The latest singles pick-up spot: Buddhist temples


Most people go to Shinto shrines several times a year, like for New Year or to make a special wish or prayer, like before a job interview. But with Buddhist temples, it’s usually just for tourism and funerals – not that frequently, basically.

But wait! Temples are transforming these days, more and more using their halls for activities such as yoga classes, group date venues (“gokon” in Japanese – group dinners with single men and women, seeking potential mates), and even as concert venues!

The idea to use temples as group date venues came from the observation that of the people who were showing interest in temples, there were both single men and women. Thus it followed: why not organize a place and time for these lovely people to meet each other and possibly put an end to their single stats?

Each group date event first follows a theme, or activity, such as doing “zazen” meditation, learning chants, taking vegetarian cooking lessons, doing ascetic training under a waterfall – the list gets more and more romantic, but we’ll leave you in suspense. At the end of the day, everyone gathers for dinner and drinking, and presumably to completely let loose after the shared experience – a pretty good idea, actually, considering the dynamics of bonding and relationship building.

These gatherings are attracting a hefty 30 to 50 people each time, every month in the Kanto/Tokyo region. What do you think? Ascetic chanting and meditation under the torrential flow of a waterfall sounds a bit stoic and dark, but with a group, it’s sure to be zany good fun.

Historically in Japan, temples have had strong ties to each families and villages, but in modern times, people only visit temples for the occasions of funerals and tending to relatives’ graves. More and more monks and temples are recognizing the need to stay relevant to the times, and are trying out all sorts of ways to attract people and raise interest. Temples are the new singles bar.


  • 3


    picking up women at places of worship? what's the pickup line, "I want to worship your shrine"?

  • 0


    Kind of ironic that they go drinking afterward having a date at a Buddhist Temple. Didn't Buddha suggest not drinking because it clouds judgment?

  • 0


    Some of those monks are hot too (well, if you like shaved heads and glasses), which helps attract the ladies. They've even got their own photo book (available from Amazon in Japan)...

  • 1


    looking for Nirvana? after a few drinks , I will take you there!

  • 0


    This could have been a nice article, but unfortunately there are no detailed info where and which temples. Any ideas where?

  • 0


    picking up women at places of worship?

    In Japan Shinto festivals are, or were, a major dating scene. In rural France (as probably in many other places), Catholic church seemed to have been a place for "talent spotting," and "hooking up" between men and women that are "good," relationship-rule-abiding, men and women. I knew a thoroughly modern Jewish lady that felt attracted to Jewish guys, good guys, upstanding guys, attendant at Synagogue. Numerous cults use dating as a way of increasing their membership. The late great anthropologist, Levi-Strauss, saw, I think, the "primitive" religions that he studied as the way, and under what rules and obligations, that women were "exchanged." That may sound awful perhaps, but it does not infer that only men controlled the religious "rules of exchange".

    One of the reasons why I don't enjoy atheism (true or not) is because of the need I perceive for a framework, a way of doing things, a bible or a praxis, for male female relations. Free love? "Love" itself? Are we lovers not keeping a faith? I do NOT mean to say that all atheists are doomed to divorce is hard. It seems to me that religion and male-female relations are inextricably linked. If I were a single guy (or girl) I think I'd feel attracted to a fellow temple visitor.

  • 0


    Probably the real reason is that less people aren't buying kaimyo so much anymore... and esp not the super deluxe versions.

  • 0

    Jay Que

    God, buddha and ladies work in mysterious ways.

  • 3


    God, buddha and ladies work in mysterious ways.

    Worship them and you'll have a happy life? ;D

  • 0

    Liberty Joe Lowe

    Sounds good, might meet a better class of girl there than some of the ones trying to trap me in the nightclubs of Roppongi!

  • 2


    Perhaps the ladies are really after the rich monks? Anyways, I heard Imado shrine has these events as well.

  • 2

    Alistair Carnell

    Do guys say, "Come and worship my little Buddha." ?

  • 0

    Patricia Yarrow

    Too funny.

  • 1

    Paul Kangas

    Worship my little buddha & you will come, & find enlightenment.

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