Welcome to Tokyo Meet Market

How to enter TMM

In the US, it is hard not to meet someone even in the normal routine life.

Your next potential lover could be anywhere…

You may meet him on the way out to taking your garbage, in the bus to the station, in the train to work, in the deli picking up bagel for breakfast, during the coffee break in starbucks, in a pharmacy checking out the recent people magazine, during the happy hour in a local bar, on the treadmile in the gym,…. I mean ANYWHERE, ANYHOW…

Here in Japan, you do not just meet people anywhere, anyhow…

Mostly because Japanese people generally are shy, wary and distrustful of strangers.

Oh wait, I may be lying. There are people who do approach to strangers to “hunt” them, it’s called “nanpa,” and this is one way to meet him. But the “Normal”, good Japanese people of the “self-disciplined hard group” would only approach the opposite sex through some kind of referral from the common acquintances, in an organized setting.

So below are the 6 ways to meet new people that I have identified, through primary and secondary researches. The key here is that this is about meeting *new* people, so it doesn’t include the colleagues, friends, or ex-boyfriends.

Way to meet him #1: Nanpa (girl hunting)c280c36be902e1de595eda14a659ef32

Nanpa tends to occur on busy streets and other lively public places. Young men stand at the edge of the street and watch passing women. When a woman strikes a man’s fancy, he typically invites her to a cafe or karaoke bar. The evening may finish with a visit to a love hotel, or at least the promise for a second rendezvous. Although it is rare in practice, nanpa is socially acceptable in Japan, and tolerated as a natural youthful indiscretion.

The word “nampa” was used in the Meiji period to refer to young men who spent too much time around women. Literally meaning “soft group” as opposed to the more self-disciplined hard group, it carried a derogatory nuance which survives today. Since then, nampa has come to replace the loan phrase “garu hanto” to refer to skirt chasing.

Please read about my nanpa experience here: Day 54: Nanpa experience in a bar

Way to meet him #2: Gokon (group blind date)


Gokon is essentially a group blind date where two friends of the opposite gender decide on a date and a place, as well

as the number of people in each team. Then they both invite a few friends of their gender, balancing the numbers in each team. On the selected date, everyone meets at the selected restaurant and the date begins! Everyone introduces themselves shyly, and then they drink, eat, drink some more, then it gets more casual and friendly, somehow making friends in the process. After that, if all went well, the party continues at a bar or karaoke. Everyone drinks even more, and phone numbers are exchanged and may be… a few of them have met the potential future partner.

Recently, gokon culture has evolved further and the group may engage in activity more than just a dinner. They may go to a ski, camping, onsen (hot spring) trip, sometimes even for a weekend trip.

Please read all about gokon here: Gogo Gokon

Way to meet him #3: Institutionally organized gokon

Sometimes, gokon is arranged by agencies. For a fee, a group of guys can spend an evening with a group of single nurses or air stewardesses. Equally, a group of single girls, especially those whose parents have low patience and high standards, might pay to be introduced to a group of well-paid doctors, pilots, or company executives. It’s not much different from the normal gokon organized by your friend. The only difference is in this type of gokon, you are really paying to meet strangers, not friends of your friend.

Way to meet him #4: Match making partyme5party02

Some organization, a company or local government offices, conduct match making party where a large number of single individuals gather for the sole purpose of finding a partner. A little more serious than a casual atmosphere in gokon, the attendants exchange their contact information, the business card, as they meet the new candidates and politely converse with as many candidates as one can meet, to find the appropriate match.

The Japanese government even sees these parties as a possible solution to Japan’s shrinking population, and state sponsored miai parties take place every weekend all over the country.

The process of such event is described more in detail: What is konkatsu party?

Way to meet him #5: marriage consultation agencies

Just like any match making agencies in other countries, the Japanese commercial marriage agencies matches eligible bachelors to eligible bachelorette.

