Big, fancy cakes have always been an essential part of any proper wedding reception. The tradition, of course, goes back to Ancient Rome, where the bride and groom were each given a knife to cut a celebratory pastry, and if they didn't try to violently stab each other after realizing what a huge mistake they had made, it would supposedly guarantee their happy union.
The custom sadly died after we started limiting couples to just one knife.
But if you happen to be in Yokohama, where I live, you can always choose to eschew cake in favor of a huge meat dumpling stuffed with dozens of regular-sized meat dumplings, because Japan is really adamant about stopping vegetarians from marrying and breeding.
Actually, let me rephrase that: You will absolutely find cake and other pastries at any Japanese wedding, but for the last couple of years, the Jumbo Shuumai (a Japanese spin on a traditional Chinese dumpling) has been slowly replacing cake as the main event of many receptions in Japan's second-largest city.
Regular-sized shuumai have always been popular in Yokohama due to the popularity of Chinese culture in the city. But then, one day, a shuumai producer called Kiyoken lost the dictionary page with the definition of the word "excess," causing them to come up with the Jumbo Shuumai and market it as the new must-have wedding menu item. And the people went completely crazy for it. Kiyoken is now reportedly producing 100 of these bad boys a year despite there being nothing inherently "wedding-like" about a giant dumpling made entirely from spam and stuffed with 30-50 of its own babies.
I mean, yeah, sure, it could represent the bride and groom having loads of children, but wishing four dozen of them on the couple seems a tad extreme, unless the country is experiencing some devastating clown shortage that I'm not aware of.
As many of us had to eventually learn, there rarely is such a thing as "happily ever after" in real life. People fall in love, get married, and then some of them end up divorced and miserable, so why even bother with the whole matrimony thing in the first place? Well, according to Japan, you do it because even if things don't work out, you'll at least get to do a super fun "divorce ceremony."
Also, there'll be frogs because frogs make everything better!
First, it's important to note that a divorce ceremony is nothing like a divorce party. Celebrating your newfound freedom with copious amounts of alcohol and stranger genitalia (strangenitalia) is a proud, ancient tradition found in every corner of the globe. In contrast, a divorce ceremony (rikonshiki) is a formal event that requires the attendance of both parties, who must also have all of their clothes on, making it pretty much the exact opposite of a divorce party.
Your typical rikonshiki opens with the facilitator addressing the crowd and explaining the couple's decision to get divorced, though hopefully leaving out the most embarrassing bits, like the time the wife called her husband by his grandfather's name during sex. This is followed by what can only be described as "divorce vows" from the couple.
"I promise to call you drunk off my ass every year on our anniversary."
"And I promise to tell all my friends that your penis is hilariously tiny."
Next, someone gives a toast, the couple breaks a symbolic wedding ring with a cartoonish frog hammer, and everyone gets to eat. The ceremony in and of itself isn't legally binding (see: frog hammer), but it has been touted as a great way for two people to separate on good terms, and all for just $600. That's the starting price, anyway. If you want your split-up to be the envy of all of your married friends, then you will have to shell out about $2,000 for the premium package to celebrate never again having to handle your husband's package.
The origins of the ceremony can be traced back to 1963, but its current, festive incarnation is mainly the brainchild of one person: famous divorce planner Hiroki Terai. Yes, Japan has divorce planners, sort of like in that Amy Schumer sketch. Terai has reportedly organized over 70 divorce ceremonies already -- they're growing in popularity every year -- and also helped codify the proceedings a bit, like deciding on bush daisies as the traditional divorce flowers, or dressing the bride-to-not-be in a matching yellow dress.
Which I think symbolizes all the money that the couple is pissing away on this.
But Terai is not done yet. He already offers "reconfirmation" ceremonies, where divorced couples can pay to confirm their continued undying hate for each other, followed by some cake (or meat dumplings). And Terai is even considering holding his ceremonies at Disneyland in the future, if everything goes right, which I know will be great news for at least two Disney princes.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.