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Need a Good Cry? Try ‘Tear-Seeking’

Rui-katsu is a growing trend.

Image via (cc) Flickr user MIKI Yoshihito

Rui-katsu, or “tear-seeking,” is a growing trend in Japan to help people bring their feelings to the surface. Citizens gather in theaters and conference rooms and watch emotional videos, film clips, even YouTube memorials for pet cats, and have a good cry.

“Hiding one’s anger and sadness is considered a virtue in Japanese culture,” psychologist Yuhei Kayukawa told The Japan Times. But now, almost five years since the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, not to mention the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, this need for emotional release is a crucial part of cultural healing.

The first rui-katsu in Tokyo was organized in 2013 by Hiroki Terai, a former salesman. “I realized that people cannot cry unless they make a conscious effort,” he told the newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.

A similar nationwide emotional release was helped along by Godzilla in the ’50s. Reeling from the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, traumatized Japanese could watch cities be destroyed by an oversized monster. “People had been holding this horror within them, and when they saw it onscreen they were able to get it out,” historian Bill Tsutsui explained in the journal Nautilus.

Think about that next time you find yourself bursting into tears watching a McDonald’s commercial. It may seem like a very Japanese thing to will oneself into sobbing, but it is something we media-soaked Westerners do all the time.

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(h/t The Atlantic)

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