Apparently, Japan is going through a bit of a social craze right now known as “konkatsu” (marriage hunting). According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, marriage rates in Japan have plummeted over the past 30 years with the rate of unmarried men age 30 to 34 soaring from 14% to 47% and the rate of unmarried women skyrocketing from 8% to 32%. There are lots of reasons for the increase in singlehood — women are focusing on their careers more, traditional matchmaking by “neighborhood aunties” has started to fade away – but the authors of a new bestselling book, “The Era of Marriage Hunting” (think of it as “The Rules” of Japan) feel that this is a bad thing. They encourage singles to go on the prowl, to quit sitting around and waiting for the right match to come along, to get out there and hunt that spouse down.
As a result, many unmarried women in Japan have jumped on a “marriage hunting” bandwagon. Although, according to the article, the men are a bit more reticent about the whole business, thanks to the economic slump (men, traditionally, marry when they feel like they can afford it).
Where does the weird ticking bra come in?
Well, Japanese women aren’t the only ones to embrace the “marriage hunting” mindset (and not all of them have, mind you). Businesses have also gone ga-ga for the concept, primarily as away to boost their, if you’ll pardon the expression, sagging bottom line. There are konkatsu bars, konkatsu seats at the baseball game, konkatsu prayer services (for $62 a pop) and even a popular new konkatsu TV show. Local governments have also gotten into the act, promoting konkatsu matchmaking events, perhaps in hopes of boosting the country’s low birthrate (no marriage, no babies — eek!).
And now, there’s the konkatsu bra, a lovely piece of lingerie with a clock embedded into the lace, a clock that counts down to some kind of marriage deadline. According to the WSJ article, “inserting an engagement ring into the heart-shaped ring box between the cups stops the ticking and a congratulatory wedding march begins to play.”
No pressure or anything.
So I’m curious … what happens if no one inserts a ring into this urgent piece of underwear? Does the bra explode? Administer an electric shock? And if a woman gets married to the one (or “a one” which is much more likely when it comes to this kind of weird matrimania) and it doesn’t work out, does the clock automatically rewind? Does she somehow get back the “best years of her life”?
Just a bit of food for thought on this lovely Independence Day. And a reminder to enjoy yours while you can. (Need a primer in the joys of living alone? Check out my Single Shot column from last Fourth of July.)