lifestyle

The ugly truth of 'gokon,' Japan’s group blind dates

43 Comments
By Cara Clegg

Japanese "gokon" (organized group dates) are a mixed bag – sometimes they’re a whole lot of fun, and other times they’re a downright uncomfortable experience. For Japanese women wanting to reduce their risk of having a terrible time, one magazine has put together a list of the top companies to avoid when it comes to lecherous guys at their drinking parties.

What is ‘gokon’?

Gokon are drinking parties where men and women can meet, get drunk, and get to know each other. The name comes from the Japanese words "godo" for "mixed" or "combination" and "konpa" which means an informal group meeting. It’s kind of like a group blind date as the aim is generally to find a potential partner, either just for the night or for the long haul.

This kind of activity is a fixture in Japanese society starting with university, where clubs (sometimes called ‘circles’) will go on gokon together so that guys and girls can mingle. The practice continues in the working world where, with Japan’s rigorous work culture, time to meet potential dates is limited. Typically a single guy and girl who know each other will invite their coworkers as well as friends from other companies so that the end result is that most people at the gokon don’t know each other, and the rest stagger home alone. The men and women sit opposite each other, and once the drink is flowing the conversation gets rowdier, until the end of the night when those who want to pair off do so. Despite the hangovers and regrets of the next morning, for many couples it can be the start of something beautiful!

Hidden dangers: pressure and harassment

However, gokon can sometimes get out of hand, as with the incident this year with a tennis circle at Meiji University where several girls ended up in alcoholic comas on the streets of Shinjuku.

While plenty of these group dates are fun and friendly affairs, where the worst that happens is awkward morning-after LINE conversations reminding each other of terrible karaoke, women do have to look out for themselves. With a bit of alcohol in their system some men can turn gropey and forceful, or when a gokon is arranged by a group of men who all know each other there’s the chance that they’ll work together to pressure the girls into drinking more than they should.

The weekly magazine SPA! asked 300 regular working women aged 22 to 34 about their experiences with gokon, and many of them had had uncomfortable experiences particularly with being forced to drink to excess, being pressured to participate in drinking games, and suffering unwanted sexual advances. Things can get dangerous, as one woman recalled witnessing a man “pretending to look after a completely drunk girl while groping her breasts”, and another certain that she had been slipped something in her drink.

From their survey, the magazine put together this list of the top 5 worst companies or industries for pushy goukon guys. Here they are, along with some quotes from the women interviewed on their experiences of group dates with men from said companies.

  1. Marubeni Corporation (general trading company)

“When I refused to down my drink, they blew up at me.” (24, travel agent)

“It was at a gokon where it was taken as a given that you would go home with them.” (33, finance)

  1. Itochu Corporation (general trading company)

“They’d chosen a dimly lit place and were totally handsy.” (25, apparel)

“The guys conspired together to get us black out drunk, it was scary.” (31, finance)

  1. Doctors

“They got their target girls dead drunk and then harassed them.” (23, SE)

“A guy followed me to the toilets and suddenly kissed me.” (22, dispatch worker)

  1. Goldman Sachs (investment banking)

“Even though he was Japanese, he kept shouting angrily in English, I was scared.” (33, IT)

“They started an ‘Osama' game (type of drinking game with penalties). (24, cabin crew)

  1. NTT East Japan (telecommunications)

“They were all super pushy and the conversation was nothing but dirty jokes.” (33, retail)

“As a group they egged us on to down our drinks, and they were nasty drunks.” (30, finance)

Of course, as the aim is to drink and hit it off with someone, a certain amount of lewd jokes and drinking games are to be expected. However, as we can see from the quotes above, there are times when things are taken too far to the point of making women feel very uncomfortable, or even putting them in danger.

The results were drawn from a sample of just 300 women, so take it with a pinch of salt and don’t let it put you off the idea of gokon altogether. However, do keep the dangers in mind, do everything you can to stay safe, and leave at once if things are going in a direction you’re not happy with. The only sort of thing you should find yourself worrying about is whether anyone filmed that terrible rendition of "Let It Go" (the answer is yes, and it’ll probably be on the work LINE group by tomorrow morning). Source: Nikkan SPA! Images: Nanjjjj

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Genka Bar, where your drinks never cost more than what they’re worth! -- Men Who Disappoint at Gokon (Group Blind Date), Nine Types That Shouldn’t Even Bother Showing up! -- Nerd Oriented Dating Guide on Sale, The Art of Seduction Presented in Manga

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


43 Comments
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Goldman Sachs? Involved in inappropriate and border-line criminal behavior? No way

24 ( +25 / -2 )

This article is strange in that it identifies and targets specific and huge companies and accuses them of sexual and other horrible harassment just based on someone's account of their experience. No woman should ever be harassed. Never ever. But should a huge company be labeled as a lawless gang of harassers just because someone had a bad experience?

