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Buddhism and Shintoism share space pretty peacefully in Japan, partially thanks to a division of duties. Shinto shrines, for example, handle weddings, while Buddhist temples are the locations of funerals and graveyards.

These days, though, a few Buddhist temples are helping singles find someone to marry at one of those Shinto weddings, though, as one sect of Buddhism in east Japan has branched out into organizing matchmaking parties.

In some ways, Japanese courtship could be called “shy” by western standards, with students and young adults, on average, being much more discreet and reserved in pursuing relationships than their American and European counterparts. At times, though, Japanese singles can be incredibly frank in their romantic ambitions, which is why the Japanese language has the word konkatsu.

Literally translating as “marriage activities,” konkatsu refers to the actions of singles who’re searching for a romantic partner with the understanding that they’re interested in a serious relationship that stands a good chance of leading to marriage, not just a fun, light fling. Several companies offer konkatsu matchmaking services, and now so too does the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, through its Kichienkai (“Favorable Meeting Club”) organization.

Unlike private konkatsu companies, Kichienkai isn’t concerned with turning a profit, and thus has no need for the sign-up and annual fees of business-oriented konkatsu options. Nor does the organization charge an additional sum in the case that you actually do wind up marrying someone you meet at one of its events.

Instead, Kichienki is solely focused on bringing compatible singles together, and as such only charges enough to cover its expenses, with its most inexpensive events costing just 1,500 yen (US$13). The events are held in temples, adding a touch of class and eschewing the booze-powered, pressure-filled atmosphere of less seemly singles parties.

Instead, possible activities include dining on traditional shonin ryori (the vegetarian fare served to monks in Buddhist temples)…

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…making strings of Buddhist prayer beads…

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…or, for the particularly devout, listening to a sermon given by the temple’s abbot.

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The religious overtones don’t mean Kichienkai’s events have an entirely austere air to them, though. Participants receive amulets said to help in finding a good romantic match, plus heart-shaped bean cakes.

▼ Nothing wrong with satisfying your sweet tooth as you look for your sweetheart

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At the end of the event, the monks will deliver your contact information to any participants you wish, sparing you the awkwardness of having to offer or ask in-person.

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So far, the response to Kichienkai has been extremely positive. A recent event in Shizuoka Prefecture received more than 600 applications, and out of the 2,600 singles who’ve participated in the organization’s events, 70 happy couple have walked down the aisle so far.

Kichienkai’s next sign-up day in Tokyo is scheduled for April 26 at Tokugenin Temple, and its next Tokyo konkatsu event for May 24 at Ryuunji Temple. In other words, newcomers will have to visit two locations to attend the event, but a mini temple pilgrimage circuit seems worth it if the result is finding the person of your dreams.

Related: Kichienkai Tokyo
Source: At Press News
Top image: Kichienkai Tokyo
Insert images: At Press News
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