Are you tired of the dating scene in Tokyo? You’re looking for a serious relationship but can’t seem to meet anyone interesting around you? Remember speed dating? With the invention of dating apps like Tinder, we sometimes forget how people used to meet back in the day.
In the land of overworked singles with little free time, it should come to no surprise that organized dating events are so popular. Speed dating is still very much alive in Japan with dozens of events happening every week. If these events are mostly geared towards a Japanese speaking clientele, do not despair if your nihongo skills are not quite up to par. Tokyo Speed Dating has been organizing international events for lonely hearts since 2001.
I’ve probably passed on dozens of great guys on Tinder without knowing it.
Always up for a challenge, I decided to join a friend and try speed dating when he asked me to accompany him. I’m definitively a Tinder girl, and if I’m generally satisfied with my dating app, I do sometimes feel a twinge of uneasiness after swiping left on a man because he didn’t quite fit my type. It’s ridiculously easy to reject someone after looking at their picture for a second.
Throughout my life, I’ve initially disregarded many guys I wasn’t attracted to only to find myself seeing them in a new light not long after. I’ve probably passed on dozens of great guys on Tinder without knowing it. How about I tried building a real connection for a change, instead of looking for instant attraction.
If you’re not familiar with speed dating already, the concept is quite simple. Ladies are seated at a table and men rotate around the room. Every five minutes, a bell rings and participants discreetly evaluate each other on a scoring sheet, before moving on to their next potential match. The goal is to get a general idea of the person and decide whether you’d like to meet them again or not. At the end of the event, participants hand in their score sheet. If two people selected each other, their contact information is then forwarded by the organizers and it is up to them to arrange a second meeting.
I met my friend at Roppongi Station and we walked to Bar Quest, where the event was taking place. After collecting my name tag, scoring sheet and drink coupon, I sat at my table, lit by a single pink candle. I peeked discreetly at my neighbors. If about half of the men were foreigners, most women were Japanese. In fact, apart from me, only one other woman was foreign looking. The age of the participants ranged from early twenties to late forties.
There were about forty of us in the room, so I’d be meeting around 20 men in the next three hours. When the bell rang, my first conversation partner sat at my table and we started chatting. After talking to a few men, I quickly realized that five minutes could either pass very quickly or sometimes drag on forever… Having been on many Tinder dates before, I rarely ran out of things to say, but we were also provided with a few sample questions, to help get things going. Halfway through, the organizers also announced a welcome break to grab a bite and mingle freely. It was nice to be able to talk to people freely, without a time constraint.
Overall, even though I personally did not meet anyone that I felt I clicked with, I still had a good evening and enjoyed my experience. I won’t lie and say I enjoyed talking to everyone and I did feel quite tired at the end. As you meet so many people, you do sometimes get a bit confused and forget which questions you already asked. However, I met many interesting people, that were not my type or in my age range, but would definitively make a great partner to somebody else.
I do think it is possible to meet someone at a speed dating event. A few of the participants I spoke with had met people through this event in the past and Tokyo Speed Dating has played matchmaker to more than 15 happily married couple since 2001. There is potential here. If you can’t seem to find what you are looking for or don’t feel confident enough with your nampa skills, it’s definitively worth giving speed dating a try.