UTSUNOMIYA--Two female university students plan to wed 26 times overseas to raise awareness of the fact that they cannot do the same thing in their home country.

Misato Kawasaki, 21, and Mayu Otaki, 22, juniors at the Department of International Cultural Studies of Utsunomiya University’s Faculty of International Studies, will hold wedding ceremonies in 26 countries and regions where same-sex marriages are legal.

The couple will start their six-month journey in March.

“I want to show through our wedding photos that being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) is normal so that those who are troubled by their sexual status can harbor hope,” Kawasaki said.

The “26-time marriage” plan, proposed by Otaki, is designed to gradually change Japanese society by showing the situation in places that have approved same-gender marriages.

The two students started dating in late 2017.

Kawasaki thought she might prefer women during her high school days. But she did not date girls because she believed that would make her “abnormal.”

She came out as a lesbian after entering university.

Otaki was aware that she could love people of the same sex when she was a high school student.

After dating Kawasaki and reflecting on herself, Otaki realized she is pansexual, which means she can be attracted to others regardless of gender.

Several months into their relationship, Kawasaki asked Otaki, “Will you stay with me forever?”

Kawasaki wanted to say, “Will you marry me?” Some local governments in Japan certify same-sex partnerships, but on the national level, such marriages are still not legally recognized.

Kawasaki and Otaki felt strongly about eradicating prejudice against LGBT individuals and allowing sexual minorities to live easily in the country.

They started sharing their feelings on their blog and social networking sites using their real names and faces.

Kawasaki and Otaki have also told their families and friends about their sexual status.

They recently posted wedding photos snapped at the university’s campus and Nikko Toshogu shrine in Tochigi Prefecture on Instagram. Kawasaki wore a suit while Otaki donned feminine clothing.

“We are involved in activities while showing our names and faces so that people will get interested in us,” Otaki said. “We have no reason to conceal (our personal information).”

Under the “26-time marriage” plan, the couple will interview other Japanese same-sex couples and government officials in the countries and regions where same-gender marriages are allowed.

Kawasaki and Otaki said they hope to determine if prejudice still exists in those nations and regions, and why Japan has yet to introduce a same-gender marriage system.

Through those activities, they will seek ways to make same-sex marriage legal in Japan.

Transportation and lodging costs are estimated at 2.07 million yen ($18,400) per person. Their incomes from part-time jobs and savings cannot cover all expenses, so they are soliciting money through crowdfunding.

The two will take leave from university and start their journey in Britain in late March. They will then tour Europe, Africa, North America and South America by September.

After returning to Japan, Kawasaki and Otaki intend to organize a meeting to present their findings. They are also planning to set up their own company to provide wedding services specially designed for sexual minorities.

For more information on their activities and crowdfunding campaign, visit their website at (https://faavo.jp/tsukuba/project/3410).