Japanese Zen Temple Begins to Offer Symbolic Same-Sex Marriages to LGBT Community

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Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for LGBT couples looking to marry.

The Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto, Japan, has become the first zen Buddhist temple to offer a symbolic same-sex wedding.


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.”

With the temple’s priest, Takafumi Kawakami adding…

“It’s not like we have to keep tradition the way it is. We welcome every couple regardless of their faith or sexual orientation.”

Takafumi Kawakami

The temple officially began providing same-sex marriages in 2011, but given the conservative nature of Japan, the service hasn’t been widely publicised or recognised here.

Japan’s views on homosexuality are a complex one. Despite artistic cultural exports that shows Japan as being a socially progressive society in regards to gender and sexual expression, the country still struggles with broad legislation that would ensure LGBT equality.

Though there are a number of openly queer politicians in Japan, openly gay people run the risk of being evicted, fired, or denied access to Japan’s health care

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If only the world was as “open-minded” as us… Alas, matters of sexual identity and equal love, often cause so much friction in the rest of the world. Here, find an open dialogue on the issues facing our LGBT community.

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