Every week in Japan, English-language magazines carry upward of 200 classified ads placed by both Japanese and non-Japanese people seeking to meet strangers whom they hope to strike up a relationship with.

For the average reader the ads are often the first thing they turn to when they pick up the magazine. It's not that most aim to pursue what's offered or sought through those few cryptic lines -- and even a quick inspection will take in such predilections as spanking, bondage and group sex, as well as plenty craving true love. Instead, the ads' magnetic appeal is in the titillation of imagining what they will lead to, and what kind of romantic, funny, weird, tortured or obsessive people post or respond to such pleas.

So, to find out who lies behind the ads, whether they are regular people or freaks, and what response they get, it seemed sensible to send out some e-mails asking to meet.