Love really takes to the air in Tokyo once a year, when dozens of Japanese shout out their ardour for spouses, partners – and even themselves – at an event that’s also broadcast on national television.
Japanese have traditionally valued modesty and reticence over outspokenness, but Kiyotaka Yamana, a Tokyo resident who started the “Love Message Yelling Event” after his marriage failed, said that didn’t mean they were unromantic.
“The dominant image of Japanese men is of overworked businessmen, but I wanted to tell people around world that Japanese men are actually very romantic,” Yamana says.
The event, which precedes “Love Your Wife Day” on January 31, took place at the Hibiya Park in central Tokyo, co-hosted by a citizen group dedicated to devoted husbands.
Most of the 30 or so participants took to the stage, yelling “I love you” or “Let me be with you.”
Some of declarations reflected the gloomy economic situation: one husband, his voice choked up with tears, thanked his wife for staying with him although he lost his job more than a year ago.
The increased economic clout of women and changing social attitudes toward marriage, which is no longer seen as necessary for either gender, have kept an increasing number of Japanese single.
But for those who have a special someone in their lives, the “Love Message Yelling Event” helped give relationships a boost.
“My heart throbbed with excitement. It really touched me,” said a 38-year-old Ayako Kikuchi, holding the hand of husband Kenichi who had just finished yelling “Ayako, I love you” on the stage.
Other participants said they found the event emotionally liberating.
“I feel refreshed after I yell, so, from now on, I’ll tell my girl directly that I love her … but not this loud,” said a 27-year-old businessman Kenzaburo Cho after telling his fiancĂ©e: “Stay with me for all your life. I love you.”
One kimono-clad woman, who said she was unmarried, confessed to the audience that she loved herself the most and a single man who said he wished to have a partner amused the crowd by crying out: “Anybody. Please … right now.”