear line. It helps emotionally.”
Common features of a divorce ceremony are the smashing of the old wedding rings with a heavy hammer painted with a green frog’s head (frogs symbolize change is Japanese culture) and a feast with the couple sitting back to back at opposing tables. At the end of the ceremony the pair give each other a polite bow and go their separate ways. “I feel better than before we did this,” says divorcee Taka after his ceremony. “It’s over.” (via CNN)