Marriage sans dating

Good morning everyone,

It's actually going to be a gorgeous day today and for the rest of the week. They are calling for sunny skies and daytime highs of 16C or 17C. Then, it looks like we may get some rain on Sunday and clouds on Monday before we see the sun again on Tuesday.

As strange as this sounds to me, 60% of Japanese women and 76% of Japanese men in their 20s report having no romantic partner, yet about 80% of unmarried Japanese say they’re looking towards marriage as a major life goal.

These seemingly incongruous numbers raise an obvious question: How do they expect to get married without first finding a romantic partner and building a relationship that will eventually lead to tying the knot? The Japanese answer? Apparently, “Forget all that dating stuff. I’ll just marry whoever’s convenient.”

A handful of celebrity marriages have apparently helped spark the new trend of “kousai zero nichikon” (roughly translated, “marrying without dating”). Famously, actress Maki Horikita married co-star Koji Yamamoto in 2015 after just a month and change of dating.

▼ Maki Horikita infamously married a co-worker after just weeks of dating

kousaizero1

According to a compilation of news stories related to the phenomenon, many Japanese are choosing to marry friends and acquaintances to save on time and financial commitments that come with dating. Others appear to believe that marrying someone you aren’t dating isn’t just an acceptable last resort, it’s actually better that way, eliminating the emotional exchanges of dating and allowing people to cut straight to the point. A column in the Joshi Spa! magazine even described hunting for a marriage partner in the traditional way as akin to committing suicide.

To be honest, there’s no real evidence that kousai zero nichikon is taking Japan by storm and it’s most likely a niche movement among the fringes of romantically frustrated Japanese. Still, there’s a precedent here with Japan’s now mostly defunct omiai arranged marriage culture – which saw Japanese parents suggesting partners for their adult children. While many Japanese date and marry in the name of love, quite a few view marriage pragmatically, as a means to an end or an unavoidable obligation.

This all isn’t to say that love isn’t a factor for Japanese couples. Joshi Spa! notes that the rate of arranged marriage divorces is actually dwarfed by the divorce rate of traditional modern marriages. What does that tell us? That the traditional way is riskier? Or that people feel a stronger sense of obligation to their marriages? Or just as likely, are they pressured by their parents to stay married to save 'face'?

Hmmm...now all I need to do is make friends with a beautiful, rich, single Japanese woman...ha ha!

Have a great day!

PS The 'sans' in the title comes from French and it means 'without'. But we use it English as well.


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