Last Saturday, after our Soroban class in the Kyoto International House, our little group came across a flyer that was displayed there, and which caused  quite some hilarity… It said, with a pretty heart on top:

Marriage Matchmaking in kokoka

Come and meet lots omiai flyerof people from diferent cultures at our fun and casual matchmaking at kokoka. We’re hosting this event for singles, Japanese and foreign alike, as an opportunity to meet in an exchange of language, culture, and friendship. We encourage you to leave your worries behind and open the door to a new future.

It is scheduled for the beginning of March, and in the best case there will be 100 people, half women, half men, all between 30 and 50 years old. Foreigners can live all over Japan, but the Japanese must be based in Kyoto. In four hours there will be a workshop (how to conduct a good marriage?), a quiz (what are you looking for in a partner for life?), games (grab our favourite now?), and a party – and you can be sure that everything will be finished on time. Although there are 15 companies sponsoring the event, you still have to pay 3000 YEN for admittance, but you’ll get snacks and drinks – it’s a party, remember.

What we found so funny about it was that it was so clearly targeting foreigners. Among Japanese, these kinds of meetings are quite common, especially in the age bracket mentioned. As a Japanese woman you are expected to be married by the age of 25, as a man you have five years more time. If they did not succeed in securing a husband or wife by that time, many people resort to matchmaking like the above.

These meetings are called O-miai, literally see-meeting. Omiai are strictly conducted for the purpose of finding a partner to marry, and their history dates back to the 16th century. There are many rules, and often the whole family on both parts is involved, and an additional go-between.

Anyway, I may write a more detailed post about this at a later stage, maybe after first hand experience? While I have to admit that I was intrigued, I will not attend the party – the application deadline had already passed by the time I made up my mind…