"Aggressive women" have started a new craze for "marriage-hunting" in Japan. Complete with state-of-the-art search-and-marry lingerie!
Although Japan's unmarried population has risen steeply in the last few years, and its birth-rate declined (possibly as a result of increased wealth and dedication by both sexes to career), the last year has witnessed the creation of a new movement: konkatsu, or "marriage-hunting." The term is a literal adaptation of "job-hunting," and the process is not dissimilar.
While the raft of new matchmaking services and sites are not unfamiliar, and matchmaking is as old as time, the pragmatic, modern, businesslike approach - and cultural embrace of the phenomenon - are. Basically, "marriage-hunting" employs the methodology of a successful job hunt. Konkatsu@net, a marriage-hunt site, explains the approach, as translated by Global Voices, thusly:
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....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'.
This particularly straightforward approach is, some feel, the result of a paradigm shift. Explains the maker of that forementioned bra, "Japanese women are becoming more aggressive than men, working actively to make marriage happen, whereas in the past it was men who led women toward marriage." And "aggressive" new women are the target demographic for the terrifying konkatsu bra, lingerie worthy of a regressive Bond villainess. We couldn't have made this up - nor would we have wished to:
Triumph's latest novelty bra features an electronic nuptial timepiece, putting women seeking spouses literally on the clock. If an engagement ring is inserted into the mechanism, the countdown stops and the bra plays Felix Mendelssohn's "The Wedding March." The bra also includes holders for the traditional seal some people use to sign off contracts and a pen for any possible nuptial agreement.
If this is the armor of female empowerment, well, we're doin it rong. One older lady objects to husband-hunting on more romantic grounds, writing on the Konkatsu message board,
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!
Japan: Marriage Hunting! [Global Voices]
Japan bra maker offers support for husband hunters [Reuters]