This March, a lesbian couple will depart on a trip around the world to take wedding photos in 26 countries to promote marriage equality in their native Japan.
Mayu Otaki (22) suggested the plan to her fiancée Misato Kawasaki (21), according to an article published by the Asahi Shimbun on Jan. 3. Both are juniors at Utsunomiya University’s Faculty of International Studies, and they will take time off for this seven-month-long trip across Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Australasia.
26 Times Wedding
During their “26 Times Wedding” trip (26回結婚式), Otaki and Kawasaki will post wedding photos on Instagram in order to raise awareness of same-sex marriage. (Note: They are not actually getting married in each country, as was reported by several other news sources.)
In each country, they will also meet with locals to discuss LGBT rights to help spread their message of love and equality. When they return to Japan, the couple say they plan to hold a discussion about their experience and a big wedding party — because while same-sex marriage isn’t legally recognized in Japan, celebrating it certainly is!
The engaged couple has started a crowdfunding page to help fund their trip with rewards for contributors including postcards from their trip destinations, photos, and tickets to their wedding party which will take place north of Tokyo in Utsunomiya, Japan, when they return home. Currently, they are about halfway to their ¥1 million goal.
Their story has been picked up by several Japanese and international media outlets who reported erroneously that the couple would be getting married in 26 countries. However, their plan is to take wedding photos in each country and spread their message of love and equality that way.
In a message on the project’s official Instagram on January 6, Otaki wrote:
View this post on Instagram
【今回は日本語下です】 Hello. I’m Mayu wearing a dress in the picture. For those who knew our round-trip project recently, I want to say thank you for giving us kindly messages. I have one thing that I want everyone to know. Most of the article says “Japanese lesbian couples are holding weddings in 26 countries where same-sex marriage is leagal. ” Actually, we are not going to hold weddings but we are taking wedding photos in 26 countries and regions. So, please don’t send us a message like “You can use our limousine for free.” lol The main purpose of this project is to reveal that there is an issue which should be solved in Japan. However, we don’t want to do a demo, criticism because it’s not entertaining and fun. We want to change Japanese society with humor, in a fun way. Also, I think it is the best way to solve a social issue because in Japan a demo hasn’t been widely spread yet. What is underlying this fact is a phobia towards protest, objection or complaint. Through taking wedding photos, traveling the world, I believe we can make a huge impact on this world. It has been started! *** WHO WE ARE? We are a Japanese same-sex couple. “26 Times Wedding” is the name of our project. WHAT DO YOU DO? Going on a round-trip to take #weddingphotos within countries where same-sex marriage is legal. #26timeswedding #weddingphoto #travel #samesexpartner こんにちは！ドレスのマユです。 実はわたしたちの記事が海外でバズっています！ イギリス、アメリカ、韓国、アルゼンチン、ウルグアイ、スペイン、等々さまざまなメディアで記事が配信されているそうです。 しかし、ウェディングフォトを撮影しに26ヶ国を巡るのであって 結婚して、結婚式を挙げるために26ヶ国を巡るんじゃないんです。 海外のメディアは「結婚する」と記事に書いていて、正しい情報と違うんですよね（泣） フランスに住んでいる人からは、結婚式まで送迎するリムジンを無料で貸してあげるから！ とのDMが届きました(笑) バズっているのは嬉しいですが 事実と違う情報を流されるのはあまり嬉しくない… スーツ: @aoyama__official ドレス：@watabewedding 私たちは #同性婚 が認められた国で #ウェディングフォト を撮る #世界一周 の #旅 、その名も #26回結婚式 を2019年3月からスタートします。 #LGBT#lgbtrights#lgbtyouth#weddingphotography #samesexcouple#lgbt #lgbt #lgbtlove#loveislove
“For those who knew our round-trip project recently, I want to say thank you for giving us kindly messages. I have one thing that I want everyone to know. Most of the article says ‘Japanese lesbian couples are holding weddings in 26 countries where same-sex marriage is leagal.'[sic]”
“[…] Actually, we are not going to hold weddings but we are taking wedding photos in 26 countries and regions. So, please don’t send us a message like ‘You can use our limousine for free.’ lol”
They’ve already begun with a wedding photo shoot in their native Japan, using the images to explain the project on @loveislove.japan.
According to the current interpretation of national Japanese law, same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan. A few local governments including Shibuya-ku, Setagaya-ku, and Sapporo offer partnership certifications to same-sex couples, but these do not afford gay couples legal rights or obligations like heterosexual marriage does.
Otaki and Kawasaki are not alone in their efforts to change the current political landscape regarding same-sex marriage. On Feb. 14, 13 same-sex couples will issue a lawsuit against the Japanese government to grant homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. This lawsuit and the “26 Times Wedding” project hope to bring about change in both people’s attitudes and political policy towards gay marriage.
The petition for same-sex marriage in Japan is available here. To see more about the “26 Weddings” project or to learn how to contribute, check out their website.