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Outdoor dating becomes popular amid pandemic

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Coronavirus has changed everything. It’s changed dating too – naturally.

“Dating in a Pandemic” is Spa!’s headline (Oct 13). It sounds almost like fun. It is. Dating services, marriage agencies and the like have traditionally brought people together in restaurants, bars, karaoke places. What’s the alternative? The great outdoors. Hiking. Camping. Mountain-climbing. It’s healthy, invigorating – a fitting response to the challenge of disease.

A sunny July day saw 14 men and women, strangers to begin with and hoping not to be for long, set out on a walk through Tokyo. Their ages ranged from the 30s to the 50s. All were single. Encouraging them in their hopes for marriage was their guide and leader, “Madam Ikuko,” of the World Marriage Club agency.

Whether the outing resulted in any lasting relationships we do not know, but a good time seems to have been had by all. A woman in her 30s who participated tells Spa!, “Since April all marriage activity has been online. It was great to have a party in the ‘real’ world!”

“All of us enjoy city walking,” adds a  man in his 40s, “so we have that in common, and conversation flowed more easily than it usually does at marriage parties.”

Marriage agencies have taken a hard hit this year. Pandemics are not kind to them. Spa! mentions a leading one whose profits are down almost 90 percent from last year. Many others have gone bankrupt. Just who it was who first got the flash of insight pointing to outdoor dating as the answer is not recorded. It only had to happen once before everyone was saying, “Why didn’t I think of it!” In no time at all, agencies had their clients climbing mountains, camping in the wilderness, enjoying outdoor barbecues, walking from temple to temple and so on.

There are three keys to events like these, explains Kunio Kiyohara of the Mariru Party agency. He calls them “the 3 ‘ings’ – feeling, happening, timing.” Imagine a party of people, disposed from the outset to be friendly, anxious about the pandemic, restless from months of “self-restraint,” “self-isolation” and all the various measures enforced and recommended against infection – suddenly out in the fresh air, active, eager to talk, eager to listen, open to whatever happens, recalling that there’s more to life than coronavirus. The “3 ings” are there, all right. You just have to tap them. And as for conversation, there’s so much to talk about this wild and improbable year!

“Suddenly,” says a man in his 30s, recalling a mountain-climbing outing, “there was an evening shower. We took shelter in a soba restaurant. It’s sort of like being on a suspension bridge – the bridge sways, nudging you against the person next to you. I and the woman sitting next to me were soon a couple, and it was the same with others.”

Being out in the country, of course, gives you the chance to accompany your new companion back to town. “Love was born in me on the way home,” says a woman in her 40s of the aftermath to a mountain-climbing expedition.                                                                                                                 

These are summer stories. Fall is here, winter is coming. No doubt they have their own hidden potential. We’ll soon see.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

4 Comments
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My Mom told me horror stories about the 1918-1920 pandemic, and although she was too young to date, others were not.

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If another pandemic of this scale happens years, decades or a century from now, they will look back at how people still found ways to live normally. As what was said in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. I'm willing to bet that there were people during the 1918 pandemic who were stilling living it up even as people around them got sick.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If another pandemic of this scale happens years, decades or a century from now, they will look back at how people still found ways to live normally. As what was said in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. I'm willing to bet that there were people during the 1918 pandemic who were stilling living it up even as people around them got sick.

There are immature and irresponsible individuals in every epoch. That doesn't justify being immature and irresponsible. The current situation calls for the exercise of adult restraint until the pandemic is controlled.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The urge to mate is something that seems to be impossible to resist, at least in the long run. We know the dangers of not social distancing, but the lizard part of our brains may insist that we interact with potential sexual partners regardless. In the best circumstances, people who want to meet each other would get tested beforehand and ask for social isolation for about 14 days prior to meeting, but even then there is no 100% guarantee of safety. There never is, even without a pandemic.

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