Why I got interested:
To tell the truth, I was not a bit interested in Tokyo meet market after moving to Tokyo. As a woman in her 20′s who loves Sex and the City, who have enjoyed casual dates in New York and in Boston, who loves the happy hours in the local pub, drinking cosmopolitan, and dancing until the late hours on Friday…. Tokyo meet market did not seem even a bit appealing.
However, having said that, I was always curious of Japanese style of dating that goes on in Tokyo meet market, as a sociologist. I often found it interesting that there seemed various rules of conduct in everything about dating, from meeting people, dating, to text messaging. I am not kidding when I say “rules of conduct,” there really are rules that pretty much everyone in the Japanese dating scene follows.
When it comes to dating, every culture has its own rules of conduct to some extent. But the dating scene in this ethnicly homogeneous country with mono-culture runs on stricter rules and convention than I have seen in the US or in the Western Europe. It might be unfair to say that the Japanese love rules, but Japanese etiquette is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. Over the years, Japanese have developed rules of conducts that suits the nation whose people are traditionally reserved, shy, and socially nervous.
And finally after 3 years living in Tokyo, I have heard enough about Tokyo meet market from my girl friends already. It’s time for me to enter the market to see it for myself for once.
What I am interested in:
My question is simple: “how do they do it here?”
How do people find their partners? how do they connect? how do they find romance in a dating scene with such strict rules of conduct???
The nature of Japanese culture and lifestyle offers rarer opportunities to meet new people or to find romance… It just seems that Tokyo has a culture, society, people that are just not romance-friendly to me.
shyness runs deep, and loneliness often seems to be endemic…
many seem to dread spontaneous conversation with strangers…
feelings and emotion are supressed and hidden…
passion is only to be communicated through text messages…
everyone is busy, running around the city, working 24 – 7, and their only intimate moment is shared in a restaurant and a hotel once in 2 weeks…
traditional gender stereotypes still persists; men searching for demure meek women and wo
men searching for rich successful men to take care of her and the future family…
Well, after 3 years, I finally decided to jump in the water to see what it really takes to find romance in this asphalt jungle.
How I’m gonna do this:
The best way to really learn about unfamiliar culture and society is field study. Nothing is better than participating and observing, but at the same time, studying and analyzing the behaviors of people.
Luckily, my role as an ethnographer is well hidden by my outlook of Japanese and my social status as a single working 20-something woman.
I have also given myself “imechen” (image change or makeover) to perfectly look the part of an eligible Japanese bachelorette for entering the Tokyo meet market. Here are some of the efforts invested in order to give myself “the eligible Japanese bachelorette” makeover:
1) Good bye black straight hair! hello curly brown hair
Went to the beauty salon to dye my hair brown and to curl my hair
2) Grew my nails and gave myself a nice clean manicure
3) Good bye freckles and tanned skin!
Bought loads of cosmetics to “whiten” my skin
4) Good bye jeans and t-shirts, hello pencil skirts
5) Good bye cleavage!
Bought loads of lace trim camis to wear under deep v-neck sweaters
6) Good bye sneakers and flip flops, hello
With the right motivation, make over, and supportive girl friends who have the right connections and the networks with the eligible bachelor friends, there’s nothing to hold me back from entering the Tokyo meet market. Now I’m ready! So Tokyo boys, here I come!