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk.

What a ridiculous comment. Many men, if not most, are polite when drunk.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Having worked for PLENTY of 'investment banking' IT departments around Tokyo, I can clearly say with real first hand experience that there are a few 'firms' that made me 'sick' to be a part of.

This story doesn't surprise me in the least bit. What is missed in this article is what happens to guys that try to tell some at these binge drinking groper parties to take it easy when they get out of hand with the ladies. I'm all for having a good time and drinking it up but even when I'm three sheets to the wind, I know which way is up and what I've see is pretty bad.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

f I was a woman I would not go to that kind of party, ever. Those parties look like a magnet for weirdos, lame drunks and guys with limited interpersonal skills.

They are pretty standard in Japan. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-misfit young person these days who hasn't been to one.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@Michal. I am. My friends are. There's three men who are polite when drunk.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If I was a woman I would not go to that kind of party, ever. Those parties look like a magnet for weirdos, lame drunks and guys with limited interpersonal skills.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Let's face it - a large majority of the guys & girls that go to gokons are just socially awkward & outright desperate. 'Desperate' as in desperate to hurry up & get married. The concept itself is flawed in so many ways (I went on one once because, you know, when in Rome... - never again!).

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Of course, as the aim is to drink and hit it off with someone, a certain amount of lewd jokes and drinking games are to be expected.

Really? So in order to "hit it off with someone" in Japan you have to tell dirty jokes and act like a teenager? No wonder no one is getting married and the population is declining.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Rapists in disguise, they will act out what they see as their right. This is percentage of men, by no means all, we can not all be tarred with the same brush, BUT, there are men who will take advantage and take sex from women who do not wish for it. That is assault. Sexual assault. From suggestion, to action to the most terrible. There HAS to be more education because more so than ever No has to mean NO. The law has to accommodate that stance. My friend once called me to go and pick her up, the guy who though he had aright to have intercourse got exactly that, from me. A sore head in the morning for sure. Stop assaulting women.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

When I was younger, that was the way to get the girls. To be able to handle a few drinks and remain courteous and polite.

It still is the way to get the girls. Or at least a girl that you have a reasonable chance of being happy with. Mutual respect is the operative concept here.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The Meiji University story sounds like probably their drinks were spiked.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

this is a dumb article. group dates stupid idea, no wonder Japanese men commit suicide, something wrong with your society when women do not trust the opposite sex, then they come (the women) to Australia, the men here are worse, total fcukcing animals, but who cares, get drunk have a party and go home together and regret the whole god damn experience and do it all again the following weekend. , what is wrong with having a normal date, go out for dinner watch a movie and drive her home, and if you are lucky get a kiss good night and her phone number.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk

When I was younger, that was the way to get the girls. To be able to handle a few drinks and remain courteous and polite.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How about an article for what guys should look out for?

It's not like Japan is filled with blameless princesses who do no wrong...

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Why on Earth didn't the women who weren't having a good time just leave?

And why didn't the girl who had a problem with a guy "suddenly" kissing her not kick him in the nuts?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Does seem strange naming companies. So what are the 5 companies that put on the best 'gokon'?!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You know, I really do not want to meet and try to get to know a new woman for the first time at a drunken party. This just does not seem like a good idea to me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How about an article for what guys should look out for? It's not like Japan is filled with blameless princesses who do no wrong...

And what would such a list entail, exactly? Warnings against women racing against a social or biological clock? Unattractive women? Gold diggers? When the worst-scenario for women meeting the wrong guy at a gocon is rape, any complementary list for men seems petty, if not insulting, wouldn't you say?

I agree with the first poster that it seems awfully strange for an article that goes out of its way to discredit any serious tone it may have had to go ahead and mention by name established companies. Why not just change the article's headline to "These Companies Hire Date Rapists"?

Re: Comments about gocon being so (barbaric / outdated / unique / desperate / et al)...

Please. The gocon is scarcely different from Western men and women meeting in bars and dance clubs and getting hammered until someone decides to go home with someone else, complete with all of the embarrassment, regrets, and dangers mentioned in the article above. I'll see your Japanese Goldman Sachs investment banker and raise you one Sigma Chi frat boy-turned-corporate-a-hole. Using alcohol to get laid has been a human practice since people built their first distillery. But beng a sexist, predatorial asshat while they do it? It's all in the individual. Some people seem to excel at it better than others.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How about an article for what guys should look out for? It's not like Japan is filled with blameless princesses who do no wrong...

