Despite being located almost a stone's throw from the historic town of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture and establishing itself as the gyōza capital of Japan, Utsunomiya was languishing in the economic doldrums for the much of the early 2000s.

Nearly a decade later, the situation is much improved thanks to the creation of a massive, citywide speed-dating event that was first organized by local bar owner Hitoshi Sasaki in conjunction with three restaurant owners in August 2004.

Called miyakon, a pormanteau of Utsunomiya and gokon (matchmaking party), the fad has almost taken on a life of its own. What first attracted 170 people to the inaugural party now brings in 20,000 or so every year to attend monthly events held in the city.