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 queer-friendly 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.