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Japanese couples saying 'I don't'

[ 2011-07-06 12:13]     字号 [] [] []  
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The smartly dressed Japanese husband and wife stand side-by-side, surrounded by close friends, in front of a clergyman-like figure. He asks them to smash their wedding rings with a hammer.

Hiroki Terai is a self-styled "divorce planner" who conducts solemn ceremonies, during which he invites couples to show their disaffection for one another before they - in most cases - walk away smiling.

"I don't think the concept of divorce is a negative thing," said Terai. "Instead of spending a lifetime bickering, it is much better to wrap up the relationship and restart separately."

The nation's divorce rate has steadily climbed since the 1960s, from an average of 70,000 couples terminating their marriage each year to nearly four times that amount with some 253,000 couples separating in 2009.

Terai said that with less pressure over marital status and family relations in Japanese society, more people are looking for the chance to reset their lives.

"Even since childhood, I was always curious why people don't hold divorce ceremonies, even though they have wedding ceremonies," said Terai, who remains a bachelor at 31. "Amicable divorce is something I admire. If I divorce, I want to have a divorce ceremony."

Last week, Terai held a divorce ceremony for his 79th couple, to help them celebrate the beginning of a happier life apart.

Terai arranged for the unhappy couple to ride separate rickshaws to the ceremony site, a humble but colorfully decorated garage. Several of their friends were invited as guests and followed them.

The divorce planner performed the master of ceremonies role and led the service, referring to the couple as "ex-groom" and "ex-bride."

(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Japanese couples saying 'I don't'

About the broadcaster:

Japanese couples saying 'I don't'

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in