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So I decide to try out Pairs, a dating application linked to Facebook that, along with Match Alarm, Niku Kai, and Yahoo Omiai, is one of the country’s most popular.
As with most Japanese dating apps, women can sign up for free, while men pay ¥2,380 (roughly ) per month.
I decide to be up front with her about my intentions (journalistic, not romantic) and send a note explaining that I’m a writer from New York who’s interested in talking to her about her experiences.
Soon my inbox bleeps with a message–not from her, but from the site, whose strict rules I have unwittingly violated.
Japanese users are turned off by the breezy, casual tone of sites like OKCupid, Tinder, and
Such sites aren’t good at marketing to Asian users. S,” he says, “all they do is localize languages, but obviously [Japanese] culture is different.”Minutes after registering, I get my first “like,” from a 26-year-old Kyoto woman named Megumi-san who says she’s using Pairs to find friends.
The country is in the middle of something of a sex crisis.
Its birthrate is among the lowest on earth, and the number of marriages is in decline.
“She actually messaged me first,” says the software engineer, who’s now 23 and working at a web startup in Tokyo [names of daters in this piece have been changed to protect their privacy].Another app, Furendo Tossu (or “Friend Toss,” from the word Japanese people use for a volleyball pass), is a site for meeting new people with common interests, ostensibly as friends.It shows you your friends’ Facebook friends, and if there are any who you think you’d get along with, the three of you arrange an activity together–lunch or a drink, usually.“To us, female insight and comfort is really important.” In Japan, it is customary for men to pay for their dates, as Pairs’ male users do.
The company’s bridal marketing sends another message, less progressive and increasingly less American: dating means man plus woman. “We have had a few users ask us if they could have that kind of feature,” Kawashita says when I mention the exclusion might be controversial in the U. “It’s not that we don’t want to, just that it’s still very few, so we haven’t focused on that yet.”Cultural differences are the reason many Western dating sites have failed in Japan and in Asia, Kawashita says.
Hence the bridal marketing and fems-use-for-free policy.