Same-sex marriages are not yet legally recognized in Japan, but that hasn’t stopped some LGBTQ couples from moving forward with their own wedding ceremonies. In light of the current pressure for change, a Buddhist temple in Saitama is officiating more LGBTQ marriages to promote equal rights in Japan.
Legally, same-sex couples can only be registered as a civil partnership in certain areas of Japan, but Saimyouji Temple welcomes anyone who wishes to get married in a traditional Buddhist ceremony. The fee for the ceremony is 200,000 per couple and includes a professional photoshoot for the happy couple to commemorate their special day.
After the first bell rings and the couple and guests have entered the main hall, the ceremony begins with the officiating monk praying to the statue of Buddha Amida Nyorai for the couple’s new life. Then the couple receive holy water and Buddhist pearls from the monk before exchanging their vows in front of the statue. The ceremony ends with a final salute to the statue and an offering of incense.
Saimyouji Temple has stood in Saitama for over 750 years. The temple attributes the enduring support it has received over the generations to the flexibility of Buddhism and its ease of accepting differences. Because religion has always revolved around promoting equality, the temple also identifies itself strongly as a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ people.
When not performing ceremonies, the temple’s chief monk, Myokan Senda, also works as an activist, promoting equality for LGBTQ minorities. In addition to hosting frequent LGBTQ awareness seminars, the temple also participated in Saitama’s recent Rainbow Pride event on March 6, where it distributed wagashi candies in the colors of the rainbow flag.
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