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Archive for July 2009

My friend from New York (this girl) recently contacted me with a link to wallstreet journal article saying “i saw this article on the front page of the wall street journal and was reminded of your genius sociological observations!”

I won’t call myself “genius”, but I must admit I’m a little proud of myself for being such a trend spotter.

Ever since I started this blog to explore Tokyo Meet Market and its gokon stories and konkatsu frenziness, it seems the international media has also started to pay more and more attention to new Tokyo Meet Market. With the introduction of the new word “konkatsu,” the world seems to be more and more interested in what’s going on in the Tokyo Meet Market.

And here are some interesting articles that I have seen in the international media:

June 29th

Japan’s Latest Fad: Spouse-Hunting
http://www.newser.com/story/63090/japans-latest-fad-spouse-hunting.html

Japan Has a New Name for the Mating Game: Konkatsu - Wall street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124623617832566695.html

July 13th

Fad or crisis? Japan’s ‘marriage hunting’ craze – Diva
http://www.divaasia.com/article/4374

Tags:

With Nikujaga,  you have proved your cooking skill that matches a mother’s skill. Next is a recipe that let you show off your cuteness and playfulness. The golden recipe for cutendss is Omurice.

Omurice (omelet and rice) is a contemporary Japanese dish of seasoned fried rice, wrapped inside an omelet. Omurice was invented in Japan, and it became a popular dish cooked at home. The popularity of omurice has recently been revived due to its popularity in maid cafe. A maid cafe typically serves Omurice with ketchup drawing services by a maid. The customer can request the maid to draw their favorite word or motif on the omelette rice. This is recipe which lets you show off your cooking skill and artistic skill at the same time!

Omurice recipe:

Ingredients (serves 2) :

  • 2 cups steamed Japanese rice
  • 1/4 lb. chicken breast
  • 1/2 green peppers, chopped
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 eggs

Preparation:

  1. Cook steamed rice
  2. Cut the ingredients:
    • Cut chicken into small pieces
    • Chop green pepper and onion
    • Slice mushrooms thinly
  3. Stir-fry the ingredients:
    • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet and saute chicken
    • Add onion, mushrooms, and green pepper in the skillet and saute together until softened
    • Add steamed rice in the pan and stir-fry together
  4. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Stop the heat and add ketchup and mix well
  5. Set the seasoned rice aside
  6. Heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet
  7. Beat two eggs in a small bowl and pour the egg in the skillet. Quickly spread the egg and make a round omelet
  8. Place 1/4 of the seasoned rice in the middle of the omelet and fold top and bottom sides of omelet over the rice
  9. Cover the frying pan with a plate and turn them over to place the omerice in the plate
  10. Repeat this process to make four omelet rice
  11. Draw cute cartoon or write a cute message with ketchup on top of omurice just before serving
Omurice with sweet message saying "Nice job, a long day at work"

Omurice with sweet message saying "Nice job, a long day at work"

“If you want to win the guys’ heart, grab his stomach first”

That’s what Japanese say, that if you show him how well you cook and if you win his stomach, then he will fall in love with you and marry you.You don’t have to cook like a chef from a five star restaurant. What Japanese men look for on the dinner table is not restaurant quality food, but a comfort food that reminds them of their mother’s food.

So what is the golden recipe to win his heart? It’s nikujaga, (meaning meat-potato), a Japanese dish of meat, potatoes and onion stewed in sweetened soy sauce. Nikujaga may not seem typically Japanese since the main ingredients niku (meat) and jagaimo (potatoes) are historically not traditional Japanese foodstuffs. But Nikujaga is a popular meal especially at home,  it is a typical “mother’s taste” meal. The taste of Nikujaga may surprise you because of the ingredients sugar and soya sauce, but I am sure that the surprise will be a positive one, and you will be even more surprised by how happy Japanese men will react to your delicious nikujaga.

