To Koki Goto’s relief, the clouds part by early afternoon and the Hamarikyu Gardens in central Tokyo are doused in sunshine — perfect weather for couples to take idyllic strolls around the compound’s immaculately maintained hedges, ponds and lawns.
Twelve nervous men and women have gathered here on this Sunday in late April for a matchmaking event. But before any romantic sparks can fly, they’ll need to get to know one another.
“Thanks for attending the meetup today. I’d like to begin by asking everyone to briefly introduce themselves,” Goto says from the far end of a tatami-floored room in a traditional tea house sitting in one corner of the gardens. Goto heads an organization called J-konkatu, which is dedicated to introducing potential couples in the hope that they’ll eventually want to tie the knot. The group holds events like this at various points throughout the year.