Posts Tagged ‘gokon’

Gokon matchmakers fan the passion with sporting dates

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

This year, the Japan Sumo Association and matchmaking website Konpa de Koi Plan are giving eligible singles a chance to mingle and possibly fall in love at the ongoing March sumo tournament.

sumokon_press

The sumokon price of admission gets you a reserved spectator box, a meal, a photo session with a former wrestler and perhaps the chance to pin down a partner for life.

The special event, called sumokon, is a portmanteau of sumo and konpa, which means “company.” It is derived from another abbreviated term — gōkon, which translates as a group blind date.

A typical gōkon usually takes place at an izakaya (pub), consisting of even-numbered male and female members. Games are sometimes played to break the ice. This scenario is popular in Japan as it takes away the pressure of meeting a date one on one. More large-scale gōkon have emerged over the years and proven to be profitable for the organizers. One example is machikon, a mixer event that involves bar hopping.

Recently, the increase in younger sumo wrestlers has attracted more female spectators — and, in turn, the matchmaking business.

On March 18, a spectator booth at the Osaka BodyMaker Colosseum will be reserved for five men and women between the ages of 20 and 45.

“We wanted to expand the field of dating,” explained Chie Goda, marketing manager at Goodwill Planning, which is helping promote Konpa de Koi Plan.

Taking note of the increase in young sumo fans, the company thought it would be interesting to see if sparks fly as heavyweights do battle on the dohyo (sumo ring)

According to Goda, Konpa de Koi have recently been focusing on supōtsu-kon, where members can view their favorite sport with their blind date.

“Last year, we did a baseball-kon and horse racing-kon,” Goda said.

Umakon participants take part in a group date at horse races.

Umakon participants take part in a group date at horse races.

To some, watching large, half-naked men tackle each other may not be the ideal romantic setting, but this unique blend of traditional culture and modern dating may be the perfect combination for single sumo fans, or, perhaps, a good icebreaker. But the men may find themselves competing for the ladies’ attention as new young wrestlers like Bana Asayama, a former bodybuilder, make their debuts this season.

The sumokon begin with lunch, followed by a photo session with a former rikishi (sumo wrestler). Members will then receive free sumo souvenirs before watching the tournament. The charge is ¥9,800 for men and ¥6,800 for women.

“Many of the sumokon members have never seen a sumo tournament before, so I’m sure they are feeling very excited,” Goda said. “I hope that the passion for sports will turn into love for someone special.”

Making new connections over lunch

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Social Lunch app hooks up like-minded business people

A new way of networking is catching on with the twenty- to thirtysomething crowd in Japan. Social lunches arranged over the web, where those in similar industries get together for an informal chat have been growing in popularity lately. At the forefront of this trend is the Facebook app Social Lunch which matches up pairs of professionals for friendly lunches. The idea is that going with a friend you already know takes a lot of the stress out of occasion. According to J-Cast, since the app launched in October last year, 20,000 people have registered for the service and around 900 social lunch dates have taken place as a result.

The app, produced by SyncLunch Inc., is simple to use: Team up with a friend in a similar profession, type in preferred location and time and it will match you up with another pair who may be useful for you to network with for a lunch date. J-Cast’s writer signed up with a former colleague who was a graphic designer and was paired up with a couple of guys, one of whom was looking for design tips for his new website. The lunch was a success and seemed a possible opening to future collaborations.

A similar option is the Twitter-based Hirukai service from Digital Garage Inc. Instead of meeting at a restaurant, though, the meet-up organizer offers a space in their office for others to gather in. Bringing along their own bento lunches, those attending can swap ideas, or sandwiches, in an informal atmosphere.

The model for Social Lunch borrows something from gokon (group dating), in which  the presence of friends takes much of the stress out of an initial encounter with a potential partner. As marriage rates fall, gokon, konkatsu (marriage hunting) and now machikon events have been on the rise and this has been accompanied by a slew of  new apps to help young Japanese find Mr. or Ms. Right. As young Japanese are increasingly willing to try out group dating, it seems that the next logical step is for go-getters to find business partners by using similar methods.

iPhones become ice-breakers at gokon dating parties

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

gokon

iPhone apps like “Shuffle de Gokon” are helping singles make connections – this will mix up your seating arrangements.

After an initial dormancy, the iPhone has boomed in Japan over the past two years and attracted hordes of app developers. Japan Pulse has previously reported on iPhone apps for car sharing, moms and moms-to-be, streaming concerts, children’s books and business cards, but now app store dealers have infiltrated the gokon – the Japanese group blind date.

Gokon (合コン) is a contracted form of the word godo konpa (合同コンパ), which literally means “combined company.” For a gokon, generally one girl and one guy will reserve a location and agree to bring along a set number of their friends (of the same sex) for a combined date. The goal? Get your drink on and woo/be wooed.

iPhone apps and Japanese blogs have found many ways to use the ubiquitous phone while at a gokon. What Japan Thinks has an English-language rundown of a Goo survey that asked site visitors which apps are best suited for use at a gokon.

Standard gokon etiquette states that initial seating arrangements should be men on one side of a table and women on the other. “Gokon de Shuffle” gets things off to a running start with seating randomization, a fun way to mix up the evening. Will it put you next to the girl of your dreams? Or the friend she brought with her who is . . . nice. This was the highest rated app in the survey.

There are plenty more ice-breakers at the App Store. “Touch Scan Pro” and “Love Touch” both offer love compatibility tests where users give fingerprints in exchange for readings. (The former also includes lie detection, an IQ scan and a horoscope reader.) While apps like this may claim to offer services, in the end they are really just plain fun, and the Love Touch site rightly warns users not to take the results too seriously: “This is really random . . . please don’t fight.”

Once the beverages start to work their magic, conversation topics get more daring. “Dice Talk” helps catalyze that process with a little Truth-or-Dare style sets of questions, with three different modes for friends, significant others or gokon.

Clearly the goal of all these apps is to induce some sort of interaction. A group of young adults huddled around an iPhone on a date, however, unfortunately recalls the world author Gary Shteyngart describes in “Lenny Hearts Eunice,” an excerpt from his upcoming novel “Super Sad True Love Story” which details a future in which people lie next to each other and, in lieu of actual interaction, stare at their “äppäräti” – futuristic iPhone-like entertainment devices.

But not all of this can be blamed on the iPhone – people have been always been searching for shortcuts to meaningful interaction, and some of these apps only mimic things that exist in the real world. One Japanese blog suggests using “PullPullPic,” an app that lets users alter photographs – not unlike purikura, which has existed for decades.

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