Arama They Didn't

10:12 am - 11/26/2012

Otaku Masked Matchmaking

Self-confessed geeks in Japan who might ordinarily be too shy to ask someone out on a date are trying a new kind of matchmaking: wearing cartoon character masks.

In Washinomiya, a small town in Saitama Prefecture, 15 men and an equal number of women donned plastic masks of Doraemon, Mickey Mouse and other famous fictional creations Friday to try to find a date.

"I feel this is an easier way to talk to people," said a 27-year-old woman wearing a rabbit mask who introduced herself as Jet-Black Wings. "I wouldn't be able to do this without this mask. I would feel too embarrassed."

The party was organized for the benefit of "otaku" — those obsessed with high-tech products, manga and "anime" (cartoons) that spring from them. Otaku freely confess to being more at home with their two-dimensional heroes than communicating with the real world.

As well as boosting participants' bravery, the masked meet also ensured that people with similar — albeit rather particular — interests were able to meet each other.

The event was organized by Washinomiya's local chamber of commerce, which realized the value of otaku spending power when the otherwise unremarkable town in 2007 became a pilgrimage site for fans of the "Raki Suta" ("Lucky Star") manga, all clamoring to visit the place where it was set. An anime adaptation of the series was broadcast on TV that year.

"The direct economic effect from 'Raki Suta' fans is estimated to be about ¥100 million over the past five years," said Shinji Matsumoto, one of the event organizers. "We are really lucky that so many geeks visit our town. We want them to have a good time here."

By the end of Friday's event, seven male-female couples had paired up. A 33-year-old man wearing the mask of a villain from a 1970s TV show hit it off with a 26-year-old woman donning a Mickey Mouse mask. Both managed to continue smiling when they revealed what lay beneath the disguise.

"My heart was beating as I was taking off the mask," the woman said.

Asked if they planned to go on a real date, the man — who gave his name as Furuta Oribe, a 16th-century samurai and tea ceremony master — was a little unsure.

"I hope so, yes?" he asked, turning to his new friend. "I was really nervous. I still cannot believe this."

I find this oddly cute lol~

SOURCE: Japan Times
atelierlune 26th-Nov-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
I like this.
lolufailhard 26th-Nov-2012 04:18 am (UTC)
lmao this is actually really cute.
helios_spade 26th-Nov-2012 04:44 am (UTC)
I'd go!
coccinity 26th-Nov-2012 05:35 am (UTC)
in here for the LUCKY STAR mention! love that anime <3 i still rewatch it sometimes.
placetohide 26th-Nov-2012 10:28 am (UTC)
This made me smile :D
stole_away 26th-Nov-2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
I'd totally go for this
royu_kiyo FML26th-Nov-2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
If only I lived in Japan. I'd go to one of these events.
matchafrapucino 26th-Nov-2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
This makes me feel like a real jerk after realizing that looks are too high on my priority list to consider one of these events, lol.
inachan89 26th-Nov-2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
I also find it cute lol
ptimachan 26th-Nov-2012 10:16 pm (UTC)
awww this is so cute..^__^
neen_chan 26th-Nov-2012 11:49 pm (UTC)
This is rather cute.. <3
michasungbang 27th-Nov-2012 11:39 am (UTC)
omg so cuuuuute~! I wanna go these kind of events x3
urubaby21 27th-Nov-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
I agree, this is really cute. I'm kinda of shy with my feelings too, so this would probably be a nice thing to go to.
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