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Posts Tagged ‘Miai

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.

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Miai, (literally “looking at each other”) or is a Japanese custom whereby unattached individuals are introduced to each other to consider the possibility of marriage.

The practice of miai emerged in 16th century among the Samurai class to form and protect strong military alliances among warlords to ensure mutual support. Later, during the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868) the practice of Miai spread to other urban classes trying to emulate Samurai customs. After the Pacific War, the trend was to abandon this restrictive arranged-marriage system, in favor of more Western ideals of love marriages. Currently, only 10-30% of marriages in Japan are arranged and love marriages are the social norm.

However, parents and children of bourgeois family deeply wish to maintain the social standard and life style of Japanese bourgeois family by finding an appropriate partner with the same or higher social status.  Ideally, the couple and their families should be of equal social status. Therefore, though love marriages are considered ideal in the society, the main concept of miai, to be introduced to an eligible single man/woman and to objectively select the initial criteria with marriage in mind, are still favored and practiced casually by majority of the young people.

The criteria used in the match making practice have not changed greatly.
The candidates and their families are judged on a large set of criteria aimed at determining the suitability and the balance of the marriage. This criteria is formally known in Japan as iegara (family background) which  include:

  • level of education, particularly the name brand of the university attended
  • level of income
  • occupation and status
  • physical attractiveness
  • social standing
  • hobbies
  • bloodline (family disease history)

Many Japanese women look for three attributes: height, high salary, and high education, commonly known as “The Three H” syndrome. What about the fourth H attribute, for great H!? (H in Japanese means sex)

These criteria of a good partner are so ingrained in everyone’s mind … that you would hear this kind of conversation all the time….

Girl 1: “Why do you look so happy?”
Girl 2: “I met someone and I’m so happy, I think we are in love”
Girl 1: “Oh, what does he do? What’s the name of the company he works for?”

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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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