A Japanese city that is encouraging single people to look for love by writing old-fashioned letters instead of turning to apps has seen a “surprising” level of success.
The southern Japanese city of Miyazaki launched the campaign to get people searching for romantic partners by putting pen to paper two years ago in an effort to boost low birth rates.
Since then, 450 people have signed up to take part in the project, more than double the local authorities’ initial estimates.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), around 70 per cent of applicants are in their 20s and 30s.
The campaign has been such a hit among young residents that its organisers are planning to expand it to people who live further away.
Rie Miyata, head of a local consulting firm that was commissioned to run the campaign, told the publication that writing love letters may take longer than online dating, but it “inspires you to imagine the person you’re in communication with”.
“It’s less about how good your penmanship is and more the fact that you write every single character sincerely and with care, thinking deeply about the person you’re writing to.
“That’s what makes letters so powerful,” she added.
Anyone who applies for the programme is screened by Miyata’s team and then paired with potential matches based on information they submit about themselves.
This can include what their favourite films, books and sports are.
However, potential suitors are only given the age of their new pen pal. Identifying details such as their full name, job titles and where they live, as well as their profile pictures, are not revealed.
This is because a person’s appearance is “often a decisive factor” when dating, but in letters, “you are judged by your personality”, according to Miyata.
The letters are sent to the organisers, who scan them to ensure they contain no obscenities or insults before sending them to the destined recipient.
Of the hundreds of applicants, 32 pairs have organised in-person meetings and 17 couples have started a relationship, it was reported.
It comes as Japan confirmed a record low of 811,604 births last year, with the number of births in 2021 falling by 3.5 per cent from the previous year.
The country’s birth rate has been falling for several years now and is expected to fall below 800,000. The total fertility rate, which indicates the number of children a woman will, on average, have during her lifetime, fell to 1.30 in 2021, 0.03 points down from the previous year.
The Japanese government, as well as local authorities, have set up a raft of matchmaking schemes to try and boost the birth rate.