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:

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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-evidentwho 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:

Dekichatta Kekkon

Narita Rikon

Jukunen Rikon

26 responses to “Japanese Wedding Vernacular: Konkatsu”

  1. マイケルナコ says:

    Do you know some application for free that everybody’s looking for their life partner? Please let me know. Again, thank you for helping us.

  2. マイケルナコ says:

    If you know someone who’s looking for a life partner in Hamamatsu please let me know. If it’s ok only. Thank you again.

  3. マイケルナコ says:

    Thank you for your reply. So maybe the key is the international bar over there. Hoping to meet my life partner in Hamamatsu. Thank you very much.

  4. マイケルナコ says:

    I’m going to transfer in Hamamatsu shizuoka by January. They also have a speed dating in shizuoka Hamamatsu? Please let me know. I really really want to meet my life partner soon. Thank you very much.

    • Ri says:

      Hi there! I’m so sorry for the late reply–have had internet issues while I’ve been away on holidays. I’ve asked some people who used to live in the area, and they said they didn’t know of anything. (They last lived there 1-2 years ago) They can recommend the local international bars if you’re looking to meet a wider group of people though. 🙂

  5. マイケル says:

    I’m going to transfer in Hamamatsu shizuoka by next year of January. They also have a speed dating in shizuoka Hamamatsu? Please let me know. Thank you.

  6. マイケル ナコ says:

    I’m really have interest with this. Since I really want to marry now. Will you please tell me the information that I need to know? I’m living here in Tokyo. Hoping to find my lifetime partner.

    • I can recommend a couple of the companies that my friends have used and liked. 🙂

      One of my friends really likes the day trip options and recommended this one:

      For a list of different parties from different companies you can find them here:

      http://sett.jp/ (They list upcoming parties and ranking of companies too)

      And this is a weird one, I followed up with another friend, and even though she lives in Tokyo, she often went to Osaka for konkatsu!! She’s from Saitama, but she said that the men (even if they weren’t from Kansai) seemed nicer and more interesting than in Tokyo. So maybe you could try in Osaka too?? Extra bonus poinst from the offset! She used White Key when she went: http://whitekey.co.jp/

      And then Party Party is the biggest/most famous https://www.partyparty.jp/
      But one friend said that there are a lot of konkatsu veteransーmaybe they’re not seriously looking for a partner, just for fun. I guess it depends on the event.

      Good luck!

      And I’ll follow up with the “Konkatsu advice” as wellーI’ll just ask some more friends to make sure I cover all bases. 🙂 Thank you for your comment, I’m glad it was helpful! ^^

      • マイケル ナコ says:

        Thank you for the link. But the problem is I can’t read the details because it’s written in japanese. If possible would you please give me an information in English regarding to that links. I’m really interested with that. Thank you.

  7. That actually sounds really interesting. I would have loved to do something like that (as an experience) – same with gokon parties and all those other “single people” activities.

    But getting married young means I just have to rely on the juicy stories from friends to learn more 🙂

    • Yeah, same. Even when I was single I didn’t really try out any of this, though looking at it now, it would have been fun to give it a go, just for the sake of experience. ^^
      Good thing there are lots of similar activities aimed at couples in Japan, too. ^^ (I especially appreciate the couple discounts at ryokan you can sometimes find!)

  8. Hilary says:

    It’s me! It’s me! Maybe I’m turning over a new boulder. How interesting! I love that you’re doing languagey stuff. I’m going to read more of these and quiz hubby. Tee hee hee! Not sure what shows up signing in as a guest so… it’s Hilary from japancanmix.com !

    • Woo! Weirdly enough on the website backend it shows your Gravatar pic, but here you’re a gray headshot. XD
      Thank you, first of all, for trying out Disqus to make a comment! Yay! 😀
      I love learning about language/cultural quirks so I’m happy to know I’m not the only one reading them hehe. XD Got some good ones coming up, once I make the time!

      • Gray Faceless Hilary says:

        Great! It’s weird, eh? I followed you but haven’t got notifications so I signed up again. And I can’t figure out how to follow comments. Darn disqus. ;D He he he! I’m glad I tried it. It hasn’t been toooooo horrible. But… I did get sick around the same time…
        Anyway, I do want to read your other languagey posts. I’m going to assume they are all fabulous like this one and say I love the intersection of words, explanation, commentary and culture. Arigatouuuuu! (just like SMAP! )

        • Yeah, Disqus isn’t perfect, but I much prefer it over the “facebook login” that some sites. I abhor that. (And sometimes it seems people using their real names and photos doesn’t seem to deter them from making nasty comments anyway… :P)

          Yay! Thank you! <3 Definitely helps motivate me to do more knowing at least one more person is as curious as I am about this stuff. 😀

  9. I think it is normal for parents to arrange blind dates for their children in Taiwan, especially if the son or daughter is 30 or older. My husband and I had once dined at a restaurant where one of these dates was happening and it was so weird, even I felt uncomfortable just watching from the sidelines. The couple sat at one table and two older women (their mothers?) kept telling them to talk which made the couple feel even more uncomfortable and talk even less.

  10. Wowwwwwww, that’s so invasive! Salary and everything else in public!? Wow. I can’t even imagine. There was certainly a stronger custom of parents being involved in their children’s potential partners (sneakily organizing meetups on the sly), but it would never be so public. (And there would almost always be a photo, like the ones you used to take at school, haha!)
    Marriage hunting ambush! ^^; (Actually, I have a friend whose mother ambushed her with a blind date… when she was already married! Her mother didn’t approve of her partner at all and kept trying to set her up with other people. Awkward…)

    • Marta says:

      Chinese parents don’t have the concept of being invasive when it involves their children hahaha.
      And of course, salary is a very important factor in a man, haha. Chinese women are very practical.

      • Practical can be good! 😀
        I’m glad my parents have let me be independentーI’ve not always done what they wished (I think they want me closer to “home”), but they also understand we all have different paths. Also, they’d kind of be hypocrites. 😉

  11. Marta says:

    In Shanghai there is a “singles market”. Imagine you are a single Chinese man or woman: your parents would write your age, sex, height, education level, salary and other personal information on a sheet of paper, hang it in a park where other parents have done the same already, and wait for interested parties/read other adverts and look for interesting candidates. So for example if your parents saw an advert of a guy who seemed appropriate, they would speak to his parents and arrange a date for the two of you, who don’t have the slightest idea of what is happening and maybe are not even interested in dating!

  12. Pui Ki says:

    This is very interesting. I knew what konkatsu is but never expected there are so many different kinds of “parties” catered for this market. Makes me interested in going to some myself! Sounds fun even if you don’t meet anyone. I wonder how much it costs to go to these parties?

    • Yeah, while I was reading up on it I was thinking the same thing! Too late for me to go now… If you do ever attend, let me know how it was. 😉
      It depends on what kind of event it is, but generally ranges from about 4,000-20,000 for women and almost double that for me! Women definitely get a “discount”. 😉

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