Japan’s Buddhist Temples—The New Venue for Singles?

Buddhist temples in Japan—where people go for prayer, paying respects to the dead, and…singles parties? It seems so, as some temples of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism have now taken it upon themselves in the last few years to organize and host matchmaking events for interested singles out there.

The parties are along similar lines as the more informal Japanese “gokon”, which is basically a singles get-together, usually at a pub or restaurant, and typically has five guys/five girls. There are different kinds of gokon, but they are organized with the same purpose in mind—to be able to meet other singles and ideally find someone you want to date.

Matchmaking at many of the temples is organized by what they call a “Kichienkai”—“Favorable Meeting Club” in English—and these differ from most gokon in that they are usually geared for people seeking a long term relationship or marriage.


Temples that hold these events charge very little, usually enough to cover expenses, and the parties are no doubt a nice way to get small donations as well, which many patrons are probably happy to give, given the cultural practice at temples and shrines throughout Japan.

Starting at only US$15, the cheapest price per person for some parties, singles typically eat a traditional vegetarian meal together. Besides the meal, there are other activities to enjoy—maybe learning how to make prayer bead necklaces or perhaps a tour around the temple grounds. Depending on the temple’s location there could be quite a variety of diversions included. Rocket News 24 reports that some temples include cooking lessons and even ascetic training under a waterfall, to name but a few options out there.

In true Japanese fashion, if someone takes a liking to one of the other guests, the monks will function as a go-between, relaying one’s contact info to the other. After all, asking another adult for their phone number still makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

If such a structured party doesn’t sound that appealing, temples are also known to hold yoga classes and even small music events. Many of these events reportedly see anywhere from 30 to as many as 50 people signing up when each event roles around.

Perhaps these hip new Buddhist temples will see regular “business” from singles out there looking for something a little different than the usual. And with this shift, at least some of the temples out there seem like they are evolving from background religious fixtures to establishments that have, in their own way, adapted to modern times.

H/T: Rocket News 24


  • Maria Riley

    Sounds like an interesting way to meet people while enjoying time at a beautiful location

    • Peter Zhang

      Yeah, I’m sure quite a few people like going to these events simply due to the novelty factor of it all. I’ve visited some temples over the years but haven’t tried meditating under waterfalls- that would be cool!

  • rick sharp

    Pretty sure my pic is on the Blacklist.