Japanese women find their Valentine in Malaysia-Japan Dateworks speed dating
By Charlotte Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, NNA - For some, finding love is as easy as encountering someone special while picking a favorite read at a bookstore. For others more comfortable typing behind a screen, getting a partner can be a constant struggle.
The lack of human interaction in a busy world today has made it more difficult for people to look for a spouse. And worse still, fumbling for words to strike a meaningful conversation even with anyone.
Enters matchmaker Joanne Ng, whose mission is to help singles who are socially awkward or lack the opportunities to find potential partners. Even if it means having to go overseas.
The founder of three-year-old Dateworks matchmaking agency went the extra mile to bring 10 local men and an equal number of Japanese women together for its first international speed dating event on Valentine's Day in Malaysia.
The romantic setting was Mari Ristorante & Bar at the Old Malaya cluster of colonial-era shop house eateries set against the backdrop of iconic Kuala Lumpur Tower.
The 20 singles aged from 35 to 55 chit-chatted over a six-course dinner and played ice-breaking games. At the end of the fun evening, 16 found their match.
For some of the Japanese women, it was their first visit to Malaysia. Despite the language barrier, most of them felt the men were kind and understanding, giving them leeway to express themselves.
Some of the women came prepared, all ready to use a translation aid to overcome any communication barrier. One woman told NNA, “I am not good in English, so I used Google Translate and Pocket Talk. The men were kind as they spoke slowly.”
Some who were successfully matched were already considering settling down in Malaysia. But one woman would prefer her Malaysian partner to move to Japan. She said, “I like having four seasons and I love Japanese food, so I think it is difficult to live permanently in Malaysia.”
When asked the reason for arranging an international matchmaking event, Ng said love should not have any borders at all. “I have always wanted to open the door to other countries because we see more and more cross-country marriages.”
This idea resonates well with Yuka Yamada, a professional renovator who fell in love with Malaysia when she set foot here and decided to move to Malaysia. Despite language barrier, Yuka came to Ng and proposed the idea of helping Japanese singles meet prospective Malaysian partners last November.
The two women hit it off after two rounds of discussion, and within the next two months, Datework Japan was established to promote international matchmaking and widen opportunities for singles.
In fact, Ng was a founder of another matchmaking firm in Singapore before deciding to move to Malaysia to start a new service.
Yuka, who helps to oversee the Japan branch, has found Malaysian men to be gentle and warm, which are attractive traits to many Japanese women. Both women believe Japanese people would find living in Malaysia rather pleasant, and they in turn might like their friends to experience it too.
Noting that Japanese people have to live in structured hierarchies in Japan, Ng said they might find a welcome change in Malaysia.
“They love it when they see women can do anything they want here,” she said, hoping that more Japanese can experience the lifestyle and freedom in Malaysia.
While acknowledging that finding love is not an easy quest, Ng said some singles just want to stay at home on weekends after a work week.
She said, "Last time people would think that these people who sign up at matchmaking companies are maybe weirdos. In fact, it’s really a problem for a lot of working professionals. People are more open-minded now.”
Ng cannot guarantee that every date would be successful but stressed that the professional matchmaker can help singles improve on their chances.
She said, “A good matchmaker will look at who they are dealing with and also check the feedback of each date and sometimes we cannot be afraid to be blunt because we need to tell them what’s wrong.”
Dateworks uses a matchmaking software from Canada to narrow down profiles to find better compatibility.
On dating apps, Ng said, “I won’t say online apps are bad because people do find love there. But if you don’t have time to vet through profiles, then going to a professional is definitely the best."
Ng said there are opportunities to team up with agencies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, but will only look into expansion once she has a steady operation in Japan.