Japanese sign up for DNA matchmaking as country faces demographic crisis.
The scene resembles a typical blind speed-dating event: 13 women and 13 men, seated on either side of a bamboo screen in an upmarket Tokyo restaurant, are chatting in pairs on a strictly timed three-minute rotation.
But the doctor hovering on the fringes and the scientific documents held in the participant's hands, however, offer a hint that this is no ordinary dating event: for everyone attending has undergone a DNA test in a bid to find their best romantic match.
Welcome to the world of DNA matchmaking. Forget hobbies, professions, ages or nose sizes: one critical new criteria for finding the perfect partner was recently added to Japan's fast-paced dating world, with the launch of a new service that promises to find love based on genetic compatibility.
Created by the dating company Nozze., which operates 21 branches across Japan, DNA Matching works with scientists at a Tokyo laboratory in order to decode the science of attraction and find the perfect match for its clients.
The company staged its first "DNA Party" at a restaurant in Ginza earlier this month – attended by 26 guests and resulting in four new couples – with more events planned across the country, including a special DNA Cruise in the autumn.
Its launch is timely: Japan is grappling with something of an epidemic of singles who are unable to find a partner, an issue intrinsically linked to the nation's famously low marriage and birth rates and doing little to help balance the rapidly aging demographics of Japanese society.