An onion ring with a human eye inlaid at the centre, a solitary tear drop falling from it

🥳 Ten years of crying clubs

In 2013, a visionary entrepreneur started the world's first crying club in Japan. What have we learnt about crying alone and in a pack?

Tanmoy Goswami
Welcome to Sanity's Season 2 for 2023. Our theme for this season is Happy Things. And today's story is about one of my favourite activities: crying 🥲. There there. I promise it'll be a joyful read despite the lacrymose topic.

You see, it's 10 years of the world's first crying club, which was started in Tokyo by a visionary entrepreneur. His most popular offering is a service where women cry under the guidance of a handsome man. #TrueStory. I wanted to ask: What have we learnt about crying alone and in a pack? I found some surprising answers.

Also, it's been a while since I made a proper appeal for subscriptions. So here goes: Sanity's readership is growing every day, but paying support is sadly going down 😢. I know I've been away and not aggressive about recovering all those failed payments because of pesky credit card issues. "Plus what do you expect if you keep everything available for free, duh!" wellwishers have told me. But I really, really don't want to put things behind a hard paywall. It's such a killjoy.

So will you please pick one of the options below and help me carry on doing what I do best without worrying about sustainability. Thanks.

Lovely then. Enjoy the edition, and keep writing in. – Tanmoy

"A little bit of onion juice in your eye/will make you cry," announces a voice befitting a Shakespearean town crier. The audience is a group of people dressed like cosplayers, huddling grimly over a table with a heap of onions in various stages of being chopped.

"Thank you so much, and I will smell nice as well," says one member of the group as she gets a slice of onion rubbed on the bags under her eyes. It's the British comedian and actor Jo Brand. Before her entertainment career, Brand worked a decade as a psychiatric nurse at Maudsley Hospital in London, so her appearance in this setting adds up.

"Chop chop," the town crier orders. "No one's leaving until every single onion is chopped." The group now begins to break out into sobs, some members offering their shoulders to the others, the tears seemingly flowing from their souls and not merely induced by all the syn-Propanethial-S-oxide in the air.

The scene is from a British crying club, which is exactly what you think it is. What they do with all the onions after their catalytic role is over isn't clear from the 55-second video I found online.

An onion slice

I am a habitual cryer, a hopeless lacrymose romantic. I find the idea of crying in a commune fascinating. Exactly 10 years ago, a visionary Japanese entrepreneur – it had to be Japan – sensed the potential of mass tear-jerking-as-a-service and kickstarted a whole new industry.

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