A British news story purports that teens are hiding behind face masks “in order to retreat from society.” Blame is predictably cast on the economy and “social insecurities.” My favorite is the quote from the teen who claims to only take off his mask after running practice: “All I can say is that it somehow calms me down.”
My advice to anyone who wants “to look Japanese,” wear a face mask!
This image is priceless: it’s a “konkatsu bra” in which inserting a ring stops the marriage deadline countdown and plays a congratulatory wedding march. I love how Japan always introduces new sociological terms, and this one is a winner. “Konkatsu” is a combination of the words “wedding” and “activity,” and means “marriage hunting.”
In addition to negative reproduction rates, Japan also has remarkably low marraige rates: from 1975 to 2005, the numbers of unmarried people have risen 14% to 47% for men aged 30 to 34 and from 8% to 32% for women.
Sociologist Yamada Masahiro and journalist Shirakawa Tohko invented the term and sold over 170,000 copies of their book Konkatsu Jidai (The Era of Marriage Hunting). The authors believe that marriage must be actively sought. There are now konkatsu magazines, a television show, bars, shrines, and even a special section of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball stadium catering to this new goal.
Supposedly women are too busy focused on careers, while men are less aggressive because of money concerns and job insecurity. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, despite her failed efforts at marriage hunting, somehow imagines that “marriage is like permanent employment.” Apparently, women far outnumber men in “marriage hunting” events.
I find this term and newly defined phenomenon incredibly funny. Maybe Japan would have better luck with its marriage rates if it allowed and actively promoted gay, lesbian and trans marriage. Or maybe marriage is just not that desirable. My guess is that the government will next promote out of wedlock procreation. Gambate, Nihon!