Online dating sites like Match.com don’t really have clear equivalents in Japan, at least not ones that people talk about using openly. Online dating is still less common here and even a little frowned upon. But thanks to the rise of social networks, especially Facebook, more people feel safe about meeting someone new online. Here are just a few social online dating services that leverage Facebook, in no particular order.
The company behind a site called 81 just announced that its total of registered users has exceeded 10,000, this just two months after release. My-Qpit lets users search for partners by age, occupation, and even by hobbies. By liking each other’s profile, two people can start exchanging messages on the app. After going back and forth twice, they can then check out each other’s real Facebook profiles. The site is popular with young women, and is free to use — but for men, it requires a monthly fee of 2,500 yen.
By looking at your Facebook social graph, MatchAlarm recommends a new person for you every morning at 8am. If individuals find each other attractive, they can start chatting within the app. Many online matchmaking services requires users to do the searching, but MatchAlarm takes away the hassle by doing the work for users. Users can check each other’s profile for a limited time, just until the end of the day (for 16 hours). It takes three coins (one coin is roughly $1) to tap on the ‘I might like you’ button.
MatchAlarm is backed by CyberAgent Ventures.
The word ‘Omiai’ refers to a Japanese custom where individuals are introduced to each other as potential marriage material. According to Omiai-jp.com’s Facebook app page, it is the biggest online dating service in Japan to leverage the Facebook social network. You can search for your ideal partner using 24 criteria, including age, nationality, income, personality, and more.
As with other sites, users can hide their Facebook identity until they feel comfortable enough to share with the other person. Omiai is free for women to use, and for men it costs 1,980 yen per month. Omiai is also available as an app on iOS and Android.
This one is also for individuals who are serious about finding a marriage partner. But Frigg takes a somewhat passive approach. After answering over 100 questions about personality, lifestyle, hobby, etc, the site recommends a match once per day. The site also allows users to choose non-negotiable criterias, such as no excess gambling or drinking. Instead of clicking through profile photos, the limited number of recommendations makes individuals extra cautious when before saying yes or no. Men can use premium service starting from 980 yen per month.
Pairs is an online dating site with over 150,000 members. With 950,000 Facebook likes, the site is very aggressive in its online marketing. Judging by the posts on its Facebook page, they appear to target men more than women. All identities are displayed by initials only, and nothing will be posted on people’s Facebook pages. You can set your preferences for your partner, and click through the options displayed.
On a related note, US-based dating site for people already in a relationship, Ashley Madison, recently made its official launch in Japan. It’s off to a good start too, acquiring 75,000 users in its first four days according to News on Japan. It will be interesting to see if that website will be accepted among Japanese people.
(Lead photo via Omiai)