A friend of my fiancée’s… “The Epic Shurahama of Matchmaking,” as seen by the female president.
How have blind dates changed over the past decade?
The new coronavirus has triggered a major shift in the way men and women meet, with the old forms of meeting, such as parties with more than 100 people, izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), and blind dates, drastically decreasing and the number of people using apps for the purpose of meeting has been increasing. The number of users of dating apps is increasing. As of 2022, the number of registered users of the leading app “Pairs” totaled 2,000,000 men and women. On the other hand, the amount of effort required to use these apps is increasing. On the other hand, people are returning to the apps feeling “app fatigue” due to the amount of effort required for the apps and wanting a place to meet people in real life. We asked Mr. Eon Tanaka, Chairman of the Japan Gasshon Association, about the latest situation and surprising happenings at gasshon, a representative form of realistic dating.
He said, “It’s also true that the population of people who go to gakon is decreasing; one survey in 2017 showed that only about 10% of college students had ever been to a gakon. I believe that the number is currently declining even further. So there are people who are going to frequent blind dates, but there is a polarization between those who don’t go at all and those who do, both men and women.”
In today’s society, where smartphones are commonplace, it is not only at blind dates, but also in dating and romantic situations, that embarrassing images and sounds are taken and spread on social networking sites. In addition, the prolonged COVID-19 crisis has reduced the number of dinners with multiple people. These factors have made it difficult to organize blind dates, and the number of individual players using matching apps may have increased.
A man who falsely claimed to be engaged to a man who made a fierce attack at a blind date
Here is a tragic episode from a recent information received by Mr. Tanaka, which occurred recently at a blind date party. While it is common to hear stories of people going to blind dates even if they are dating someone, there are some cases where the practice goes too far.
One of the stories is about a surprisingly real-life experience of a blind date party by a woman in her thirties who works in the Tokyo area. At a blind date with a man in his 30s from a major advertising agency, a beautiful receptionist-like girl named A was hitting on him hard from the beginning of the party. He was so passionate that he even said, ‘I want to marry you’ at the first meeting. He was not handsome in appearance, but he was so passionate in his advances that even Ako’s feelings seemed to waver a bit. However, the man had an unusual surname and an easy-to-remember name, so Ako said she somehow remembered having heard of him before.
She was feeling a little bewildered when she proceeded to the after-party, and then she had a sudden realization.
“I was surprised to find out that this man was the fiance of my girl friend B’s fiance. The man had been hitting on Ako under the false pretense of being engaged. He asked her, ‘You’re engaged, aren’t you? When I confronted him about it, his attitude changed drastically, and he looked pale and began to make excuses. He looked pale and started to make excuses, saying, “I just wanted to be friends with you…” He was lying, you son of a bitch! I was so embarrassed that I didn’t even know what to say to her. In the end, she found out about it, but we didn’t break up and got married.
Ms. Tanaka’s analysis of the female psyche suggests that for B-ko, it was probably her inability to call off her marriage to her boyfriend, to whom she had even gotten engaged, and the will of the woman that “he would come back to me in the end.
A man who splits the bill without showing the menu or voucher
The harsh economic conditions of today are also spreading to blind dates, as one woman in her early 20s revealed in an episode.
A woman in her early 20s revealed an episode: “A man I met at an inter-industrial party who worked for a manufacturer asked me if I wanted to go to a blind date with him for a four-on-four party. He asked me to bring a cute girl. She gathered her recommended female friends of the same generation, in their 20s, with model-like looks, with a lot of enthusiasm. I saw on the Internet that it was a restaurant in Azabu-Juban with a nice atmosphere that specializes in meat dishes and wine, and the price per customer is about 5,000 yen per person. It was an upscale restaurant that I would not go to with my female friends of the same generation.
When the party started, the men ordered meat and red wine by the bottle without showing the menu to the women. They were proudly talking about their jobs, and in a boastful manner, they said, “Let’s go out and have a drink,” and the place became a lively one. They were very excited. They were pretending to be interested in me, and I was even flirting with them in seduction mode.
But when it came time to pay the bill, a shocking turn of events awaited them.
