Masked Speed Dating Hopes to Save Shy Japanese Singles

A Tokyo-based dating service is trying to make it easier for shy Japanese singles to interact with the opposite sex by organizing masked speed dating effects where participants wear surgical masks to help them be more outgoing.

Surgical masks have been a big part of Japanese culture for many years. Some people wear them on the street everyday, be it to avoid catching diseases, to prevent hay fever and other allergic reactions, or simply to keep their faces warm. But the people at Def Anniversary, a popular dating service in Tokyo, have come up with a new use for the humble accessory – they’ve turned into a tool for konkatsu (marriage hunting). At their speed dating events, singles meet at various locations all over Japan, and spend a limited amount of time trying to learn as much about them as they can, but the catch is that everyone has to wear a surgical mask, so the focus is less on physical appearance and more on personality and character.

“In order to achieve marriage, it is important to provide chances to know a partner’s personality and values in the early stages,” said Kei Matsumura, head of Tokyo dating service Def Anniversary. “We chose surgical masks as an essential tool for that.”


But the masks also have the added bonus of making shy singles more comfortable when interacting with the opposite sex. Japanese youths brought up in the digital apparently find face-to-face interaction daunting, but after taking physical appearance out of the equation, they tend to be more outgoing.

“Since I wasn’t judged by my appearance, I think I was able to be more outgoing with women,” 28-year-old Yasumasu Kishi told Reuters.


“I think I was able to find out more about their inner selves and not just judge them by their looks,” Chiharu Tsukahara, a 28-year-old office worker, added. “In this event, personality matters. I quite liked that.”

But singles’ shyness is only part of the problem that has led to the dramatic aging of Japan’s population and a serious decrease in the marriage rate – from 10.1 per thousand in 1975 to 5.1 per thousand in 2014. Other causes include long work hours that don’t leave much time for romancing and the famous Japanese ultra-politness.

via Japan Trends

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