Nikujaga Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound beef (thinly sliced or cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 2 cups potatoes
  • 1 carrot (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 cups dashi (or water or beef stock)
  • 3 tablespoons soy
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 green onion (sliced)
  • shichimi togarashi to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Add the beef and brown on all sides
  3. Add the onion, squash and carrot and saute for 5 minutes
  4. Add the dashi, soy, sugar, sake and mirin, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender
  5. Serve on a plate, smile at him, and tell him you tried your best to recreate your mother’s flavor

Nikujaga 500

Tags:

Romance meter: 65%
Conclusion: This turned out to be the most decent date in my Tokyo Meet Market experience, probably because it was a double date of “successfully matched couples” and because we shared experience of surviving Monday night omiai party. As in the case with gokon, Japanese people seem to perform better when in group than as individuals. Perhaps that’s why gokon is preferred to Western style one-to-one blind date, and group dating is preferred to one-to-one date.

Genre: dinner double date following konkatsu party
Show time: Monday 9:30pm-
Running time: 90 min
MPAA rating: PG
Cast: my friend and I, #4 and #5 from konkatsu party

Synopsis:

(continued from Konkatsu party frenziness)

“Congratulations!!! Tonight we have 13 matched couple” the match maker shouted with happiness and excitement! “I will announce the paired numbers and the guys will leave the building and please wait for your partner downstairs. And here we go, the first pair is…”  it was my friend and #4, and me and #5…

We left the Mariage company office and the two guys were standing in front of the door waiting for us. They smiled shyly and one of them said “haha… so we were successfully matched, this is nice, we were quite surprised, didn’t think this kind of things work. Anyways, it was so dry in the room and we are so thirsty, do you want to go for drink with us?”

So we went along to an izakaya near by and toasted to our fateful encounter. And I must say, it was a nice comfortable dinner full of interesting conversation. It was unusual date… in a way it was similar to gokon in a way we were dining with complete strangers trying to get to know eachother, but it was also similar to a normal double date, at the same time there was mutual mixed feeling of awkward embarassment (from how we met eachother in a matchmaking party), excitement (how we were successfuly matched), and hope (that this might turn out to be something in the future). And our conversation flourished around them.

After the toast, we, again, exchanged our profile card just as a reminder of who it was that we were matched to. We picked up the conversation from the profile card once again, but this time, more casual and relaxed. We asked eachother more personal questions than during the speed dating to get to know eachother. We shared our experience and review on the speed dating, since it was first time experience for 3 of us. We again expressed how surprised we were to have been matched and how surprisingly natural to have double dinner with the matched partners. The conversation was mostly between the matched couples, but at times, when one couple runs out of things to say, then the four of us would converse together. There seems to be mutual support among the four of us to take things forward from quite embarassing encounter in a matchmaking party.

At the end of the dinner, there was exchange of  contact information between the matched couples and we parted our ways with casual promise to get together in the future. Within 1 hour after good byes, both #4 and #5 texted to their matched partner thanking us for a wonderful night, and hoping to see us soon for double date to enjoy summer fun together. “hmmm… this is how serious these guys are when they actually pay $60 to meet women….” my friend and I nodded convinced of the dedication and seriousness of the konkatsu activist guys.

Review:

Konkatsu activist guys are serious about finding partners. Don’t play with them, they are serious. As much as they treat us nicely though, I wonder…. if they are treating us nicely because they like us, I mean from the bottom of their heart they feel some attraction, anything, even lust … or do they just treat us well because we are women, their potential housewives in the future… funny I never asked myself this question, but I have asked myself similar one: is he nice to me because he likes me or does he just want to sleep with me? Well I guess with the konkatsu guys, it’s more of  “does he just want to marry me?” LoL that’s new!

