The most awkward bonding exercise ever? Japan’s new trend for office crying workshops

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Amy Lewis
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Workplace bonding exercises are rarely of the non-awkward variety, but even still, this new trend taking over offices in Japan has us cringing at our desks.

Tackling the Japanese culture of emotional restraint head-on, offices are now hiring ikemeso danshi (translation: handsome weeping boys), to run workshops where employees cry together.

But that’s not all.

It’s the role of the ikemeso danshi running the session to physically wipe away the tears from your face. Cue the most awkward relationship building exercise ever.

According to a BBC report, here’s how it all works. Employees gather in a room together. The ikemeso danshi leading the session will then play a series of short films and video clips intended to make everyone in the room cry (think fatally ill dogs and family members dying alone).

He’ll lead this group cry by first shedding a few tears himself, and then move around the room with a big fluffy handkerchief, to wipe away the tears of each team member.

Not feeling so resentful of that that team lunch date now, are you?

The idea behind these crying workshops, founder Hiroki Terai tells the BBC, is to breakdown barriers between people, helping them to embrace feeling vulnerable and hopefully, bringing the team closer as a result.

Terai’s entire business is based on crying sessions; he began with divorce ceremonies, where separating couples would crush their rings with a hammer and then cry together, before setting up crying workshops in Tokyo in 2013, and now the company sessions.

“I want Japanese people to cry,” he explains. “Not only at home but in the office. If you cry at work [you think] your co-workers will not want to touch you - there's a really negative image.

“But I know that after you cry and let people see your vulnerability, you can get along even better with people which is also good for the company. It creates a better working environment and people get along better.”

So why the handsome men? “It's so different to daily life,” concludes Terai. “It's exciting.”

Listen to the full BBC report below.


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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.