lifestyle

Historic Kyoto temple first in Japan to offer gay weddings

26 Comments
By Jessica Kozuka

Gay marriage is still not legal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for LGBT couples dreaming of tying the knot in Nippon. Joining big venues like Tokyo Disneyland, an ancient Zen temple in the picturesque city of Kyoto is offering gay weddings in traditional Japanese style.

Established in 1590, Shunkoin Temple follows Zen Buddhism and is an important site for a 20th-century school of thought that blends Zen and Western philosophy. They also take a strong stand on human rights, with their website proudly declaring, “Shunkoin Temple is against any forms of ‘Human Rights Violations’ in the world. No religion teaches how to hate others. Religion teaches how to love and respect others.”

Not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, priest Takafumi Kawakami says of their wedding services, “We welcome every couple regardless of their faith or sexual orientation.”

In fact, the temple officially began providing gay weddings in 2011, but given the conservative nature of Japan, the service hasn’t been widely publicized or recognized here, but the temple is working hard to attract overseas couples both through their English website and through a new partnership with hotel Granvia Kyoto and tour operator Out Travel Asia to offer a 10-day wedding package tour.

By the way, if you happen to be in Kyoto, Shunkoin offers Zen meditation classes in English and has temple-style accommodations, so even if you aren’t looking for a venue for your gay wedding, you can throw a little love to this awesome LGBT ally and have a great cultural experience at the same time.

Sources: News on Japan, Dot 429

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26 Comments
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Meaningless though.

-16 ( +4 / -20 )

Gay marriage is still not legal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for LGBT couples dreaming of tying the knot in Nippon.

I know of a couple that is comprised of one military (US) male and a Japanese male. They are married in the eyes of the US, but I guess they are not recognized by Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've really got no problem with gay marriage. Why should I care what two people chose to do? Go for it. But what I do object to is that I can be slanged off if I don't express my undivided support for it. Saying I 'm not concerned either way is not good enough for the Rainbow Crowd. Unless I express my total support for these people somehow I am wrong. I don't need your confirmation and you should not need mine.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

onagagamo: Committing to a life long relationship, whether it be through marriage or other ceremonies, is first and foremost about love. There is NOTHING meaningless about it! Just because a marriage is not recognized by the government doesn't make it any less of a loving bond.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

This is very meaningful. There's nothing like having a romantic relationship regardless of sexual preferences.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I think people are born gay so as a society we should accept that. But from natural selection point of view, gays are not normal because they are not wired to give birth to an offspring. It should be viewed as some kind of illness linked to the hormone and the brain which needs no treatment cause its not life threatning as well as there is no law that enforces to give birth. Gay people should have any kind of rights as straight people but as the same time the society should always view them as minorities with brain/hormonal mal function. Just because they have no apparent illness doesnt mean it is normal. Kudos to them for being proud of who they are.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

T_rexmaxytimeDec. 14, 2014 - 06:42PM JST I think people are born gay so as a society we should accept that. But from natural selection point of view, gays are not normal because they are not wired to give birth to an offspring.

I think your understanding of evolution is very weak. Homosexuality is very normal in a wide range of species. The reason it has been a successful adaptive strategy is because humans reproduce quite efficiently enough, and a small percentage of individuals who choose not to reproduce is actually a benefit for any tribe. They contribute to the family's resources without producing more children who need supporting, and in their old age they're protected and cared for by the family as a whole. Their DNA is contained in their brothers' and sisters' children, and so even if they have no children their genes are being passed on.

If anything the problem is not with nature or evolution, but rather with the increasingly selfish nature of society where people are quite happy to accept the inheritance money from elderly childless relatives, but do not want to support them in their final years unless there's a prearranged pay-off.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Not recognized by government, right. But recognized by god? By Japanese religion? By Kyoto temple's affliction? Look where it got those "civilized" European and American countries. Committing to deceiving gods.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

So many people, if you put them in Utopia, would either die of boredom for the lack of problems, or they would do as they do now....see and invent problems where none exist. Homosexuality and gay marriage are prime examples of people doing this. Seems some people just can't get through the day without stroking their petty need to label someone or some group a destructive problem. And its about as pathetic as you can get.

