Tokyo's newest trend: "Crying events"

The first such crying event in Tokyo was organized in 2013 by Hiroki Terai, a former salesman who had previously launched a successful business conducting cathartic (though unofficial) divorce ceremonies. After watching his clients shed tears and then leave on better terms, he got the idea to start hosting rui-katsu events. “I realized that people cannot cry unless they make a conscious effort,” he told the newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.

The response to early sessions was overwhelmingly positive. “Rui-katsu isn’t like crying alone in my room. I don’t feel depressed after crying here,” a 23-year-old woman explained to The Asahi Shimbun. Today, sessions are held all across Tokyo, and similar events have sprung up in Nagoya and Osaka; people throughout the country have also taken to sharing online lists of songs and video clips sure to get the tears flowing. As for Terai, he has gone on to write a series of books about crying, most recently Ikemeso Danshi, which features photos of attractive men sobbing.

Rui-katsu seems to be popular not because Japanese people are big criers, but precisely because they aren’t. Data from the International Study on Adult Crying suggest that, of the 37 nationalities polled, the Japanese are among the least likely to cry. (Americans, by contrast, are among the most likely.) “Hiding one’s anger and sadness is considered a virtue in Japanese culture,” a Japanese psychiatrist told the newspaper Chunichi Shimbun in 2013.