Smurfs_TV_Show_Wooing_Smurfs

Phase 1: Choosing the right event targeted at appropriate population segment

  1. Know the differences among various parties
    • Petite omiai party: It is where you have the chance to converse with every participants for 2-3 min, followed by free time to converse with those you felt affection with. Because it is highly organized and the process is systematical, giving every participant chance to meet all participants, it has higher rate of success. It also allows because speed dating is an individual play, one can participate alone.
    • Large omiai party: Most popular  style of omiai party which is more flexible than speed dating style of petite omiai party. It is more like a dinner party with games and matching events organized throughout the party. It gives people more time to converse with participants they are interested in.  Since meeting people require some aggressiveness, if you are shy person, this is not the party for you.
    • Travel omiai party: This is an all day event where the agency rents out a bus and takes the participants on a day trip to amusement park or hiking in the mountain or whatever. Throughout the day, participants get to know eachother while having fun together on a relaxing weekend trip
  2. Identify target segment- who do you want to meet?
    • What are you looking for? a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife?
      The higher the entrance fee is, the more serious participants are in kokatsu acitivty and the higher the success rate is for finding your life partner. Identify what you are looking for and choose the appropriate event with appropriate level of entrance fee.
    • Every omiai party has requirement for participants… whether it’s age, salary, marital status, academic degree, occupation, find out what your target segment is and choose the appropriate event with the people you want to meet with.

Phase 2: Looking groovy for the party – no need to be sexy or beautiful, the most important thing is to look clean!

  • Guys, watch out for body odor, bad breath,  beard, dirty nails, dirty shoes, unwashed un-ironed shirts
  • Girls, no need to show off your cleavages, but look clean and pure, smell like soap and smile a lot

Phase 3: What to do at the party

  1. Be on time, or rather, get there early
    • Tardiness could mess up your experience in the event completely: messy hair, lack of time for last minute makeover,  bad impression, lack of time to work on profile card, nervousness, panic
  2. Work on your profile card, write a lot, give lots of information
    • Since your profile card is conversation initiator, you want to really work on a well developed profile card which opens conversation with various participants easily and openly. Starting a conversation with a total strangers is difficult so in most cases, you and your partner will start the conversation from eachothers’ profiles. Put as many information as possible, but nothing heavy, nothing serious, write down trendy movies and interesting hobbies, new trendy restaurants in town and interesting stories of your latest vacation! https://tokyocherie.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
  3. Don’t get drunk
    • no need to explain in detail… I suppose

For advanced participants: Tricks for Omiai Party

  1. Be a good listener more than a good talker
  2. (If you really wanna be “matched”) Mark as many people as appealing for the final matching vote, this will increase your chance of being “matched” to someone
  3. Give out your mobile phone number and email addresses on your “message card” to increase the chance of being contacted after the party even if you fail to be “matched” for the night
  4. Use follow-up service
    After the party, if you really want to contact unforgettable participants you met at the party but were not matched to, you can ask the agent to send personal message to them for extra fee.

Souce: Men’s strategy for Omiai party
http://www.konkatuman.com/entry13.html

Note: I thought it’s not just for male so I translated/edited some information to make it general tips and advice

My friend went to a konkatsu party and she told me all about it, so let me share the details… ok ok, I must confess, it’s not just my friend who went to the konkatsu party, I went with her. As you can guess, we were a little hesitant and a little embarassed to attend the konkatsu party, but what the heck. Life is all about experience!

Romance meter: 65%
Conclusion: Although speed dating with 35 men can be very dizzy, it’s surprising how 2min quick chat is enough to see if there is any potential between you two, and it seems this instinct is often mutual between the couples… well, at least in our cases it was. Konkatsu party turns out to be much more efficient, cheaper(at least for us girls), and safer way to meet people than going to a gokon.

