Dating in Japan

Updated 2024-03-27 10:56

Well, there is no need to panic. Dating places in Japan are the same as in other countries. They include friendship circles, sports clubs, leisure clubs, and professional networks, amongst many other options. Even cities are playing Cupid's game and reviving the love letter trend. Dating applications have shown their limits. Those who aspire to romance are looking for more integrity and authenticity. If you are, too, why not give it a try?

Online dating in Japan

Like many other countries, social networks have entirely transformed how love is found in the Land of the Rising Sun. They are known to be simpler, faster, and often compelling. However, in Japan, especially in love life, people appear unable to make time for romance. Work takes up a large part of the day, even on weekends, and with apps, there's no need to search anymore. Love just comes to you, but is that really true?

Top 3 popular dating apps in Japan

Various matching apps available in Japan allow you to look for love and marriage or just a companion. All you need to do is sign up first, then discover a companion online, chat via email, go on a date, and build a lasting personal connection. Below are the top three matching apps used in Japan


Pairs is designed for individuals seeking meaningful relationships, including finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. The app offers a variety of features to enhance the user experience and increase the chances of finding a compatible partner. Notably, Pairs has established collaboration agreements with Mie and Gifu prefectures, receiving support from local governments to promote its usage.

You can easily navigate through the app's extensive search functions to discover your ideal match. Additionally, Pairs offers an optional plan for those seeking marriage within a year, catering to individuals with serious intentions. The "My Tag" feature enables users to connect with others who share similar hobbies and values, fostering deeper connections. 

Moreover, the app ensures safety through a monitoring system that combines human visual inspection and AI technology, earning recognition with the prestigious Maruti Mark for meeting stringent screening criteria.


One of the standout features of With is the inclusion of a psychological test that leads to a personalized partner recommendation based on the results. This streamlines the search for a compatible partner and facilitates meeting new people by allowing users to send likes and messages to up to 10 individuals with high compatibility daily at no cost. Additionally, the app offers a “Preference card” feature where users can list their hobbies and connect with those who have similar interests.

The app predominantly attracts users in their 20s, accounting for 65% of the user base, while individuals over 40 make up only 8% of the total users. Given this demographic distribution, it is particularly recommended for individuals in their 20s and 30s looking to explore potential relationships through the platform.


Tapple, a popular matching app with a TV commercial featuring Naeno, boasts an impressive user base of over 17 million members, putting it on par with other major apps like Pairs. As part of the CyberAgent Group, a prominent company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Tapple has been successfully operating for 8 years, making it one of the longest-standing matching services available.

Tapple's user-friendly interface earns it the top spot in the Oricon ranking for ease of use. Tapple is ideal for those new to matching apps, as it offers a seamless experience for finding a partner. 

66% of Tapple's user base falls within the 18 to 20 age range, making it particularly suitable for students and new members of society. Whether you're a young adult exploring the dating scene or seeking a fresh start, Tapple is highly recommended (source: Recommended matching app ranking in Japanese).

Social circles in Japan

Dating apps are facing a paradox. While they are still used widely, they are being contested even more, and Japan is no exception. Apps are often diverted from their primary purpose and turned into platforms for connecting with peers. They are preferred to more authentic encounters, like those enabled by social circles. To meet new people in Japan, whether to make friends or meet colleagues, there is nothing better than going back to basics.

Friendship circles

Many couples are formed within friendship circles. It is the ideal informal setting for new encounters that instill relationships around shared activities. You can also hop around between different friends' circles and end up inviting one or more people who might not even belong to the group to join you and your friends on a Karaoke night, at a game center, at a barbecue, or even at an izakaya (friendly bar). There are so many different places where you can meet your friends, and more if you want to.


Goukon (合コン), derived from “GODO KOMPA (合同コンパ)”, is a social gathering where men and women meet. The term combines “GODO (合同)”, representing two groups coming together, and “KOMPA (コンパ)”, referring to an exchange or drinking party. Initially popular among university clubs, it has now become a popular way for working adults to socialize in Japan and is considered a great opportunity for men and women to connect.

Sports, music, and cultural clubs in Japan

Baseball, modern or traditional dance, tennis, athletics, hiking, singing, guitar, taiko (Japanese drum), drawing, ikebana (Japanese floral art), sewing, painting, sculpture, reading, you name it! There are plenty of activities in Japan. Did you have a passion in your country? Did you continue your activities in Japan? Did you discover new ones? 

