Speed Dating with Surgical Masks

In 1998, an Orthodox Rabbi and his wife invented a new form of dating technology for young Jewish singles to meet and find a partner. Dubbed speed dating, Rabbi Yaacov Deyo was well beyond his time, as this formalized matchmaking process is still in use today. A Japanese dating service has recently adopted the model with a tiny twist; the participants wear surgical masks during the three-minute dating sessions, focusing on one’s personality rather than looks.

The facemasks, more often worn to avoid catching disease, proved a big success among the participants, who found they were more ‘outgoing’ with them on. “Since I wasn’t judged by my appearance, I think I was able to be more outgoing with women,” said 28-year-old Yasumasu Kishi. Dating services are hot topic in Japan, as Japanese millennials raised in the digital society dread face-to-face encounters, while simultaneously long working hours have effect on the Japanese remaining unmarried. Therefore konkatsu, –active “marriage seeking activity”– is considered a virtuous option.

According to a national survey conducted by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2014, the marriage rate has plunged by 50 percent over the last 40 years, from 10,1 per thousand in 1975 to 5,1 per thousand in 2014. Since 2009, similar events take place for otako –which roughly translates to geeks. During the marriage hunt sessions, participants wear masks that depict popular characters from anime or manga, turning it to a kind of masked ball for geeks.

Source: Reuters

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