Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A mirage made in heaven?


Narita was for many years Japan's principle international airport, gateway to the world and embarkation point for countless young couples to their dream honeymoon as they start their new life together. And it's also the focal point, upon return, of the infamous "Narita Divorce" (Narita Rikon). Said young couple find themselves tasting reality for the first time together. And decide the proposition is not that pretty after all. Often it's the guy who is away from his mother for the first time and is just utterly useless. Can't wash his socks or fold his shirts without her help. Landing back at Narita blushing bride turns to her erstwhile husband and gently whispers "sayonara baby!". The "Narita Divorce".

Japan also has a word for the opposite end of the spectrum when a couple have been married most of their lives, the kids having grown, they're now empty nesters. Or at least she is; he's still in the office slaving over a hot desk or off drinking with his work colleagues only returning home to sleep and change. And then one day he reaches retirement and she decides she really doesn't like having him around all day long. This is officially known as a "Maturity Divorce" (jukunen rikon); not as catchy as "Narita Divorce" but preferable to the alternative proposed by the Taro Aso, the Deputy Prime Minister who suggested that old people should "just hurry up and die". 

And then there's the divorce that simply didn't happen. Unlike a wedding in many countries, a Japanese wedding, both the ceremony and reception, are just that, a celebration of a marriage officiated by someone licensed as much as was Joey's internet ordainment. The legal marriage itself occurs when the required papers are signed and witnessed, which more often than not occurs separately, and possibly several months, after the big day itself. And if they've already gone their separate ways, sometimes not at all. And at this point, the guests having attended the ceremony, celebrated the party, drunk the sake and sung the karaoke, mutual amnesia sets it. And no one talks about it. Ever. And if you were wondering, the bride's wearing of the elegant white headwear is, according to folklore, to enhance her beauty and hide the horns.






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