Just like the circle of friends, clubs are robust meeting playgrounds. Doing the same activity brings people closer. You learn more about yourself and others. You integrate, participate in competitions, championships, and festivals, and get to know all places of socialization and sharing that can lead to romantic encounters.

Professional relationships in Japan

Mixing love and work is said to be a bad idea, but they may have found a solution in Japan with their famous speed-dating lunches. More and more employees are resorting to them. Pressured by the lack of time, they see a quick way to socialize and meet each other during lunchtime. During these lunchkons, there is no place for unwanted supervisors or colleagues.

There is also a drink party (飲み会/nomikai), which in Japanese means meeting to drink. These are after-work drinking sessions, but they are sometimes more of a social convention rather than a meeting event. They are sometimes even denounced and experienced as extra work.

Marriage consulting agencies in Japan

Marriage agencies are places where you can look for marriage partners. Since personal information is registered in advance, you can check the other person's profile before the meeting. Also, based on the registered data, the agency will introduce you to a partner whose age, annual income, hobbies, and requirements match your needs, so relationships tend to develop easily.

If you are serious about marriage, marriage agencies are beneficial as they provide a reliable environment for finding a partner. Joining a marriage agency requires submitting various certificates, increasing the credibility of member profiles. You can also interact with multiple people simultaneously at a marriage agency, aiding in efficient partner selection. In addition, seeking advice from matchmaking professionals at a marriage consultation office can be helpful in various aspects of the relationship journey.

Registering with a marriage agency in Japan

One does not register with a marriage agency as one would on a dating application. The selection is very stringent. In Japan, it seems to be even stricter for men. Agencies ask them to provide, in addition to their identity papers, a salary slip, proof of their employment status, their diplomas, a certificate guaranteeing that they are indeed single, etc. They must not only “present themselves well” physically but also socially. They don't ask as much of women though!

The budget for registering with a Japanese marriage agency

Get your pockets ready. Hiring a matrimonial agency is expensive. You may need to pay about 310,000 to 480,000 yen or more for a one-year subscription. Prices will vary according to the different fees charged by each agency. You have the registration fee, the monthly subscription fee, the matching fee, and additional fees. In that sense, marriage agencies are much more expensive than dating apps. This is one of the main reasons why they lost out to cheaper apps that had a faster “return on investment” (many profiles available, almost infinitely renewable), but the cost is no longer a barrier. The Japanese no longer hesitate to invest to find real-world love.

Interview with the marriage counselor in Japan

Once you have registered, you will meet with a marriage counselor (often a woman) who will review your situation, your needs, and your expectations with you. The counselor will scrutinize and discuss your qualities, flaws, hobbies, and everything else. The counselor will also analyze your posture and the way you express yourself. You will receive advice on what to say or not say on a first date, how to dress, etc.

The “Soulmate Hunt” in Japan

Matrimonial agencies work in two stages or on two levels. The first stage gives you access to some advice for a few months, but if you want to move up to the next level and meet people, you will have to pay again to join the agency. You will then be put in contact with several people who want to get married. After each meeting, you will debrief with your counselor. This will go on until you have found your soulmate.

The marriage agency and o-miai in Japan: same objective!

You have perhaps heard of the o-miai (or omiai), which is the Japanese arranged meeting in view of marriage. The practice dates back to the Meiji era and has shown incredible longevity and resilience in the face of the challenges brought about by modernity. Often seen as old-fashioned by the younger generations, the “omiai” is making its forceful comeback thanks to the very same generation, who has been disappointed by dating apps.

For the omiai, the chosen ones will have only seen each other in a photo before the wedding day. Usually, it is the job of the two families to set up the first meeting between the bride and groom-to-be. This meeting can take place in the presence of both families.

At the end of the day, the “omiai” is basically the traditional version of the matrimonial agency. Both have the same function and objective: to bring two people together for a wedding.

Marriage agencies are attracting young people too

Marriage agencies are no longer reserved for people in their 40s. Young Japanese adults and people in their thirties are many to request their services, the main reason being that they can't stand dating apps anymore or are tired of them. The impressive catalog of profiles on dating apps is for them as many avatars that lead to nothing concrete. Large numbers do not mean quality, and the Japanese have understood that part. They now look for more authentic, meaningful relationships.

Marriage agencies have another advantage: they can meet very specific needs. The algorithms of dating apps have shown their limits and their drifts. By building your project with a consultant, you can include information that an algorithm would not have been able to vet.