Genre: Speed dating (with no alcohol)
Show time: 7:30pm
Running time: 120 min
MPAA rating: G

Guys team: 35 men in the 20’s with college degree or in civil service with 3,500,000 JPY ($35,000) annual salary
Girls team: 35 women in the 20’s

Synopsis:

We arrived at a building in ginza which had a sign “Mariage company” on the 5th floor of the building at 7:20pm, 10min before the party starts. In the elevator up to 5th floor were us and 2 more girls dressed in pastel color spring dresses doing last min make up with pink lip gross. They were, like us, a little hesitant but a little excited to “see what’s out there,” well, aren’t we all like that when we go out to a night out may be expecting something special to happen. So… may be konkatsu party isn’t all that weird… was what I was thinking just when the elevator door opened and there were 20 men  lining up to pay the 6,500 JPY ($70) entrance fee to the konkatsu party… ok… this is no “normal party” for sure… but then again, don’t men always pay higher entrance for night clubs and bars, when women often get free drinks and discounted entrance? so it is normal that men pay higher fee to meet women.

At the reception, women were asked to show their ID to confirm their identity and received the profile card to fill in. We were also given an assigned number and a number plate to put on our clothes. From here on, everything that happened during the party was as described on the company website, as translated in What is Konkatsu party.

Here is what happened for us, me and my friend. First we were given 70min to have 2 min conversation with 35 men. This was an experience. I think this is the most people I have ever talked with in 70min without being hydrated. (they should really give us a bottle of water, or better yet, a bottle of beer!) But as surprising as it sounds, 2 min is enough to figure out if there is any possibility with the guy we are talking to. Sometimes, 2 min is too long even! When the guy is too short, or has overly jelled hair, or wearing a black shirt with skull and crossbones, or … well whatever that is not so appealing, you know there is not going to be anything between you and him. And this is not surprising, we use this kind of judgmental instinct everywhere in the dating scene. Whether in a bar, night club, dinner part, restaurant, or among your friends, we use this instinct to see if he could be your potential object of affection!

Among the 35 men, there were a pair of lawyers (#4 and #5) who were also coming to the konkatsu party together for the first time (I believe… well at least that’s what they told us) and the 2 of them were co-workers/friends. Although the speed dating is designed to be an individual game, since we were both sitting next to our friends so the 4 of us started to converse together for the total of 4 min. As you can imagine, the ease of involving our friends took away the nervousness and we hit it of fairly well. The fact they worked very close to our office, and often go for lunch in the same neighborhood, and go for after 6 drink in the same area helped our conversation flourish.We scored them “mb” (for may be) in our checklist. Most of the others were given “nw” which in our code stood for NO WAY.

During the approach time (this is the time we are supposed to approach the people we found interesting during the speed dating process), my friend and I decided not to approach anyone (since no one was THAT interesting anyway, why make the effort) and let the guys approach us. We also receive message card from secret admires. My friend received messages from 2 secret admires, and she showed me the card. One of the messages was from a NO WAY guy which had his mobile phone mail address and a message saying “let’s have coffee together sometime. I am REALLY interested in you” to which she shaked her head sadly. The next message was from one of the lawyers (#4) we talked with! With a smile she showed me the card which read “wanna go for drinks after this is over?”  #4 and #5  then approached us to our table and we continued our conversation from where we left it off, the bike trip #4 did from Spain to France.

Then, we were told to cast a final vote for potential partners. We were tempted to not vote at all so to avoid being “matched up”, so we can just go for a drink ourselves to laugh about the whole experience… but  then she showed me the message from #4 and shrugged her shoulder. “oh well… what the heck, why not put #4 and #5 and see what happens”…

During the matching process conducted in the backroom, we were shown a brain washing DVD about a happy partners who met in the konkatsu party and are now happily married. The happy wives all wore pink apron and welcomed their salary-men husbands home, thanking the agency for “matching them” and helping them find happiness. We were also given a thick booklet with a 150 page list of all the konkatsu parties, konkatsu golf, konkatsu bbq, konkatsu hanabi, konkatsu breakfast, konkatsu dance,… I mean the list goes on and on for all the “social event” the agency hosts with match making as main objective. This made me feel really sad and gave me goose bumps… how people must be so lonely in this metropolis Tokyo…

