The overseas media likes perennially to run stories about Japan that bemoan its low birth rate and point to “sexless youth” as the prime cause. Whatever the truth to this situation, such sensationalism ignores the more mundane reasons, such as Japan’s notoriously long working hours and a shortage of childcare facilities in cities like Tokyo.
That being said, people are certainly marrying later now, if at all, and this has led to a boom in services that try to match people with potential partners.
Marriage hunting (konkatsu) has been around for some time now, and there are even such events specifically for otaku, too.
If you are super shy, though, what should you do?
Simple: Slip on a face mask and attend a speed dating event where you can’t see anyone’s faces.
Attendees wear white surgical masks to encourage them to focus on each other’s personalities. After all, beauty is only skin-deep and fades, and what’s left after that?
“In order to achieve marriage, it is important to provide chances to know a partner’s personality and values in the early stages,” said Def Anniversary head Kei Matsumura. “We chose surgical masks as an essential tool for that.”
Cynics may sneer and say this defeats the whole purpose: if you can’t see the full face of the potential partner, then you aren’t likely to be impressed by them.
Wearing a face mask in Japan is not the extreme disaster movie-level choice that it would be overseas. It is very common to wear a face mask in public or private if you have a cold or suffer from hay fever. In fact, an entire industry has evolved devoted to face masks, which come in almost all shapes and sizes. Some are overtly “fashionable” versions of the standard white surgical model, in addition to the requisite novelty ones.