One recent Sunday, a Shinto-style “gokon" (group dating) party was held at Sakura Jingu in Setagaya, Tokyo. Says Mayumi Mizuno of party planner Rush Ltd: “We organize 'konkatsu' (activities for finding a suitable marriage partner) events at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines – places that have spiritual power. Our wish is for individuals to enjoy new encounters with a pure heart on grounds considered sacred.”
On this day, nine men and 10 women in their 20s, 30s and 40s participated in the event. After self-introductions in front of the shrine altar, all were "purified" according to Shinto rites and the group proceeded to a wine party in the shrine office.
Shinto shrine, "gokon" and wine? Sounds like an odd combination, but the proposal came from Sakura Jingu. Grand Priest Masanori Yoshimura comments, “Matchmaking parties are common but many find it difficult to communicate with complete strangers. A common interest would help the process of 'en-musubi' (romantic bonds).” I happen to be a wine lover, and thought a wine party would be a good idea.”
The event began in silence, but the wine relaxed the participants and in no time they were talking about hobbies as they switched seats to converse with each other. The party ended after two hours.
One 35-year-old woman said, “I was a bit worried at first … but decided it was safe enough to go. I was impressed by the grand priest’s knowledge about wine. I had fun.”
A male participant in his mid 30s had been looking forward to the purification ritual, and felt sure his luck was going to improve.
While the participants’ feedback on the party was positive, no one seemed to have found a potential partner from the shrine “gokon” this time. According to Mizuno, matchmaking opportunities can be provided, but finding true romance is ultimately up to the individual’s effort.© Japan Today