Getting help for finding your soul mate in Japan

Machikon and dating agencies

Tokyo is famous for dating parties and other giant events organized by matchmaking agencies. In Utsunomiya (Tochigi prefecture), dating events are organized at the regional level. The municipalities are involved in seminars, conferences, parties, and various other related activities and communicate. For them, the stakes are high. Marriages are just as many potential births. 

Faced with the challenge of a low birth rate, local authorities have decided to invest in marriage agencies. They organize machikon, which are huge speed-dating events, to facilitate encounters that can eventually produce matching couples. Since there are age categories for “machikon”, one needs to register well in advance. On the very day, one can then hop from restaurant to restaurant (since there's a time limit for each restaurant). The biggest “machikon” can gather several thousand people.

Finding your soulmate in Japan through your company

As the government tackles the decreasing birthrate, more and more companies are offering matching apps as part of their welfare services. The company signs up for the matching service. If the company pays the fee, you can access the service at a reduced price or, in some instances, register for free. This service lets you connect with people from your company or other companies.

These apps help young employees meet each other, aiming to improve work performance by supporting their work environment and personal lives. Having the workplace's approval makes young employees feel more at ease, potentially leading to a positive cycle of marriage hunting.




Writing love letters in Japan

The Japan Paper Association has held a Love Letter Contest every year from January to February since 2011. Aiming to raise awareness, it targets the younger generation, who are more familiar with digital communication tools like mobile phones and email. Through letter writing, young people will rekindle the value of expressing emotions on paper, something that cannot be found digitally. 

How to say the right words in Japanese

How do you say those few little words that make hearts skip a beat? Rather than the big and fiery “I love you”, in Japan, people are more into the take-it-slow mode. Everything starts with “kokuhaku” ( ), the confession. Here, kokuhaku means “declaration of love”.

It is worth noting that there are several degrees of politeness in Japanese. All the sentences below are written in a simple form.

How to say…

  • You are interested

Jitsu wa (name of the person you care about) no koto ki ni natteru. Yokattara, de-to shiyou ka?

In Japanese, “ki ni natteru” is used a lot to show that you are interested in someone or something. In some languages, the same sentence gives a more direct tone and loses its charm, like in:

“Actually, I'm interested in you. If you want, we could go out someday?”

  • You like someone

Jitsu wa (name of the person that you like) ga suki desu. Moshi yokattara, de-to shiyou ka?

You probably heard the word “suki” all over the place. “Suki” to say that you like a movie, a waffle, a book, or a pair of pants, or "Suki" to say that you like to laze around under the comforter or, on the contrary, to go for a morning jog. As opposed to what we sometimes may think, "suki" is not the big "I love you". It's more like, "I like you". Hence, if you really like the person, don't say "I love you!" already. It might scare the person away. Instead, use the "suki" word. You'll have the time and opportunity to express your crush.

  • You love someone


There it is, the big "I love you", but no one actually says it. This expression is far too strong and passionate. Save it for big moments when you're already a couple, but still, it will depend on the couple, of course. However, keep one thing in mind: Do not say that to propose a date!

More tips about dating in Japan

We will spare you the "how do the Japanese think" rhetoric and the other unfounded innuendos. We'll start from the point where we assume that each person is unique, but at the same time, we will assume that you are living in a country and are being immersed in a culture that is shaping you.

It is worth noting that in Japan, people are not usually very demonstrative in public. A kind of reserve that one would also observe in their love relationships. No passionate kisses or hugs in public. People just hold hands, and that's good enough. Love in Japan is more of a private and intimate space, where small, delicate attentions, by contrast, can be expected in abundance. It's all up to you to find out which ones your partner will offer you and which ones you are willing to offer them.

Never stop communicating. You have your culture and your background, and your partner has theirs. You might experience some misunderstandings and turbulence, but these times will pass more easily if you keep communicating with each other, but not in just any way. Set yourself some rules. Be a kind lover, an active listener, a patient person, an understanding accomplice, and an emphatic friend, and nurture the art of compromise.

No wonder communication will be smoother if you speak Japanese, but this doesn't by any means guarantee a long and smooth journey.

Mutual respect is key! Treat each other and your cultures with consideration. Take a step towards each other. Allow yourself to be surprised, as you are not quite the same in a foreign country as you are at home. With your partner, you will discover a new version of yourself.

Useful links (in Japanese):


Kyokoi (Love Now)



Love scoop

Marriage Matching Love

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