It’s a chilly Saturday night in February 2013 and the people are crammed into the small conference room at a mental-health center in northern Tokyo. They have all gathered there for an evening of communal rui-katsu – “tear seeking.”
The event organizer, Hidefumi Yoshida says to the 20 men and women who range from college students to middle-aged office workers, “Whether you’ve had a tough time at work, your business is bankrupt, you lost your spouse or you have crippling health issues or your partner left you for another person, crying does a much-needed reset on your emotional well-being”.
Yoshida then switches on the video player and a series of videos are flashed on a screen. One is a Thai TV commercial titled, “The silence of love”. Watching it, the people in the room begin to sob quietly.
At the end of the screening, there is a group discussion and Yoshida can feel as if a veil has lifted. The members are visibly cheered up.
Rui-katsu is growing in popularity in Japan, not because the Japanese are big criers, but precisely because they aren’t. The International Study on Adult Crying polled 37 nationalities and found that the Japanese in fact are among the least likely to cry. (Americans, by contrast, are among the most likely.) The Japanese are a stoic people and consider hiding one’s sorrow a virtue.
In the five years since the first rui-katsu session, crying clubs have popped up all over Japan and even spread overseas into Europe. Websites have sprung up that post books, movies, poems and music that enhance the desire to cry.
Since most members really don’t have any problems in their lives that would cause a meltdown, most sessions of rui-katsu are not expressions of genuine sorrow, but hey, it makes members feel better afterward and that’s all that matters.
I found an instance of sham sorrow in fiction – Herman Wouk’s City Boy, which is about a lovably plump, very intelligent, Jewish eleven year old boy named Herbie Bookbinder who lives in Bronx. The delightfully funny story is centered around events that happen during his summer camp, in the summer of 1928.
I’ll read you a part where camp is over and Herbie and the rest of the kids are leaving for home. Herbie is grief stricken…….
“….Herbie was enjoying his grief so much that he was disappointed when it started to wane, like the tingle from an ice-cream soda, after only a few minutes. He began using devices to work it up and keep it alive, such as humming, “Bulldog, Bulldog” and tapping dismally to himself, and reviewing every detail of his final hours at camp.
True sorrow is painful. Sham sorrow compares to it like riding down a roller coaster does to falling off a roof. The thrill is there, but not the cost……”
Have you ever enjoyed crying and not wanting to stop? I know I have. I used to make myself watch Schindler’s List whenever I wanted to cry. And I felt so good – virtuous even – after that. (Having sex did that too, but don’t get me going on that now).
I overdid Schindler’s List and I’m now sick of reading or watching anything about the Holocaust and I need some fresh stuff to make me cry. Since this blog has been free enlightenment for you all these years, dear reader, the least you can do to show your gratefulness is to suggest a book or movie I could bawl over. I miss bursting into tears.
Crying – even sham tears – is good. Medical experts say that crying is healthy. It rids the body of harmful toxins and reduces stress and even the risk of cardio-vascular disease.
Crying is great for your mental health too. Displaying your emotions openly – wearing your heart on your sleeve – tells others you are not a phoney shit-faced jerk, but a genuine and vulnerable person. It draws others closer to you. Crying in fact is a sign of inner strength, that tells the world that you don’t care about what others think.
When you cry in front of others, you are showing us all that it’s a perfectly normal and natural emotion. You are setting a trend. Haven’t you felt like crying at a funeral, after watching others cry, even though you had never known the dead dude?
Crying is infectious. Crying could even indicate that you are great at sex, but like I said, I won’t get into that. I shall however say this to all my male readers – try bursting into tears in front of a broad you have the hots for. You’ll be surprised when she gets turned on seeing your vulnerability and draws your head into her ample bosom and rocks you and says, “There, there, my koochie woochie woo, come here you.”
Ooops, I gotta go. My eyes just fell on Sathyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. I can feel a good cry coming up. Toodle-oo!
In case you want to try having a nice big bawl, here’s the link to that Thai TV commercial I spoke about in para-3……..