Exactly, this article surveyed 300 women acting like men are the root of all evil and people here are jumping to the women's defense. Can it be that all of you men commenting above me have never been done wrong by a woman or experienced bad/inappropriate women?

Yes, groping, date rape, sexual harassment, hazing, etc are terrible things and should not be condoned but there are plenty of women who actually become couples with, get married to and have children with men they first met at gokons.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've been to lot's of gocon night outs. I am really not comfortable on attending those, everytime I am invited i always bail out, I felt like I am an Item on a shopping mall, being checked and compared with other items and later on will find out if I will be bought or not. Gocon is just a pile of S*&^t, everyone is not true, everyone is pretending, it's a "shakou-jirei" night. women are trying hard be act cute and men are all competetive about their "social status" and use this as their selling points. It's crazy that most japanese think that Gocons and omiai are where you will find true love and life long partners.... no wonder why adultery and divorce cases are high in these country.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk.

I always stay respectful and polite when I am drunk. Never touch people inappropriately, etc.

It's not hard. Alcohol doesn't change who you are fundamentally, so if you treat people with respect sober you'll do so when drunk.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk.

One of the first symptoms of being drunk is to lose objective view of oneself and surroundings.

I've been the designated sober driver for nights out with friends, and I can say without reservation that the men I count as friends are polite and courteous to women even when drunk. This effort to paint most men as closet sexual predators simply waiting for alcohol to set them free is absurd. I'm not sure who you guys hang around with, but you might want to consider getting a new group of friends.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No matter how drunk I got I NEVER was disrespectful of any lady. There is a difference between a lady and a drunken angry woman that all of a sudden, when drunk, you become the root of all evil that has badly happen in their lives. Those I do not tolerate and leave from immediately for there is nothing worse than a woman scorned.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Can it be that all of you men commenting above me have never been done wrong by a woman or experienced bad/inappropriate women?

I've never had my drinks spiked, been felt up without consent, openly commented about with other women while I was standing there but as if I wasn't present about how endowed I might be or how proficient I might be in bed with my (physical feature/appendage here). Oh, and I've never been raped.

So, that list you want.... What exactly do you mean by, “Done wrong” that suggests anything even remotely on par with the organized, predatory sexual harassment and date rape that occurs at some gocon?

And I'll ignore your very thinly veiled suggestion that women who attend gocon are asking for the predation and harassment by simply being there, because, hey, when you look at how they dress, they’re practically begging for it, right?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It was preety funny for me. My japanese friends took me into one of these blind dates, we entered a bus at Shin Osaka headed to Nara. Everyone on the bus had bought this program. Once we arrived and were introduced to each other was like any other date. Talked yo each other a litle and ended at a restaurant to have dinner. By the way, I'm gaijin and they wanted to provide me a good time japanese style.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's really better to avoid alcohol on dates - for one you're much less likely to end up married to an alcoholic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I haven't got plugged-in to Gokon so far. As far as I know some acquaintances participatied in such parties. Personally speaking, I think this kind of parties carries a higher risk for women. We need to promote a better understanding of the whys behind holding Gokon. There is the prefecture that holds Gokon intended for public service personnel, like Shizuoka. It's become a sort of social phenomenon. I guess Gokon is related to social background. Anyway that's because that's not how life works.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

KabukiloverSep. 29, 2014 - 12:36AM JST

Yuk. Getting girls drunk so they will go home with you is so primitive and so 1950s. There is only one way you will intimately connect with a girl: She has got to like you. Try conversation, guys. I do not mean dirty jokes (well maybe one will placed naughty joke) but intelligent conversation. I think these group blind dates would work a lot better if they met in coffee shops instead of bars.

"Getting girls drunk" ... These "girls" are not babies and not the innocent "puppies" (all abt 30 yo!). They clearly know what gokon is and why they go to gokons. It's a part of Japanese culture. "Coffee shop" )))))))) These women wanna go to the BAR, izakaya, not to a coffee shop ))))) And they know why )))

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Easy to blame repressive when the actual problem is just you missing a fn spine.

I am not defending the douche bags for their behavior...they good guys a bad reputation. The main point is where people today need to get wasted in order to relax enough to have a conversation.