Gay marriage is still not legal in Japan,

Yes, it is. Its perfectly legal. Its just that the beaurocracy won't register the marriage, so you get no government benefits, rights or protections. But if you want to have a gay marriage, you can. You can tell the beaurocrats to go to hell, and its not a bad place for them as it might melt their hearts of ice. Have your gay wedding, and have your gay marriage. Tell your neighbors you are married even if pencil pushers in some government cubicle disagree. And remind everyone where they can push their pencils next. Insist on freedom. I do.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Ultimately... these are feel good weddings.... and no different than a non Christian having a Christian ceremony. But I also believe that gay couples should have their day just like anyone else.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

-2 Good Bad SimondBDEC. 14, 2014 - 03:11PM JST I've really got no problem with gay marriage. Why should I care what two people chose to do? Go for it. But what I do object to is that I can be slanged off if I don't express my undivided support for it. Saying I 'm not concerned either way is not good enough for the Rainbow Crowd. Unless I express my total support for these people somehow I am wrong. I don't need your confirmation and you should not need mine.

"These" people? Lol We are people just like you. If gay marriage were legal everywhere then, no, we wouldn't need your help. But the fact that it's still illegal means that we need all the support we can get. We should be living in a world where we all just mind our own business, but there's still injustice everywhere so we can't just sit around. It must be easy for you to say just to sit there since it sounds like this world is in your favor anyway. Must be nice!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

ThatGuy: Yes, it is. Its perfectly legal. Its just that the beaurocracy won't register the marriage, so you get no government benefits, rights or protections.

So all that's needed is one registrar somewhere anywhere in the nation willing to buck the bureaucracy and sign off on gay marriages?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So all that's needed is one registrar somewhere anywhere in the nation willing to buck the bureaucracy and sign off on gay marriages?

It would not be an instant change, but it could drive the start of change if just one had the heart and the testicular fortitude to do that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They contribute to the family's resources without producing more children who need supporting, and in their old age they're protected and cared for by the family as a whole. Their DNA is contained in their brothers' and sisters' children, and so even if they have no children their genes are being passed on.

@ Frungy: You are a bit off in your comments. If a gay couple doesn't have kids, what makes you think that their brothers/sisters children will take care of them in their old age? What if they are an only child, then according to your hypothosis, either they will have no one to take care of them, or they will just wither away and die off with no support. Also, as we have seen here in JT in cases where children are killing off their elderly parents because they can't bear the burden of supporting them furhter, then why do you think that these nieces/nephews, cousins, etc would want to take care of someone else even though they may be related are not their parents.

Yes their DNA is contained in their relatives children, but not their unique strand of DNA. It may be a case where one sibling is a carrier of a certain gene while the other sibling is not, and this gene could have the potential to protect them from some disease or ailment. If the gay relative does not recreate and possibly have this gene carried on through their bloodline, then future generations could miss out on this gene. Of course the same could be said of a negative trait that certain genes can carry.

I personally don't care what two adults do. What I have an issue with is if I don't agree to it, doesn't mean tht I am anti-gay. It's just not for me and will not willing participate. That doesn't mean I can discriminate against them, but at the same time that doesn't mean I have to fully support their lifestyle. They (the militant activist) need to understand that.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

AlphaapeDec. 15, 2014 - 08:53AM JST @ Frungy: You are a bit off in your comments.

Your inability to understand does not mean that the other person has made a mistake.

If a gay couple doesn't have kids, what makes you think that their brothers/sisters children will take care of them in their old age?

You're focusing on the last couple of hundred years of human society. Evolution doesn't work that fast. For a period about a thousand times longer we have lived in family and clan groups where the elderly (elderly in those times meaning over 40) were taken care of by the group.

What if they are an only child, then according to your hypothosis, either they will have no one to take care of them, or they will just wither away and die off with no support.

Again, in a tribe this would be unlikely.

Also, as we have seen here in JT in cases where children are killing off their elderly parents because they can't bear the burden of supporting them furhter, then why do you think that these nieces/nephews, cousins, etc would want to take care of someone else even though they may be related are not their parents.

In modern society? No, because we have become an incredibly selfish society. For the vast majority of our evolution? Probably.

Yes their DNA is contained in their relatives children, but not their unique strand of DNA. It may be a case where one sibling is a carrier of a certain gene while the other sibling is not, and this gene could have the potential to protect them from some disease or ailment. If the gay relative does not recreate and possibly have this gene carried on through their bloodline, then future generations could miss out on this gene. Of course the same could be said of a negative trait that certain genes can carry.

Evolution works on averages. If, on average over many generations, a trait makes a group more likely to reproduce and survive to reproduce again then it will become more prevalent. If it doesn't then it won't. Unless this disease is a significant selection factor (like sickle cell anemia in malaria areas) then it won't matter. Yes, we might, possibly, perhaps miss out on a rare gene mutation that might, possibly perhaps help the tribe at some point, but on average having an extra pair of hands around that won't produce extra children to burden the tribe is a much surer advantage to the group under a wider range of circumstances.

