Municipal meet-ups and pet-owner get-togethers for shy singles

May 21st, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

The food of love in Tochigi prefecture

The food of love in Tochigi Prefecture

What could be more romantic than a strawberry picking outing with a bunch of young singles in the pretty countryside of Tochigi Prefecture? Well, it depends on your attitude to romance, but matchmaking events like the Yellow Handkerchief Party are becoming increasingly popular and practical approach for singletons desperate for a good match.

According to Himote Times, in response to falling birthrates, local governments have reacted by jumping on the konkatsu (marriage hunting) bandwagon and setting up group dating miai for residents who find it hard to hook up with the opposite sex in the course of their normal lives. Far from considering such events as deeply unhip, many single people view the get-togethers as safer than the ones organized by more commercial interests.

Just recently Aichi Prefecture launched a group called Aichi Encounter Support Service. The service’s mission is to set up various miai events in the prefecture. In Ishikawa Prefecture, the Chamber of Commerce has set up a Yukata Coupling Party, a mixer where the participants dress in traditional Japanese summer clothing for July this year.

Even JR have got in on the konkatsu action. According to Mainichi, on June 20 a train on the Koumi Line that runs between Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures will host a dating party for train enthusiast singles in the 25-40 age bracket. Entertainment will come in the form of  train-themed games and quizzes.

It seems that commercial konkatsu events are becoming increasingly specialized since the boom caught the public’s interest back in 2008. Last year we reported on the popularity of gorukon, dating events for golf enthusiasts, and this year it seems that pekon (pet matchmaking parties) are now all the rage. Taking advantage of the recent trend for pet-friendly cafes, single dog owners can attend events such as this one held at the Blue Dog Café.

Whether you’d like to hook up with someone under the watchful eye of your local government or prefer to attend a private event where you can meet someone who shares your passion (be it for trains or dogs) similar pricing systems seem to apply across the board: Men have to shell out more. The Yellow Handkerchief event sets men back ¥4,000, while women only pay ¥1,000, while the pekon event we mentioned costs ¥4,500 for men and ¥4,000 for women. While the dating scene may be undergoing a revolution in Japan, the old-fashioned notion of men footing (at least the majority of) the bill still applies.

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