We’re mid-cuffing season now, and people seem to be pairing up left, right and center, even in Japan. Living in Japan can be lonely at times, there are language and culture barriers to contend with, and if you’re not the casual dating sort, then clubs or casual dating apps aren’t for you.
What Is Omiai?
Omiai (お見合い) is something akin to the Western match-making practice. Originally limited to the upper classes and meant to align clans via shared bloodlines, modern-day omiai services are typically approached by the person looking to marry. They are not an arranged marriage per se, but a personally catered selection of suitable partners that said person can meet, get to know and then decide to date/marry.
According to a 2022 study conducted by Recruit Co. Ltd (the parent group of the marriage magazine Zexy), the percentage of people who got married as a result of using apps in general increased by about eight percent between 2019 and 2021. These results show that it’s not uncommon for people to meet and get married on an app. For some it’s seen as less stressful than meeting a partner themselves, for others it’s a matter of practicality. Others believe that, after dating and not finding what they’re looking for, a match-maker service is the next logical step.
My parents met via a matchmaker, so did my mom’s parents and, after breaking up with my ex, I’m considering it too”
(Japanese woman, 35)
If you are looking for a serious relationship where marriage is the goal, then in terms of apps you need to be careful. A true omiai type dating app is rare. The vast majority of omiai services are still conducted in person (or via video chat), as for relationships of this type you need a deeply personal touch rather than an algorithm. Two of the top non-app services are En-Konkatsu Agent and IBJ.
There are also several factors to keep in mind with any match-making service. First, you will need to have excellent Japanese language skills. The vast majority of these services are Japanese only. Next, your age. The majority of apps are used by those in their 20s-30s and older users may have little luck finding a partner this way.
You will also need to be living in Japan (some may require a copy of your Residence card and/or passport), and for some especially strict services, provide proof of your annual income and ability to support yourself in Japan outside of getting married.
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