“Congratulations!!! Tonight we have 13 matched couple” the match maker shouted with happiness and excitement! “I will announce the paired numbers and the guys will leave the building and please wait for your partner downstairs. And here we go, the first pair is…”

(to be condinued in Tokyo date report #3: double date after konkatsu party)

Review:

If I must chose between spending 4000JPY ($40) to spend 3 hrs in a cheap restaurant drinking beer, stuck with group of not-so-interesting not-so-impressive guys pretending to have fun, and spending 120min talking with 35 men with no drink not even water, but having dinner and drink bought by a pair of fairly interesting people somehow “matching” our taste, I’d prefer the latter option.

But then again, this is not my real review of this konkatsu party. I’m truly shocked to have seen people who are really involved in konkatsu activity that I have been jokingly about. Some of the people at the party, I could tell, were serious konkatsu activist… and well… I don’t know what to say… let me digest this experience a bit more.

photoh2

I heard my friend is going to Konkatsu party, trying out an alternative way to meet men in Tokyo. What is a konkatsu party anyway, how does it work?

Company hosting the party: Exeo
http://www.exeo-japan.co.jp/ex_party/index.html

Participants: 15-20 male and 15-20 female

Things to bring: ID, pen, business card

Party process:

  1. Reception: please arrive on time, reception starts 15min before the start of the party. Show your ID, fill out profile card, put on a number plate (not a name plate!!!) which displays a number you are assigned.Profile card below asks you to fill in responses for the following questions:
    1) name 2) age 3) address 4) city of residence 5) living alone/living with family 6) height 7) horoscope 8 ) blood type 9) occupation 10) city of employment 11) days of no-business day 12) what you look for in opposite sex 13) favorite movies 14) describe your personality in one word 15) how do you spend your free time 16) family structure 17) marriage record 18) illustrate where you want to go for the first date 19) hobbies or special skill 20) favorite food

    The profile will be used for the start of conversation

    profile card

    profile card

  2. Speed dating: The step 2 of the party is conversing with each opposite sex for 3 min, by exchanging the profile card and finding as much information about eachother in the 3 min. At the end of 3 min, you fill out a check sheet to note down your impression of the ones you talked to.

    check sheet to evaluate the opposite sex

    check sheet to evaluate the opposite sex

  3. Approach time: After you’ve talked to everyone for 3 min, fill out “impression card” to evaluate the first impression of each participant and choose 3+ participants you found favorable. Then fill out “approach card” for the participants you would like to get to know more. You can write personal messages, note your contact information on the approach card. The approach card will delivered by the staff in discretion during the “free time”
    Tips for filling out impression card:

    1) mark as many participants as favorable, at least more than 3 up to t or even 10 2) if you really want to find a partner, the best practice to mark as many participants as favorable * Note: tip 1 and 2 are exactly the same things LoL but it’s writte on the card below

    impression card

    impression card

  4. Free time: You will be given aggregated result of “impression card” and “approach card” (so you know who is interested in you) to decide whom to approach during this free time. You will be given 3-4 min to converse with 3-4 participants you want to get to know better. Use the result and be aggressive to approach the potential partners who already like you little bit!
  5. Final vote: After all this meeting, now it’s time to rank your preference for future partner. Rank the top 6 participants in the order of your preference and the agency will match out the result in the back… just few min until you meet the man of your dreams LoL
    *Note: you don’t write the name of the participant, you write down the assigned number… why!? LoL

    final vote is casted

    final vote is casted

  6. Coupling announcement: The successfuly made couples will be announced by the staff by calling out the assigned number. (so not to embarass the female) Male participants will be asked to exit first, and to wait for the female partners to escort them to the exit. If you did not find your match, the agency has “after follow up service” where you can find a way to contact participants of your interst…

    Happy successfully matched couples

    Happy successfully matched couples


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Past articles

What is Tokyo Meet Market?

From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

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