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Japan's loudest lovebirds shout gratitude to their wives

Kiyoshi Ota / EPA

A husband shouts a message of love to his wife in a Tokyo park as part of an annual tradition in which normally reserved men declare their feelings in the most vocal manner.

TOKYO — Love was in the air in a Tokyo park as normally staid Japanese husbands gathered to scream out their feelings for their wives, promising gratitude and extra tight hugs.

With modesty and reticence traditionally valued over outspokenness, expressing deeper feelings such as love has long been hard in Japan.

That's why dozens of Japanese men gather once a year ahead of Jan. 31, which in Japanese is a play on the words for "beloved wife," to let their feelings fly.

Declarations at the Tuesday night event ranged from a simple "I'll love you forever" to expressions of gratitude for homemade boxed lunches.

"I'm sorry that I've gained weight over the last seven years," a suit-clad man yelled. "But that's because the meals you cook are so delicious."

The event, now in its fifth year, was thought up by Kiyotaka Yamana with the support of a local flower shop to urge Japanese men to show their affection in more explicit ways.

Kiyoshi Ota / EPA

Husbands, shouting in unison, declare their love for their wives as part of an event that urges normally staid Japanese men to show their romantic side.

"The economy is getting better in Japan, and I see a lot of Japanese married couples getting more active in deepening their relationships," Yamana said.

Yamana founded the Japan Aisaika Organization, which promotes a culture of "Aisaika" or "adoring husbands." The group's website says it created Beloved Wives Day to urge Japanese husbands to "get home by 8 p.m. and say thanks to their wives for all they do."

At Tuesday's event, wives in the audience laughed and clapped, especially when one man got down on his knees to offer his wife a bouquet.

"He's very fabulous and manly today," said Yuko Todo, 33, after husband Takeshi's performance. "It just reminded me how macho he used to be — I'd forgotten that in the eight years we've been married. My heart pounded."