The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

In Japan, There's a Toilet for Divorce

Let's hope it doesn't get clogged.

By Kristin Wong Jun 14, 2012 3:30PM

Photo: Vstock LLC/Getty ImagesIn the Gunma Prefecture in central Japan, women have been praying to the porcelain god, but it has nothing to do with recovering from a night of binge drinking. The Mantokuji Temple is known as the "divorce temple," and within it are a couple of toilets that many modern Japanese women hope will answer their prayers.

Historically, the ancient Buddhist temple served as a refuge for women wanting to leave bad marriages. Tadashi Takagi, the Temple museum director, explained:

"In the past the Mantokuji was a divorce temple. There are only two in Japan and in the whole world. Originally it provided the possibility to break off with bad relationships. Women used to come here to have legal protection and divorce from their husbands."

Today, the Temple serves a similar purpose.  Many Japanese believe their gods are present in everything, including toilets, which they call the Kawaya Kami deity. Many women still visit Mantokuji, write down their divorce wishes on paper and flush it down the toilet, symbolic of their split. The ritual is called enkiri—severing ties. Takagi explained:

"The idea today is that people get rid of the bad things in their life and become happy."

But Mantokuji isn't limited to divorcees-to-be. Visitors can perform enkiri with anything. According to the Telegraph, one woman flushed her obesity down the toilet.

And it's not just about cutting ties; visitors can also partake in enmusubi—strengthening ties—although they'll be flushing an entirely different toilet.  There's a black lavatory in the temple for those who wish to strengthen the ties in their marriage.

Japan's divorce rate has quadrupled over the past 50 years, so Mantokuji has become a Mecca for many unhappy wives making the pilgrimage. With modern Japanese divorce laws, it may not serve the exact purpose it did hundreds of years ago, but it's still a symbolic sanctuary.

Takagi admits there's been some confusion at Mantokuji.

"There [have been] people who take it for a real lavatory and actually use it," he said.  "But since we have put a sign indicating that the toilets are for praying, almost nobody makes that mistake anymore."

Key word: Almost.

Photo: Vstock LLC/Getty Images

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Sep 7, 2012 6:36AM
can we represent someone to do enkiri at this temple?
Jun 18, 2012 1:26AM
Writing this was worth it for all of your toilet jokes alone.
Jun 17, 2012 11:49AM

 I sit on the throne every morning hoping that the hideous demon inside me shall be released  into the bowl of eternity and there is enough toilet paper for the job at hand!

Jun 17, 2012 3:58AM
Is there REALLY a J in the Greek alphabet? Call it what it is, Zeus, and stop getting mad at Mexicans with the same name because that may make it seem less than what it has been hyped up to be. Only Ironman can raise through the atmosphere and he even froze trying.
Jun 16, 2012 8:59AM
Jun 16, 2012 8:51AM
Japan has endured bad economic and drastic environmental tragedies.  The Japanese people are strong and proud people.   "Never give Up, Never give Up" as Sir Winston Churchill famous words.   The Japanese people stood tall despit the conquest and enventual defeat of World War 2 and current tragedies.   I was stationed in Zama, Japan (Army).   The places I have visited were interesting beautiful.   This was in year 1969.   I'm sure things have changed.   I would like to bring my family there (my better half is Japanese)............to grasp the beauty again.    What toilet and what temple?  If so but who cares!
Jun 16, 2012 8:44AM
John Mayo - LOOK IT UP
The adverb anymore  meaning “any longer” or “nowadays” is most commonly spelled as one word. It is used in negativeconstructions and in some types of questions: Sally doesn't workhere anymore. Do you play tennis anymore?
 [en-ee-mawr, -mohr] 
Anymore IS a word.
Jun 16, 2012 8:38AM

Why would anyone think a Toilet is a God?

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