It's that time of year again when even more face mask-donning commuters descend on the trains. Not wanting to catch a cold, not wanting to spread a cold, trying to hide a pimple, just not wanting to talk to anyone, keeping your face warm as the temperature slowly drops... the reasons for wearing one are endless. However, the people behind Tokyo-based dating service Def Anniversary have just taken the humble surgical mask and given it a slightly different function: a tool for 'marriage hunting'. And apparently, their concept has proven a hit.
At Def's events, singles meet up for massive speed-dating sessions in various locations across the country, but with one important addition: everyone's wearing masks. The underlying philosophy is that since a face mask obscures half of the face, the person sitting across is forced to focus not on physical appearance, but personality.
The participants themselves seem to agree, with one attendee, interviewed by Reuters, claiming that she 'was able to find out more about their inner selves and not just judge them by their looks'. For others, half-hiding their face seems to boost confidence or at least make them relax a bit more, as with another attendee: 'Since I wasn't judged by my appearance, I think I was able to be more outgoing with women.'
Def Anniversary present masked match-making as 'a new style of konkatsu (marriage hunting)' in this age of diversity. They offer a range of different options within the mask-dating niche, including events for only those over 30, location-specific events and, for an extra twist, a masked cooking class. They speculate that the method could even help combat the declining birth rate. So, next time you go on a date... you know what to bring.