I personally don't care what two adults do. What I have an issue with is if I don't agree to it, doesn't mean tht I am anti-gay. It's just not for me and will not willing participate. That doesn't mean I can discriminate against them, but at the same time that doesn't mean I have to fully support their lifestyle. They (the militant activist) need to understand that.

Personally I don't care if you do, or do not, actively support homosexuals. Where I get tetchy is when people propose bad science as a means of justifying their prejudice... and I really couldn't tell you if it is the prejudice or the bad science that irritates me more.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I wonder when Japanese law will finally accept gay marriage. There is a whole lot of TV talent that are gay and the main religions don't prohibit it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Homosexuality, if not a lifestyle choice, is most likely an as yet undiscovered DNA defect which affects about 3 percent of a species population similar to how Down Syndrome is a DNA defect of Chromosome 21.

And those talking that it's an Evolutionary trait or Nature's means of population control have no idea what they're talking about. The theory of evolution alone, has so many holes in it that you need more faith to believe in Evolution than you do to believe in God. LOL!

It's all moot anyways, cause in 50 years via genetic manipulation, faulty genes, such as homosexuality, baldness, cancer, etc etc... will be repaired in the embryo stage of development: Eugenics baby!!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Readers, forget about what causes homosexuality. It's not relevant. Please focus your comments on what is in the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Where I get tetchy is when people propose bad science as a means of justifying their prejudice... and I really couldn't tell you if it is the prejudice or the bad science that irritates me more.

@ Frungy: Please cite an example where open homosexuality is accepted in a tribal culture? You say that I have written bad science, I think you are doing the same with bad social science. True there have been cases of homosexuals in history, but when you look at how tribes survive, it's by making sure that there are enough of them to carry on. You keep saying that they (the tribe) will take care of the elderly, but you seem to not mention that in those cases, if persons were deemed to be sickly (i.e. had various diseases like leporasy, etc) they were normally cast out of the tribe to ensure the survival of the group.

No prejudices on my part. If you notice, I didn't say gay couples couldn't adopt or have kids via surrogacy. I simply stated that the gay lifestyle is not for me, just as they will say that a heterosexual lifestyle is not for them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Alphaape - tribes? The Sambia and Etero tribes just to mention two of hundreds. Civilisations? The Greeks and Romans. Not to mention many Indian cultures. The entire idea of homosexuality as wrong is a decidedly Judeo-Christian concept. If anyone is practicing bad social science here then it is you.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Now with the human reproductive system, the completeness is with a male and female. That, hopefully, love and commitment produces the next generation.It is quite natural and true. Can people do what they want? Of course they can, they can get married in Kyoto in a Buddhist temple nut not is a Catholic Church..

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The bottom line is if gays want to marry who cares. The issue that Japan needs to be addressed is will Japan governmental agencies recognized these gay unions and provide the couples the same legal benefits

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In my opinion its not positive

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think my previous post was misunderstood. Homosexuality and gay marriage are not problems. The problem is people who imagine they are problems. Those people are the actual problem. They see and invent problems where there are none.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a money grab! Just like those shrines that offer you up blessings for 5000 yen if you're looking for love.And what's worse, the money shrines get is already tax free.Pure and utter greed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The bottom line is if gays want to marry who cares. The issue that Japan needs to be addressed is will Japan governmental agencies recognized these gay unions and provide the couples the same legal benefits.

This is a pertinent point. To my mind, marriage is about three things: 1) Acceptance of a couple's union in society 2) Acceptance of a couple's union in the eyes of religion/God 3) Confering legal status on the union.

If we strike off 2 for the time being as it is rarely offered, except in the temple quoted above, we come to 1 and 3. I do not think it matters what the Sambia tribe does, but today's society.

Most people are coming to accept '1' now - they will accept a gay couple as a real thing. Perhaps not in Japan, but in most Western nations.

3 is also very important - the agreement that a gay couple can get the same legal or tax benefits. Even if you do not think that the union between 2 people is of the same significance to society as a heterosexual union, many must be sympathetic to two people who have decided to be together for good, having rights as a couple, not just as 2 individuals.

I think this is particularly important in Japan - your family status is very important - people are seen less as individuals but more as part of a family, something we see in the Family Register. Formalising same sex couples can help bring gay people into Japanese socieity more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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