Japanese Wedding Vernacular: Konkatsu
I feel that the last two wedding vernacular posts have been closer to the dark side (or rather end of) marriage, so it’s time to bring it back to happy land. Well, almost. This week’s vocab looks at a phenomenon that although initially was similar in different cultures across the globe, Japan has, of course, added its own twist to it:
Direct translation: shortened form of kekkon katsudou, or “marriage activity”
A translation that makes sense: Marriage hunting, searching for a marriage partner, looking to date with sights upon eventual marriage
Details: The shortened form konkatsu is a spin-off from the term 就活 (shuukatsu), which is short for 就職活動 (shuushoku katsudou), i.e., job hunting.
Many cultures have had, or still have, some form of arranged marriage custom. Whether it’s as little as families ensuring partners have a chance to meet and then leave it up to them to decide what they think of each other, or going all out and organizing every last detail from meeting to marriage, they all have common ground: finding someone suitable to marry. This custom, while mostly out of fashion in Japan (at least in terms of the parents doing the choosing), has customarily been called お見合い (omiai = formal marriage interview), and the marriage that results in it, お見合い結婚 (omiai kekkon).
The word omiai is a little bit old fashioned and isn’t used much anymoreーalso, it usually involves being introduced to one partner at a time via a match maker. Although it’s still a popular form of konkatsu, it’s got nothing on what’s been trending lately. No one has time to just meet one potential partner at a time these days, so the savvy, modern marriage hunter has a whole array of options to find a lifelong mate:
Of course, there are singles’ parties just like everywhere else in the world, as well as speed dating, but these are pretty boring, so let’s cut to the chase and talk about all the fun konkatsu services they have in Japan:
- One day bus tours: winery tours, hiking in the mountains, aquarium visitsーname a destination and they have a konkatsu bus tour for it! One of the most popular tours is a visit to a shrine or twoーusually places that are famous for love, or bringing people together.
- Pet parties: parties at dog, cat or rabbit cafes for animal lovers.
- Barbeque events: Pretty self-evident…who doesn’t love a good BBQ?
- 大人婚活 (Otona konkatsu): (“Adult/Grown up” Marriage Hunting)ーnot as sketchy as you may think, it’s specifically aimed at those aged 40 and above.
- 体験 (taiken = try it out) parties: making candles, throwing pottery, grape and other fruit picking, etc.
- Time slip parties: Participants dress up in kimono or yukata and dine/relax in an old-style Japanese house for the evening.
- Themed food parties: Italian, Frenchーwhatever style of food you like, you can be sure it’ll be served at this event.
Basically, if you have an interest or specification, most konkatsu party organizers will have some sort of event catered towards itーmaking it that much easier to find a partner suited for you.
For these tours and parties, there’s a general pattern that’s followed:
Guests arrive, register and fill out a short profile paper with their interests on it. Everyone partakes in some form of group-oriented activity to get to know the other participants. Then they get some free time to mingle with people who have caught their interest. After that, participants write on special cards indicating who they’re most interested in out of the people they’ve mingled with. Those with “matching” cards can either pair off freely and exchange contact details, or the organizers provide the matching couples with each others’ contact details so they can get in touch later. (The latter case seems to be more common for larger events, as there may be several matches with the same people at one particular event. Finally, people are free to figure out if their attraction remains once they go on a “real” date at a later time. If not… Rinse and repeat!
I know some people are adverse to the organized format, but I kind of like the idea of people with similar interests gathering together. Some friends of mine who either attend events on occasion, or even found their partner that way summarized why they chose to attend konkatsu parties in the first place:
- It’s really hard to meet people, especially in Tokyo. Many people work late hoursーeven weekends, so it’s hard to meet “naturally”.
- Konkatsu party organizers can alleviate awkward situations: smoothly guide someone who is being overly aggressive away, or help introduce someone who feels too shy to walk up to their object of interest alone. In short, organizers are mercenary wingmen with party organizing skills!
- Parties really vary in sie, depending on what you’re comfortable with: ranging from from 20 attendees to 200!
- *Most* of the men are interested in dating someone seriously, not just out for a one-night stand.
- You can meet new people (both male and female) and become friends through your similar interest.
- It’s fun!
And that summarizes konkatsu parties and activities for this time! One of my friends said she would be happy to share her tips for succeeding at konkatsu parties (she’s married with a baby, so I guess she counts as a success story. 😉 ) if anyone is interested. If you are, let me know in the comments! ^^
Previous Japanese Wedding Vernacular posts: