I admit there was some personal interest when I volunteered to cover the praying/speed-dating event at a shrine in Tokyo recently. I wanted to see what a matchmaking event at a shrine involves and who would attend.

I did not expect, though, that I would actually get involved.

A group of 14 women and 14 men gathered at Imado shrine in Tokyo, which honours Japan's indigenous Shinto gods of marriage. The participants varied in age and occupation, but had one common goal -- finding a good marriage partner.

"We said it's up to the gods now. If we go on as we have, we probably won't ever meet anyone," Rie Suzuki, a 40-year-old attending with her friend told me.


The event, which combines praying with speed-dating, is aimed at marriage and the economic stability it could provide, as singles actively seek a partner through "konkatsu," or spouse-hunting.

Such activities range from dating websites to participating in events like "grass-mowing for singles". Imado Shrine's two-hour, $65 event, is also on the list of some marriage-hunters.