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Japan: Marriage Hunting!

Since autumn of last year, in Japan, a new term has been floating in the air. It is konkatsu 婚活 (an abbreviation of kekkon katsu結婚活動), based on the popular phrase shûkatsu (就活 job hunting), it may be roughly translated as ‘marriage hunting’.
Konkatsu is not merely a new word, it is a social phenomenon that has emerged lately to the point that Japanese have felt the need to ‘name’ and recognize it, also representing it in many TV series [ja] and shows [ja].

By Flickr user Kalandrakas

By Flickr user Kalandrakas

Known as one of the countries with the lowest birth rate in the world, Japan has also been facing another problem, probably because of a wealthier lifestyle: the increasing number of unmarried people, who have no intention to give up their working ambitions and personal whims to create a family.
According to a survey on ‘the state of country’ [ja] by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, in fact, in the decades from 1970 to 2000, the percentage of unmarried women (20-30 y.o.) has tripled from 18% to 54% and, similarly, the percentage of single men (30-40 y.o.) has grown from 12 % to 43%.

Thus, marriage hunting would seem to be going against the trend but, perhaps because of the economic crisis or perhaps because of the social pressure that still today weighs on those unmarried, especially women, relatively more mature men and women seem to have decided at this point in their lives to roll up their sleeves and find someone to live with.

Konkatsu@net, a website specialized in konkatsu explains the guidelines for a successful ‘marriage hunting’.

『就活』には「会社説明会の参加」や「面接」などの会社との接触だけではなく、「資格を取る」「自分の長所・短所を探す」「情報を集める」「SP対策を行う」といった前段階の活動が含まれますよね。

During a ‘job hunting’ period, it's not only important to have contacts with the company you want to work for participating to its ‘company explanatory meeting’ and interviews. Other preliminary activities such as gaining a qualification, understanding your own strong and weak points, collecting information, and preparing for the standard written exam are also important.

それと同じように、『婚活』にも様々な活動が含まれます。
男性なら「体を鍛える」「服選びのセンスを磨く」「話題を増やす」「メンズエステに通う」、女性なら「エステやネイルサロンに通う」「料理の勉強や習い事」まで、全てが結婚活動の一部と言えます。
しかし、『婚活』において最も重要な活動は「出会いを増やすこと」です。

In the same way, ‘marriage hunting’ consists of many different activities.
Men will ‘train their body’, ‘improve their taste in choosing clothes’, ‘increase the number of subjects to talk about’ and ‘go to aesthetic salons’. Also women will ‘have aesthetic treatments for body and nails’ and ‘learn how to cook’. All these measures are considered necessary to konkatsu.
However, the most important thing is ‘increasing the number of opportunities to meet people’.

Chii, a 37 y.o. office lady tells on her website of her experience as marriage hunter subscribed to a ‘marriage counseling agency’.
In her introductory lines she explains why she decided to enroll in a konkatsu programme. (In particular, she displays a sense of humour in the page where she analyses and draws a picture of some of the odd characters that the marriage counseling agency introduced her to, and who all disappointed her hopes of finding ‘the one’.

27歳から32歳まで付き合っていた彼氏にまさかの別れを告げられ、その後は「何とかなるか・・・」という気持ちを心の拠り所に独身生活を続けています。
今の職場もかれこれ10年以上勤めているのである意味お局様状態なのですが、私よりも大御所が何人かいるのでプチお局様程度のキャリアです。
そしてこんなままではあの大御所に追いついてしまう!(追い越すことはありませんが・・・)という危機感から、一念発起して『結婚相談所』に入会したという訳です。

From the age of 27 to 32 I had a boyfriend. But since he told me that he wanted to break up with me I've continued my life as single thinking that somehow things would take a turn for the better.
I've been working in an office for more than 10 years and in a certain sense I am THE office lady but mine is only a ‘petit career’ compared to that of all the other people who are the leading figures of my company.
So in order to avoid the risk of outstaying those people (I would never surpass them…) I made up my mind to join the ‘marriage counseling agency’.

[…]

確かに結婚相談所では私の条件に見合った男性を毎月紹介してくれます。
でも・・・、でも違うんです。
データ上の数字(年齢・年収・体型)は合格なんです。
でもでも・・・違うんです。
別に高望みはしません。普通の人でいいのです。
そう・・・普通の人。

They introduce me every day a different guy who meets the conditions stipulated.
But…still something seems wrong.
Looking at their numbers (age, income, physique) they are OK.
But, but…there is something wrong.
I don't have particularly high expectations. I want a normal person.
Yes … a normal person.

Nowadays, advertisements of marriage counseling agencies appear also in the public offices, as Bon lets us know.

区役所で結婚相談という広告が目に入る
戸籍謄本が必要で発行される間、多くの広告が目に入る中で1ヵ月過ぎた先日、ふらっと広告を貰いに
そして、電話してみた
来週、登録へ

I was at the ward office and an advertisement of marriage counseling caught my attention
Few days ago, after a month since I first saw that advertisement and whilst they were preparing a copy of the family register, without thinking too much, I took a copy of that ad.
Then I called them
Next week I'll go to register

But regarding to those kinds of agencies and the phenomenon in general, criticizing words come from a Japanese mother writing in English:

They have got to take interviews and exams to meet their partner? They have to dress up to pretend like good person?
The people who make up these new words must have a plot. They try young people to feel rushed to get married and persuade to join the marriage agencies [ja]!
Don’t be deceived, ladies and gentlemen! Don’t be rushed and don’t fake yourself!

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