by Yuriko Takayama
1. Omiai is a meeting for an arranged marriage that is still common in
Japan. Thirty percent of new Japanese couples are married by arrangements.
Some of my friends also found their spouses by omiai.
2. When a Japanese girl gets old enough to be married, she gets her picture
taken by a professional photographer. Then the pictures are distributed to
her relatives or her father's acquaintances who probably could introduce someone
to the girl as the future husband. I went to a famous photo studio and got
my pictures taken wearing the Japanese national costume, the kimono. On the
day, I had a severe hang-over, so in the pictures, I was awfully angry. I
thought no one would want to see me.
3. Six months later, one of my father's colleagues brought me a man's
picture. I was 23 at that time, and willing to get married. I thought it would
be shameful if I got married very late or if I would never be able to find
4. Against my expectation, the man in the picture was, I felt, extremely
old. According to his personal history enclosed in the envelope with the photograph,
he was 32. Besides, the man had a B.A. degree and was working for a big company.
I hoped that his impression on me would change after I met him.
5. On a beautiful day in spring, my parents and I went to a hotel to
meet the man, Mr. H., who was already in the lobby of the hotel. He was a
fair, short man and looked exactly like the man in the picture. There were
my parents, Mr. H., his mother, my father's colleague who was the mediator
of the omiai, and I.
6. We six people began to eat lunch in the dining room of the hotel.
We ate very nice French dishes while the conversation was boring. I didn't
have to say anything because in Japan, girls should not be too talkative.
I only had to respond to some questions. For example, someone asked me if
I liked cooking. I briefly said that I liked it very much; however, I didn't
think I liked cooking "very much".
7. After lunch, Mr. H. and I remained by ourselves since we had no chance
to talk to each other during lunch. I did not want to stay with him, but it
was too early to go home. We drove to a quiet residential area, then went
into a cozy tea room in a cake shop. Mr. H. was a nice man with very sophisticated
manners. On the other hand, he was so conservative that I couldn't relax at
all. Finally, he could not find anything to talk about with me, so he drove
8. A few days later, my mother asked me if I wanted to go out with Mr.
H. again. She had to tell my answer to the mediator. Then, I said no. Usually,
if the couple sees each other again, and continues to do so, they would get
married soon. I met almost fifteen men by omiai after I had met Mr. H., then
I realized that I would never find my spouse by this system.
9. The arranged marriage is still an important part of Japanese culture.
These days, special agencies for arranged marriages are doing good business.
Computers and videos are used by both agencies and customers. However, even
now, most omiai are held by people who like to help the others.
10. I, myself, do not think omiai is an ideal way of finding a spouse.
On the other hand, omiai is a convenient and safe system, because by attending
omiai, young people don't have to wait until they eventually find the best
candidates to be their spouses.
1. Based on the article, what do you think are some characteristics of
the ideal husband in Japanese society?
2. What are some characteristics of an ideal wife?
3. Find two or three examples of traditional values in this essay.
4. Find two or three examples of modernization.
5. What might be some reasons why the writer was unable to find a husband
6. Do you think that you would be able to find a husband or wife through
omiai, or some similar type of system?