Dating someone initially is almost always awkward, especially if it’s a blind date. You would except that in Japanese society, which culture puts an emphasis on humility and submissiveness, the dating scene would be somewhat stagnant. In fact, the Japanese have come up with a system that outperforms any other in couples matching.
Who of you has ever tried to deliberately set two of your direct or indirect acquaintances up romantically? Right, all of us have. Then the idea of “Gou-kon,” literally meaning combined or merged companies, may seem painstakingly trivial to you at first, but hear me out.
Gou-kon is a Japanese group dating custom that involves a small gathering of two groups of people, an equal number of men and women (in the case of straights of course), usually taking place at a sit-down Japanese pub (“Izakaya”).
This assembly is not a random party; it is a premeditated plot. Gou-kon planning starts with a couple of people who already know each other, preferably from the opposite sex and single, and each of them gathers an agreed number of their single friends for a night out. The secret here is that it’s not a secret, but all the participants know that they are headed for a Gou-kon, and they want to meet new people for possible hook-ups.
The result is a large blind date, in which only the hosts know each other, and each of them only knows their side of the table. It’s taking two circles of people that are tangent at one point alone, and creating a third mutual area between them. The rest is taken care of by alcohol and great Japanese pub grub.
If you did not find a soul mate at a certain Gou-kon, it’s would not a big deal at all. These events are similar to business networking parties, in the sense that one contact leads to another until some partnership is formed. In the Gou-kon world, this means that the participants initiate new Gou-kon assemblies with their newly met acquaintances, and the networks expand exponentially.
What the Japanese have understood is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to meet new people, and that doing so individually may be uncomfortable. Their answer isn’t Facebook-stalking strangers on someone’s friends list. It’s Gou-kon.