They seem to offer 3 services:
1) Advertise your profile on web magazines and membership monthly magazines, so the interested members can directly contact you
2) Systematically match the profile of the members and send the members 2-8 profiles of the best match every month
3) Host a match making party and weekend trips for the members to attend

Way to meet him #6: online dating

Since the emergence of the internet, mate-finding and courtship have seen changes due to online dating services and mobile dating services. Japanese singles have been using Telecommunications and computer technologies – mobile phones – and web-based systems to find prospective partners. The internet gives you access to hundreds if not thousands of online personals all in the comfort of your house, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week! The convinience of the online dating for busy professionals, coupled with the comfort of the anonymity of the Internet allow Japanese singles to search around and approach the opposite sex with comfort.

There you have it!

The 6 ways to meet potential future partner generally practiced in Japan.

3 Responses to "How to enter TMM"

so interesting! I want to enter Tokyo Meet Market too! great blog! thanks for letting me take a peek!

Hi Cherie,

I just started reading your blog and see that you’ve already had some experiences with nanpa, so maybe your outlook has changed. I just wanted to point out something some of us call a “self-limiting belief.” You write:

“Here in Japan, you do not just meet people anywhere, anyhow…

Mostly because Japanese people generally are shy, wary and distrustful of strangers.

Oh wait, I may be lying. There are people who do approach to strangers to “hunt” them, it’s called “nanpa,” and this is one way to meet him. But the “Normal”, good Japanese people of the “self-disciplined hard group” would only approach the opposite sex through some kind of referral from the common acquintances, in an organized setting.”

First, in Japan, you DO just meet people “anywhere, anyhow,” you just have to be open to it. There’s an interesting book by an interesting lady, 蝶々, 小悪魔な女になる方法. It talks about many of the topics of interest in your ethnography, although her perspective is quite different from yours. (For one thing, she is former top Ginza hostess!) She foresakes gokon and tells women that they should go out and look to get met by men because it happens all the time — a nice segue to your gyaku-nan post. And as a guy who goes out and talks to women, I can tell you that it’s true! 🙂 While I suppose 85% or even 90% of men don’t actively “open” women, the remaining 10% to 15% still represent a significant number. And even if you say half of those guys are creepy, the remaining 5% to 7.5% are STILL a very solid number of folks. What you need to do — and I think you’re doing it — is just be an attractive target. Of course, the problem is that the 5% to 7.5% of men who are actively “opening” women in Japan, well… let’s just say you’ve got a lot of competition, so you need to knock our socks off if you want to get to a third or fourth date. 🙂

Incidentally, this caught my attention:

“But the ‘Normal’, good Japanese people of the ‘self-disciplined hard group’ would only approach the opposite sex through some kind of referral from the common acquintances, in an organized setting.”

I hope you realize by now that this is total BS. I’m absolutely “good,” “self-disciplined,” and “hard working” [sic]. I went to “good” schools, I’ve always been a yutosei, and I enjoy success by most measures. I have many diverse interests that I pursue deeply and passionately, I’m well-read, I have an awesome circle of friends (both men and women), and I live my life to the fullest. I am a well-read feminist and I respect women as I try to do everyone else I meet. Being well-read has also led me to understand social dynamics and to become comfortable and confident meeting people in ordinary circumstances. Its just a natural byproduct of being a confident, social person. So, I happen to talk to a lot of women everyday. If I saw you, if neither of us were in a complete rush, and if I found you even moderately attractive, I’d certainly talk to you, too! Every once in a while I find a spectacular woman who fulfills my desideratum, and when I do, we become exclusive. Hopefully one day I’ll find the one who will be my true soul-mate, we’ll get married, and we’ll live happily ever after. 🙂 And, fwiw, I’m not alone. 🙂

So, yes, while nanpa folks have been given a bad name (along with lawyers, politicians, pop stars, basketball stars, liberated women who like men but refuse to commit(!!), and pro golfers!), the truth is more complex, and you shouldn’t prejudge based only on your media-stained image.

BTW, please don’t mind my harsh tone. Like I said, I’ve only just scratched the surface on your blog, but I love it. It’s intelligent, well-written, genuine, funny, interesting, and heart-felt. Very nice job, I can’t wait to discover more. 🙂

I think what she meant by “Japanese men” in this context is local Japanese men, not including the ones who had been abroad…

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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!

Cherie’s tweets

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  • Ate a bowl of toshomen for lunch, super delicious! Check it out: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g314410/ 10 years ago
  • getting warmer in Tokyo! The spring is just around the corner which means... love in the air! 10 years ago
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