The Wall Street Journal has discovered a Tokyo-based real estate company that wants to help singles find love — by moving them into apartments with stripper poles.
Called konkatsu, or “marriage hunting” apartments, the spaces were designed by developer Rintaro Kikuchi. The homes are airy, with light wood floors, spacious rooms, balconies overlooking the city, and streamlined appliances.
Plus, the living room has a removable stripper pole (designed for intimacy or to keep fit) and a bathtub.
Kikuchi believes that tiny, cramped, and poorly designed Japanese apartments are the reason more young people aren’t getting married or meeting new people.
His homes, on the other hand, are supposed to make singles feel more open towards new encounters. “You can’t ignore sex and make a house,” he explained to the WSJ about his philosophy.
And it’s not just sex — intimacy seems to be the main goal of the konkatsu apartments. Aside from the stripper pole, the most important rule of his apartments is that couples need to have space to cook and bathe together.
The apartments are also soundproofed for privacy. One apartment is listed for 11.3 million yen, or approximately $US96,000.
Kikuchi built his konkatsu building and apartments back in 2010, around the time that konkatsu was becoming a recognised term in Japan. An abbreviated form of kekkon-katsudo and coined by two Japanese sociologists, the marriage-hunting trend has been a part of the national conversation since 2007 and began to be recognised internationally by 2009.
The movement addresses one of Japan’s biggest problems — that fewer young people are getting married, and they are getting married later in life, which translates to fewer babies being conceived (birth out of wedlock is uncommon in Japan).
In 2014, the CIA estimated that the national birthrate was 1.4 children per woman in Japan. This means that by 2060, the population is expected to go down by a third and by as much as 61% by 2100, according to Bloomberg.
But studies have shown that the low marriage rate isn’t from a lack of wanting to get married. A 2012 Cabinet Office study found that 70% of unmarried Japanese men and 80% of unmarried women in their 20s wanted to tie the knot.
Instead, the real problem seems to be about sex drive. The Japan Family Planning Association found that after interviewing 3,000 subjects, roughly half of participants had not had sex in the past month. Some excuses included that sex was “bothersome” or that couples were too tired after working all day.
That’s where the konkatsu apartments come in. Kikuchi’s homes are designed to make sex more fun and to keep things exciting, even after marriage.
“It has an impact on children when they see the relationship between their parents deteriorate,” he told the WSJ. “They don’t see marriage or making a family as something happy.”
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