OSAKA – Flash mob marriage proposals are growing in popularity, especially among young people, with event planning agencies offering services from arranging dance lessons to providing dancers.
Osaka-based Emotion Rise, which was launched about three years ago, is one such agency helping to organize flash mob events. It also has branches in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
Of the roughly 500 requests it receives annually to orchestrate flash mob events, about 70 percent are for wedding parties and the remainder for marriage proposals at commercial or other public venues, according to the company.
Costs range from about ¥250,000 to several million yen, and clients include not just Japanese men, but also women as well as non-Japanese, company staff said.
For example, one marriage proposal package costs about ¥500,000, including rent on the venue, dispatch of 16 dancers and lessons at a dance studio, as well as optional video recording and helicopter flight for the couple.
At the dance lessons, an instructor provides heaps of advice, down to the minute details about movements of the wrist and other body parts.
“During the performance of just about five minutes, your partner’s heart will be flooded with surprise, excitement, delight and a whole spectrum of other emotions, and surely will be deeply moved,” says Hiroki Nishitani, 29, an Emotion Rise staff member.
Flash mobs first appeared about 15 years ago in Europe and the United States, according to Masaaki Ito, a Seikei University professor well-versed in group movements such as protest rallies.
Large numbers of participants were often recruited through the Internet to take part in a joint action to surprise passersby. Video footage of flash mob events shared on the Internet gained attention and popularity, and such performances quickly spread around the world.
Compared with flash mobs in Europe and the United States, where many are staged for antiwar purposes or as part of product commercials, those in Japan are often organized for wedding-related celebrations.
“When we look at it from the global perspective, (flash mobs) have found its place (in Japan) in a unique way, as a form of entertainment involving the entire group of people altogether,” Ito says.
In addition, the concept of performances involving a large group of dancers is well-received by Japanese people given the influence of popular idol groups like the all-girl group AKB48, the professor said.
“Even though young people nowadays have lost interest in buying luxury brand goods or cars, they are willing to spend money without reservation when it comes to creating personal experiences and good memories,” says Mihoko Nishii, a senior researcher on youth trends at advertising giant Dentsu Inc., explaining why such services are popular despite being expensive.
Furthermore, as many people now habitually post photos and videos on social networking sites, there is also high demand for videography services.
The number of agencies that arrange for flash mob surprise performances is on the rise.
“This matches with the current trend of creating original content for one’s own wedding,” says an official in charge of major wedding magazine Zexy published by Recruit Marketing Partners Co.