Nikukai, meaning “Meat Meeting,” is more innocent than the translation makes it sound: It’s an app designed to get groups of men and women together for Korean barbecue, which is popular in Japan.
Founded by Haruka Ito, a 28-year-old Keio University graduate, blogger, and author, the site is inspired by gokon, the Japanese tradition of group blind dates, where men and women who don’t know each other meet to socialize in hopes of eventually pairing off.
“To us, female insight and comfort is really important.” In Japan, it is customary for men to pay for their dates, as Pairs’ male users do.
The company’s bridal marketing sends another message, less progressive and increasingly less American: dating means man plus woman. “We have had a few users ask us if they could have that kind of feature,” Kawashita says when I mention the exclusion might be controversial in the U. “It’s not that we don’t want to, just that it’s still very few, so we haven’t focused on that yet.”Cultural differences are the reason many Western dating sites have failed in Japan and in Asia, Kawashita says.
Onuki was 15 when he had his first experience with online dating, getting together with a girl who he’d met on a gaming site. “We met at a coffee shop, and right away she started talking about sex.