Marriage-Centered Dating Apps in Japan
Finding Your Partner For Life
If you're looking for a serious relationship and tired of the games on standard dating apps, then why not try one that's focused on marriage instead?
We’re mid-cuffing season now, and people seem to be pairing up left, right and center, even in Japan. Living in Japan can be lonely at times. There are language and culture barriers to contend with, and if you’re not the casual dating sort, then clubs or casual dating apps aren’t for you.
What Is Omiai?
Omiai (お見合い) is something akin to the Western ‘match-making’ practice. Originally limited to the upper classes and meant to align clans via shared bloodlines, modern-day omiai services are typically approached by the person looking to marry. They are not an arranged marriage per se, but a personally catered selection of suitable partners that said person can meet, get to know and then decide to date/marry.
According to a 2022 study conducted by Recruit Co. Ltd (the parent group of the marriage magazine Zexy), the percentage of people who got married as a result of using apps in general increased by about eight percent between 2019 and 2021. These results show that it’s not uncommon for people to meet and get married on an app. For some it’s seen as less stressful than meeting a partner themselves, for others it’s a matter of practicality. Others believe that, after dating and not finding what they’re looking for, a match-maker service is the next logical step.
“My parents met via a matchmaker, so did my mom’s parents and, after breaking up with my ex, I’m considering it too”(Japanese woman, 35)
Non-App Omiai Services
If you are looking for a serious relationship where marriage is the goal, then in terms of apps, you need to be careful. A true omiai type dating app is rare. The vast majority of omiai services are still conducted in person (or via video chat). For relationships of this type, you need a deeply personal touch rather than an algorithm. Two of the top non-app services are En-Konkatsu Agent and IBJ.
There are also several factors to keep in mind with any match-making service. First, you will need to have excellent Japanese language skills. The vast majority of these services are Japanese only. Next, your age. The majority of apps are used by those in their 20s-30s. Older users may have little luck finding a partner this way.
You will also need to be living in Japan (some may require a copy of your Residence card and/or passport). For some especially strict services, you will need to provide proof of your annual income and ability to support yourself in Japan outside of getting married.
If you are a man wishing to use these services, you will likely be required to pay a monthly fee. According to one app developer: “The number of married men on the free sites is disgusting” (Japanese man, 27). Casual services can be breeding grounds (pun intended) for people looking for hook-ups. Or simply an ego boost, as is evident in this Ask Hilary about dating app issues.
In terms of serious or marriage-minded apps, the five top options (based on official and friends’ rankings) but presented in no particular order, are as follows.
Zexy Koimusubi is a dating app connected to the above-mentioned Recruit Co. Ltd. Given its connection to a marriage magazine and other such services, it is a go-to for many who want to find someone intent on marriage. In my social circle, four married couples met via this service, so, personally speaking, it seems the most successful.
Its user base is mainly late 20s-early 30s, offers a high degree of compatibility/matching and is connected to an in-person matchmaking agent as well. The only downside to this app is its small user base, although to some that may be a good thing.
In business for over eight years now, Tapple is very competitive but not quite as marriage-centric as the others in this list. It’s rather unique in that, rather than filling out a profile to describe yourself and then searching for people, you fill out what sort of person you’re looking for. You then join various groups based on your hobbies and interests. Once you’ve done this, you’re shown a number of profiles that meet your criteria and then you can like or skip them as you see fit.
It’s very beginner-friendly and ideal for those in their early twenties, new to dating (in general or in Japan) and for not-so-fluent speakers of Japanese. Tapple is a useful app if you want to take it slow and start online before meeting, but again, may not be as helpful if you are looking specifically for marriage.
One of the major selling points of With is its psychological tests. This is how the app narrows down who you will be compatible with, then you can talk for free to up to ten people you are compatible with per day.
The vast majority of users are in their 20s, with only eight percent of users being over 39. Newcomers to the app/dating scene can use this app with ease too, as there is plenty of help in terms of introductory message/conversation guides. According to the 2023 Oricon Dating & Marriage Matching App ranking, With came in third, behind Zexy Enmusubi and Tapple in terms of customer satisfaction.
Omiai is the second largest online/app dating service in Japan that serious relationship seekers in their 20s-30s rely on. It’s anything but casual, and because of heightened security features within the app, it’s highly unlikely you’ll encounter any bot/catfishing accounts from abroad.
Roughly 44 percent of users (according to their statistics) specifically state that they are looking for relationships leading to marriage, while 10 percent of users find a partner within the first six months to a year of use. The only downside to the app, however, is that if you don’t fill out your profile in detail (including income level) you will have far fewer matches.
The largest dating app with a serious slant in Japan, Pairs boasts a 20 million strong user base, and, while they mainly work as a dating app, they have a sub-setting where you can specify you are looking for serious/marriage-minded relationships only. While open to all ages, the majority of users seem to be in the mid-20s-late 30s range.
They have strict screening processes for all users and have even formed partnerships with prefectural governments (like Mie and Gifu) to help their citizens find love too. You can also make friends via the app and otherwise form community groups too.
Good luck and happy (serious) relationship hunting!