Crying over emotional stories helps relieve stress

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More and more people are engaging in activities to induce crying as a way to refresh themselves by watching emotional videos and films, as well as through other means. The practice, known as ruikatsu, has spread throughout generations. It can be done either at a group event or at home alone and can soothe minds tired from work or daily life and release stress.

One night in December, a free video-viewing event was held for that purpose at a public facility in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, with about 60 men and women, mostly in their 60s and 70s, taking part.

“People of this generation are said to be stoic, but we want them to be honest with themselves and cry in front of others to feel refreshed,” said a spokesperson of Edogawakita Hojinkai, an employers’ association in Tokyo that organized the event.

In the darkened room, animations were shown on a screen one after another. These included an animation drawn by comedian Tekken — who became popular with his creation of flipbook manga — featuring emotional scenes such as words of appreciation written to a foster mother who had passed away, and the life of a married couple who shared all their sorrows together. Many participants were seen wiping their tears with a handkerchief as they seemed to have identified their own lives and family memories with the animation.

“[The animation] reminded me of my parents. I was too busy with my work to do my duty for them as a daughter. I regretted it, but I felt refreshed by crying here,” said a 64-year-old woman who works in the service industry.

In November last year, the Nakifes festival was held at a Tokyo gym, offering an opportunity for working people in their 30s and 40s to have a good cry. About 350 people bought a ticket for the festival where movies, music and recitals were performed by singers and celebrities.

Events of this kind were launched in 2013 by event producer Hiroki Terai, 36. He came up with the idea after seeing many men looking refreshed after crying at their divorce ceremonies, which he planned for more than 400 couples.

“People today tend to be vulnerable to stress due to their busy lives and the growth of the information society,” Terai said, explaining the popularity of such activities. By purposefully creating opportunities to cry with emotion or in sympathy, parasympathetic nerves are said to be activated, resulting in a decrease in stress.

Some choose to cry in a group, while others cry alone. A 27-year-old female company employee from Saitama Prefecture engages in the practice through her hobby: watching movies. Whenever she feels tired or has had a tough time at work, she puts on earphones and uses a tablet device to watch international movies in bed.

“I feel refreshed after having a good cry and can think in a more positive way,” she said.

She watched the blockbuster animated film “Kimi no Na wa” (“your name.”) that opened last summer. “I was intrigued at first by the beautiful footage and cried as I sympathized with the romantic storyline,” she said.

There are also many books encouraging active crying. Of them is “Ikemeso Danshi” (Good-looking men in tears), a picture book published by libre Inc. in 2015 that features young men weeping in the workplace, bathroom and other places.

“Many readers feel comforted and weep in sympathy with good-looking men crying in daily situations,” said a female libre employee in charge.

What should we do to experience ruikatsu? “The most important thing is to create a good environment,” Terai said.

At home, you should dim the lights, use essential oils or light incense sticks and turn on some relaxing music, he suggested. Then, find dramas, movies, music or anything that brings up emotions for you. If you cannot cry alone, you can ask your friends to help create the mood — by organizing a private event to watch a video, read a picture book or recite poetry, or a session to introduce tear-jerking anecdotes that could bring the audience to tears.

But you have to be careful not to become emotionally unstable as a result of trying to cry too frequently. Terai recommends people “cry only when they feel like doing so, or sob only on weekends. Engage in the practice with moderation.”

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