With Christmas coming, Tokyo is throbbing with lonely hearts. It’s a city with a mission now, to find someone to be with just in time for Christmas.
I am not kidding. There are suddenly lots of parties for singles because Christmas in Japan is for couples, not family. So now all the single people here are trying everything they can to get lucky for the big date on Christmas Eve, to pay an outrageous amount of yen for Christmas dinner, exchange expensive gifts, and stay at an over-priced hotel room for the romantic night.
One Japanese friend told me he used to hide in his darkened dormitory room on Christmas Eve, so that his mates thought he was out on a date. And now he is dreading the day his now teenage daughter has to stay home without a date, feeling ashamed and unloved like he did many years ago.
Traditionally, Japanese have this arranged marriage thing called "omiai", which is one on one, although both sets of parents, matchmakers and possibly other strangers also get to witness the beginning of their first date. But after about half an hour’s introduction of family history, the couple to-be-or-not-to-be is usually left alone to chat away about the weather or hobbies.
Japanese also have group omiai called "gokon", when a man and a woman bring 2 or 3 friends each and have dinner together, without any spectators. But omiai often produces no results. So many people join the dating clubs nowadays and conduct their hunting activity (konkatsu) there. But I heard they could be quite pricy, especially if you want to marry a doctor or lawyer.
But now with less than a month to go, many desperate single men have resorted to "nanpa", picking up girls randomly at pubs or on the street.
Oh well, it all depends on how much effort, time and money you are willing to invest on a romantic evening enjoying Tokyo’s dream-like Christmas illumination with someone you barely feel connected with.
For me, I will probably stay home again this year and watch an old movie alone. Or, on second thought, I could invite some friends over and party till dawn just for a change. And you? Wanna join us?