Photoscape / A shot in the dark

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Participants wearing eye masks talk with each other in a dimly lit room in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. The rules state participants can only use nicknames.

By Taketo Oishi / Yomiuri Shimbun PhotographerA novel type of matchmaking party in which participants converse with others they can’t actually see has come under the, um, spotlight. Instead, they rely on their other senses in the hope of finding true love.

Three men and three women faced each other across a table in a room in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in late May. They were all wearing eye masks.

“I think something to drink is at hand.”

“We can’t really see anything, can we?”

They continue speaking to one another, while trying to get a feel of what’s on the table.

“I felt nervous, but I could speak more than usual,” said a 20-year-old woman who attends a vocational school.

A 25-year-old man who works in the transportation industry talked about motorcycles, his hobby, and succeeded in attracting the attention of the female attendees.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Participants try to learn about each other’s characters through how they speak or shake hands.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    “Don’t stand up abruptly.” “Don’t say what the food you are eating is even if you know.” These are some of the unique rules for the party.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    It is difficult to eat and drink when you can’t see anything, but it can make for a good conversation starter.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Participants pick a person they are interested in. If two people pick each other, they can exchange contact information. These two participants matched and saw each other after the party.

The idea of the parties is for participants to find someone they could hit it off with by learning about a person, rather than making a snap decision based on appearance. They learn more through what the person talks about, how they speak, how it feels to shake their hand, and so on.

“We can try this event even if we aren’t confident about how we look,” said attendee Keitaro Niizeki, 24.

At the end of the party, each participant picks a person they are interested in. If two people pick each other, they can exchange contact information. If not, they will never actually see each other. At the party I visited, one couple matched.

“Some people are serious about trying to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend,” said Ryo Yamada, 29, a representative director of the event company that runs the party. “Others come here to just find someone they could hit it off with, while also enjoying the event.”

He said he planned the party after being inspired by “dark restaurants,” which are popular in foreign countries.

It will be interesting to see whether this style of matchmaking creates a new way for people to meet. Speech

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