So many issues unspoken here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This perhaps would be more aptly titled "The ugly world of goukan"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SmithinJapan

twice I ended up with stalkers after me (even though we did nothing during or after the gokon).

exactly!

there are also lot's of crazy women here in Japan too, women are not always the victim. but women can get more symphaty than man, that's the truth. Based on my experience, I was a victim of being falsely accused after a gocon/uchi-age when I was a student by a girl who I didn't even imagine that was a psycho. yes most of men are a-holes, but there are also lots of crazy women out there too. When I was in college here, a lady school mate of mine missed her last train after our get together uchi-age party. She was not that drunk when we left the izakaya and she voluntarily ask if she can stay at my place. On our way home we passed by the combini and bought some canned alcohol drinks and some snacks. We continued drinking at my 1 K apartment she started to act drunk and started talking about relationships and sex.She kept on saying, that "Im already drunk" so I told her to maybe stop drinking and sleep. But she kept on drinking and she even took drink and started drinking it, I went to the toilet and when I came back she is passed out on the floor (wooden floor without carpet, I was a broke student) I tried to wake her up and offered her that she can sleep on my bed and ill sleep on the floor. She is just humming and ignoring me, she looks very uncomfortable so I tried to move her from the floor to my bed, i carried her, and then she woke up and said she wants to go home, I asked her how? but she insisted she wants to go home, she looked very terrified just ignored me goes stright out of my apartment, I was wondering if I have done something wrong? so I followed her out and I was apologizing if I’ve done something wrong, she was really annoyed and mad, I told her don't walk alone and I’ll walk with her and I told her I’ll lend her money to go home by cab, she ended up staying at manga café. The next day she spread a rumor in the whole class that I was trying to make her drunk and forced her to go to my bed! Which I swear to God that I didn’t do! Many women sympathized her and one guy talked to me in the elevator threatening me and asking me to stay away from her. I am not stupid, I know that if I harass her sexually it’s gonna spread out to the whole campus and I don’t want to end up in jail! I was really scared that time, although she didn’t file any complains, then after few months the whole class realized that she is really crazy since she did almost the same thing to another guy in school. But damage was done already and since then I never join “circle/club uchi-age” unless it’s with a group with the people whom I really know and trust well.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"I saw the effects of a 'gokon' yesterday Sitting down on the train floor,3 girls (adults?) singing anime songs in unison-all this at 3pm in the afternoon. Sorta pathetic really........"

Oh I dunno. Those sound like the kind of girls I'd like to meet. They sound like they were having great fun.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If one stays polite and sober as an accountant, what is the point of drinking?

Nothing wrong with getting drunk and having fun. Not sure why doing so would also have to mean sexually harassing women around you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I really hate the concept of "Gokon". I mean almost all the girls who attend there are just finding men who have a BIG salary and try to get married to them so that they could just retire and not work at all. And the men there are just show offs who try to act "cool" in front of the ladies (Getting drunk and doing stupid stuffs are not cool).

Just make time and try to meet someone the natural way. Go out with someone you like/know and let things settle its own. That's why their population is dwindling..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@LFRAgain gets it. Well said.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

LFRAgainSep. 29, 2014 - 11:55PM JST

men I count as friends are polite and courteous to women even when drunk.

If one stays polite and sober as an accountant, what is the point of drinking?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yuk. Getting girls drunk so they will go home with you is so primitive and so 1950s. There is only one way you will intimately connect with a girl: She has got to like you. Try conversation, guys. I do not mean dirty jokes (well maybe one will placed naughty joke) but intelligent conversation. I think these group blind dates would work a lot better if they met in coffee shops instead of bars.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

You're going to run into some bad situations if you don't simply exercise common sense. First and foremost, if on a Gokon make it indeed arranged, with at least one person, a friend, doing the group get together. Granted you'll probably end up with a group less than ideal, but it's far likely safer and with people you can end up trusting if they are friends of friends.

Also, it's not just the women who have to be careful, though the risks and stakes, and incidents, are a lot higher for women, I'm assuming. Everyone needs to be careful about expectations or getting into awkward of just plain bad situations. I've been on various gokons -- way back when -- and twice I ended up with stalkers after me (even though we did nothing during or after the gokon).

Anyway, go with the tried and tested blind date with friends' friends, if need be.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I saw the effects of a 'gokon' yesterday Sitting down on the train floor,3 girls (adults?) singing anime songs in unison-all this at 3pm in the afternoon. Sorta pathetic really..........

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

StrangerlandSep. 28, 2014 - 06:12PM JST

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk.

What a ridiculous comment. Many men, if not most, are polite when drunk.

One of the first symptoms of being drunk is to lose objective view of oneself and surroundings.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The picture fits the story pretty well... the woman is clearly not that happy with the guy next to her, and I think the guy is more interested in the beer than the woman.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Find me a man, who is polite, when he gets drunk. It all depends only on the amount of alcohol you drink. The point of these parties is about harassing a woman, something you are not allowed to do under normal circumstances. The more she lets you, the more likely, you will end up with her, even if only for one night.

This article is strange in that it identifies and targets specific and huge companies and accuses them of sexual and other horrible harassment just based on someone's account of their experience. No woman should ever be harassed. Never ever. But should a huge company be labeled as a lawless gang of harassers just because someone had a bad experience?

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

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