Happy divorce!

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.

"When we smashed the ring together, 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," said Mr. Fujii.

His wife of eight years also expressed her relief.

"The moment I saw the smashed ring, I said to myself, "Yes! That feels so good,"" Mrs. Fujii said.

Terai, who is believed to be Japan's first "divorce ceremony planner," came up with the idea of divorce ceremonies to help couples celebrate their decision to separate after one of his friends was going through a bitter divorce.

Divorce is on the rise in Japan where it was once taboo with about 251,000 divorces taking place in 2008, partly blamed on the poor economy taking its toll on romance.

Next month Terai heads off on his first business venture abroad to Korea to officially divorce a couple in Seoul.

"I started this ceremony in April last year thinking that there should be a positive way to end a marriage and move on by making a vow to restart their lives in front of loved ones," Terai said.

Would you have a divorce ceremony to celebrate the ending of your marriage? Tell us in the box below.

Read more on: love  |  divorce  |  relationships

NEXT ON WOMEN24X
Share this page (What are these?):

Read Women24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
We reserve the right to maintain the quality of the discourse on the comments board as much as we can.
By posting comments you agree to our Terms & Conditions.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.