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COVID spurs dramatic surge of 'konkatsu' among middle-aged people

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When it comes to konkatsu (spouse-hunting)author Kensuke Ishigami knows whereof he writes. Divorced in his 40s, now 59, he has spent the better part of 15 years pursuing remarriage. He’s downloaded matching apps, trolled marriage sites, consulted marriage consultants, attended miai matching parties. His books tell his stories. They are rich in personal experience. Alas, he’s still single. His spirits are high, though. He’s still trying, still writing.

Marriage as an institution faces unprecedented challenges. Single life is now socially acceptable, and many are choosing it. Others would marry, barring financial constraints. Wages are low, costs high – especially the post-marriage costs of setting up a household and educating the kids. Marriage is increasingly considered an unaffordable luxury.

There’s much to be said, pro and con, about single life, but an epidemic like COVID-19 puts it under serious strain, says Spa! (Aug 31 – Sept 7). It notes a dramatic surge of konkatsu among middle-aged people. The tension of potential infection, enforced isolation, loss of jobs and business, with no end in sight after a year and a half, takes its toll – on all of us of course, but on the lonely in particular.

Spa! calls Ishigami “a middle-aged konkatsu addict.” Through various avenues he’s met and dated models, announcers, doctors, Ginza nightclub hostesses, even a yakuza’s former mistress. It’s exciting but fraught. Strange things happen.

Just recently, he says, he connected with a banker. She’s 41, comely, vivacious; they met for dinner, had a good time, arranged a second date. Before it happened he received a message from her via Line: “Damn you, you old creep!” How? Why? What had he done? He’s still shaking his head – and gamely preparing to go back to square one.

Several anecdotes of this kind lace Spa!’s article. Space limits us to one more. Why not a happy one?

Yu Maruyama (a pseudonym), still single as he entered his 40s (he’s 44 now) saw his parents, with whom he lived, preparing for retirement and thought he’d better move on in life. He’s in advertising, earning a respectable 5 million yen a year. Was his age a drawback? He saw it more as an asset – “I didn’t waste my time;” life had seasoned him as it can’t a younger man. Confident enough, he went forth. There was this rebuff and that failure to click – the usual setbacks, and then, at last, a hopeful encounter. The woman, six years younger, shared his interest in rakugo, traditional Japanese comic stories.

That, too, fizzled, and after only two weeks. Now Maruyama began to get discouraged. Previous encounters had aroused little enthusiasm in him. This one had been different, or seemed so, and to see it go up in smoke so quickly gave him pause. Maybe he just wasn’t the marrying kind.

Months passed, konkatsu abandoned. Then one evening – at a baseball game, baseball being his other absorbing interest – a friend said, “Let me introduce you to a friend of my wife’s.”

Maruyama shrugged. He wouldn’t say no, but said yes without much conviction.

This woman was 10 years younger, and cared nothing for either rakugo or baseball. Still, their first date was fun. A second followed. Then the coronavirus surged, the government declared an emergency, and conviviality went on hold. They kept in touch online, and somehow the thing blossomed. In June they were married. They’re doing fine. We join Spa! in wishing them well. There’s just one tender spot, Maruyama says – the age difference. His wife is a tactful woman, however, and has so far refrained from teasing him about his first gray hairs.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

11 Comments
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Referring to Ishigami:

Just recently, he says, he connected with a banker. She’s 41, comely, vivacious; they met for dinner, had a good time, arranged a second date. Before it happened he received a message from her via Line: “Damn you, you old creep!” How? Why? What had he done? He’s still shaking his head – and gamely preparing to go back to square one.

It sounds like this busy 60 year-old might be telling these younger women who are looking for sugar daddies lies to get some loving. He is probably lying to the reporter, too!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

He's afraid of being alone. He's succumbed to loneliness and can't come to grips with the depression that mental affliction causes. Embrace being alone and you don't fall into the despair of his mental problem. Challenge me on that philosophy and I'll be happy to blow you out of the water (not military speaking, but referring to your water on the brain). Totally different subjects, like loneliness and 'aloneness'.

Any takers?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Lots of Japanese women,just make the basics effort ,they could have a man in their lives,by just making an effort,lots of American women go decades,without a man in their lives,because of bad experience in a relationship,most Japanese women can easily find the love of their lives,by making and effort,i am not saying it might be a Japanese man

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Once I tell a lady that we will split the bills 50/50 they disappear like a ghost.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

It is very tough out there for bar code Oyagis and cigarette smoking deep voiced and over perfumed forty year old women.

They need to get hobbies like, bowling, checkers, and the horses. They will meet lots of fun people.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@Reckless Once I tell a lady that we will split the bills 50/50 they disappear like a ghost. Is splitting the bills called a marriage. If the mind set is such why get married? Not getting married means you don't have to split anything! You are better off single. Just as you ask for a split in bills you say she becomes a ghost, but once she doesn't split for your thrills you look for another host.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I just wanted to bring a point in:

Once I tell a lady that we will split the bills 50/50 they disappear like a ghost.

In Japanese culture it is still common for a wife to become a housemaker. So it is not in their interest to pursue a high flying career and hence it is presumed that the lower income woman would be at the same "class" level as a higher income man.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I think that a lot of people responding on here about splitting the bill and the wife being a homemaker only are talking about the older generation. Most younger women in Japan work hard and also pay their own way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why not have both?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For the most part, trying to cure loneliness by marrying a Japanese woman is like trying to cure a hangover by drinking a bottle of whiskey.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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