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U.S.-based online dating company turned to ritual prayers and a Shinto priest to help boost its business in Japan

Date: 2007-12-12

It is common for busy singles and their relatives to visit shrines to pray
for luck in finding love in a country where hectic lifestyles make it
difficult to meet potential partners. CEO Thomas Enraght-Moony and other company officials followed suit
on Thursday, visiting the Shiba Dai-Jingu shrine in central Tokyo to take
part in a private ceremony that included the offering of a sacred sakaki
tree branch.

In Japan, singles have warmed to online dating although it is still not as
popular as in the United States and Britain., part of Internet
conglomerate IAC/InterActiveCorp., launched in Japan in 2004 and now has
840,000 members. "For Match to be successful, one of the things that's
important is that I learn about the countries where we operate,"
Enraght-Moony said after the ceremony, held in an inner chamber with
gold-trimmed beams and offerings of apples and rice wine.

After the ceremony, he signed a huge wood prayer tablet in Japanese asking
for's 15 million worldwide members to find love, covering it with
red heart stickers.

More two-thirds of Japanese in 1935 had arranged marriages, in which couples
were introduced by family members or colleagues and tie the knot after just
a few dates, a government-affiliated thinktank says.

But those "omiai" marriages, in which factors such as a man's income and a
woman's upbringing were as equally important as their personal chemistry,
are now outdated and nearly 90 percent of Japanese find their marriage
partners on their own.

Today's singles are generally delaying marriage as both men and women opt
for carefree lifestyles, a trend blamed for Japan's rock-bottom birth rate.


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