Matchmaking event with a twist will have people looking for love while they look for Ghibli art.

Last month, the government of Aichi Prefecture started accepting applications for a konkatsu event it was organizing. Konkatsu literally translates as “marriage activities,” and it refers to matchmaking activities for people looking for a marriage-minded romantic partner.

Like most konkatsu events, there are some demographic requirements. Participants have to be single, of course, between the ages of 20 and 39, and either living, working, or going to school within Aichi Prefecture. In addition, there’s one unofficial requirement in order to get the most out of the event: you have to be a Studio Ghibli anime fan.

The format of the event is that participants are put into groups of six, three men and three women, for a sort of public art scavenger hunt in Aichi Expo Memorial Park, in the town of Nagakute. If those location names have you thinking “Hey, that’s where Ghibli Park is!”, you’re absolutely correct. Though the konkatsu event won’t involve entering any of the official Ghibli Park enclaves inside Aichi Expo Memorial Park, the teams will be tasked with tracking down a number of Ghibli-related public art pieces that can be found/seen within the public-space areas of Aichi Expo Memorial Park.

▼ So, for example, they might need to find this sculpture of My Neighbor Totoro’s Mei’s hat and corn that’s installed on one of the park’s benches.

Given the broad popularity of Ghibli’s animated movies in Japan, and a perceived pent-up demand as a result of many konkatsu events being cancelled or suspended during the hiatus, the Aichi Prefecture government decided to plan their Ghibli konktasu event on a large scale that would accommodate 400 participants. But by the time the application period, which ran from August 1 to September 18, closed, they’d received nearly six times as many participation requests as they’d anticipated, with 2,249 people (1,175 men and 1,074 women) wanting to take part. “I think this shows that people are looking for a chance to find a romantic partner,” said an official involved in the planning.

Many konkatsu events are essentially just a group dinner, but Aichi Prefecture may be on to something with adding a unique, hobby-related activity. There are a number of reasons why Japan’s marriage rate is dropping and people who do get married are doing so later, and one of them is a perceived loss of personal identity and freedom when one gives up the single life. Putting a Ghibli twist on the event, though, implies that all the participants have at least a moderate interest in the studio’s anime, and that interest is something they could share and jointly indulge in with a romantic partner rather than having to give it up if they become part of a couple.

Unfortunately, with the event scheduled to take place on October 7, there’s apparently not enough time or other resources to expand its scale, and so 400 applicants were chosen from the pool of 2,249 by a lottery. On the bright side, that means that there are still 1,800-plus people who’d like to take part in a Ghibli-themed konkatsu event, and with autumn being widely considered the most comfortable time of year to spend outdoors in Japan, there should be plenty of time to organize at least one more iteration of the event.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert image: Studio Ghibli
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