The male organizer looked at the bill and said, ‘If this is the amount, I guess the women’s bill is 5,000 yen,’ as if it was natural for them to split the bill. I almost cried because the female organizer had lost all face. Nowadays, it is not the norm for men to treat their guests to a party, so they should have told us in advance. If they were going to split the bill, they should have shown us the menu and not bang out orders for expensive meat or bottles of wine. They behaved in feast mode and seemed proud…. I wanted to get rid of these men as soon as possible, so I paid the 5,000 yen and left quickly.
According to Tanaka, it is a common behavior pattern for men with little experience in relationships to become reluctant to pay when they realize that the cost was higher than expected and ask for a split tab. Even worse, it is not uncommon for men to ask for a receipt and expense account even though they split the bill. Money is the biggest cause of trouble at a Gasshokon.
Women who choose major trading companies tend to run into their ex-boyfriends
Women who are brand-conscious tend to show this tendency at blind dates as well. Here is an episode from a woman in her early twenties who is in the midst of a highly praised marriage activity in Tokyo.
She is putting her life on the line to marry a man who works for a major trading company (and only for one company at that).
She is a model with a flashy look, good style, and in her mid-twenties, so she has no complaints about her specs.
She was always saying, ‘I’m going to marry the guy from the trading company. I would ask all my friends who often hosted blind dates to arrange a blind date with a guy who worked for that trading company. I actually met someone who worked for that company and even developed a relationship with him (and later broke up with him on several occasions). Still, I continue to go to blind dates with trading company employees from that company without learning my lesson, so it’s not uncommon for me to run into my ex-boyfriend who I’ve broken up with and things get super nasty. There is still room for forgiveness if it’s an ex-boyfriend, but there have been times when she found out that she went to a blind date party with a boyfriend who works for that company and ran into his boss, and it turned into a shurabai situation.”
Nevertheless, in the end, Ms. C married the trading company employee she had set her sights on. Ms. Tanaka says that many women, not limited to trading companies, try hard to find boyfriends at their target companies. Some women are so serious that they even plan to get a boyfriend by working as a temporary worker for the company they are looking for.
Can COVID-19 crisis “coexist” with a blind date party?
Recently, I’ve been hearing that ‘young people don’t go to blind dates and have never been to one. This is a point we are also keeping a close eye on, as this is the generation that will be responsible for the future of the matchmaking scene. Young people today are familiar with smartphones and SNS, and they have access to all kinds of information. Rather than pursuing the opposite sex out of desire when it comes to romance, they probably know that they will find a wonderful partner if they first find the best job and work style for themselves and build up their economic power,” says Tanaka.
Before going to a blind date or getting a girlfriend, they seem to be prioritizing “first of all, becoming a person who can earn money” by studying business and investment, getting a side job, and setting up their own business.
Many of them spend more time on their hobbies than on romance, and the ratio of effort spent on partying and romance seems to be decreasing as they prioritize their own quality of life. On the other hand, an increasing number of women are concerned about their future due to the corona and are quickly getting married at a young age.
Coexistence with coronas is likely to remain an important theme in the future.
I would like to contribute to the development of the matchmaking culture by responding to the increase in the number of people infected with coronas when the wave subsides or when the situation changes.
In fact, the history of gakkon is a uniquely Japanese culture that dates back to the Meiji era. I myself decided to establish the association based on my experience of hosting and participating in 2,000 Gasshon parties, and have been doing so for the past 10 years. As an educational activity, I would like to increase the number of “Gokon Master” throughout Japan, a qualification to acquire the knowledge and know-how to host a Gokon, and to hold Gokon events for young people, since many students and young people in their early 20s have not experienced Gokon.
◆Enon Tanaka: Chairman of the Japan Gokon Association
After being involved in more than 2,000 party events, she founded the Japan Gokon Association in 2012 and became its chairman. In 2012, she founded and became the chairman of the Japan Gekon Association. He is also involved in producing events and products, and offering certification courses. He is also active as a relationship advisor with expertise in dating and gender issues. She is the author of six books. In her private life, she is a mother of one child. She is a great sake lover and is certified as a sake taster.
Japan Matching Party Association
Interview and text： Ryota Katayose