Report on Matchmaking Cafes

 Although not sex establishments, there are places called “matchmaking cafes” in Japan, where men pay money to find partners. It’s free of charge for women.

 They can be found only in urban areas and not in rural ones. Maybe they cannot become profitable in the countryside. Most of them use one whole floor of a building.

 I knew some about them from news reports or web posts. I’d had no actual experience. So I decided to visit one.

1 I chose the biggest group in the Tokyo area that operates more than ten branches. It delivers real-time information on Twitter, and uploads movies on YouTube.

 It was located on the fifth floor of a building about three minutes’ walk from the nearest station. After the elevator doors opened, loud dance music came in. The interior looked like a casino or luxurious lounge.

 Two workers were standing at the front desk, who started by “Welcome!” with a big smile. One of them asked me if I was new, and then explained to me how to use the place.

 There are two spaces. One is for men only, and the other is for women only. They are divided by a one-way mirror. Men can look through it. For women, it’s just a black glass wall.

 The male space is dark inside and has some stools. That’s all. It’s just a place to watch and choose women. On the other hand, the female space is filled with bright light and is equipped with mangas, magazines, computers or mobile chargers. It even has snacks and drinks. All of them are free of charge.

 If you want to talk with one particular girl, you tell the staff. They lead you to one of the four private rooms. In minutes, she walks in. You have five minutes to have a chat there. When a deal is done, you pay 2,000 yen to the cafe. All you have to do is wait outside until she finds you.

 When I first stepped into the male space, there were about 15 guys, who were talking in a group, using a smartphone, or just sitting on a stool and watching women. I found 7 women through the mirror, all of who were looking into their mobile phone.

 It was the first time for me anyway, so I decided to see how things were working there.

 From time to time, the staff walked in to say something to women and leave. They went out, and then came back. I guess it meant they talked with a man in a private room, but no deal was done. Each time a new woman arrived, the staff made an announcement. Men moved in unison to check her out. During around 30 minutes, 5 women came anew.

 What are talked about in the private rooms? Most solicit prostitution. I have no proof, but after talking with some girls, I got the impression that about half of them were workers for sex establishments.

 I met nobody who fascinated me. So I went out alone without buying anyone.

 The cafe conveyed a unique atmosphere where men have a choice and women have power of decision. It’s another way to have fun.

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