When I tell people I work in a matchmaking company, people immediately visualise either:

  • A dating app or website – a la Tinder
  • “Bespoke” style matchmaking – where members sit back and wait for agents to present them with matches that fulfill all their desires
    • While fully possible, this type of matchmaking is very expensive to execute as it involves a lot of time to search, present and vet potential partners.

      In such agencies, costs are offloaded to members through very high agency fees, which members keep paying over a long period of time before finding a match.

Hence, today I would like to breakdown the more popular “DIY” style of matchmaking that we do here at Destini IS, particularly the basic structure and rules involved as well as the rationale behind them.

This is how it works:

  1. Creating an online profile

    Why pay for marriage agencies when dating apps come free? Because the truth comes at a price.

    One big appeal of Omiai through agencies is that it offers the security of having detailed and verified client profiles. Almost all agencies, Destini IS included, require legal proof that you are single.

    No love scams, no fake degrees and no secretly married persons allowed.


    Profiles also include details that allow clients to infer what married life might be like. For example, Destini IS members get to know the income level and the family structure of their Omiai partner upfront, and hence can gain some idea of their possible future quality of life and care-giving obligations towards in-laws should they commit long-term.

  2. Searching for your match

    After all, who knows you better than you?

    Unlike the “bespoke” style, registered members search for their own matches from an online database of profiles – eliminating the risk of being recommended unsuitable or undesirable matches by agents. At Destini IS, since Omiai Arrangement fee is charged separately from the membership package, this also means that most members only pay for confirmed Omiai sessions.

    For those with fluctuating busy periods, it’s better to pay for Omiai a la carte and have direct control over how many and whom to meet, than to pay a higher membership fee for a fixed number of monthly Omiai with recommended matches.


  3. Meeting in an Omiai

    Protecting yourself in your quest for a partner 

    The two big risks when it comes to matchmaking are privacy and time/money. Given that you’ll be meeting many people in your search for that one ideal partner, you don’t want to risk unsolicited communications after a meeting that doesn’t go well, or spend too much time and money on each individual Omiai session.

    Hence for most agency-arranged Omiai, including those under Destini IS, the main rules are:
    No asking for contacts. No one’s agreed to courtship yet at the point of meeting, so this rule protects the Omiai participants from unnecessary pressurising and risk of unsolicited calls.
    No asking for identifying information, e.g. first names. Whatever happens in the Omiai, should end with the Omiai. (Unless you proceed to courtship of course.)
    No unnecessary time and money costs. The Omiai session is basically an hour-long conversation over coffee / tea – no food, no touching. Again, this is not a date so it benefits both sides to not make it too taxing.

  4. “Casual” courtship

    2 parts attraction, 3 parts sincerity and 5 parts initiative

    You would think that all is good once you’ve made it past the Omiai to courtship, but unfortunately many matches end in the casual courtship (aka “Friendship Dating”) stage…

    Unlike dating, the Friendship Dating period is not for you to slowly fall in love. Instead, it is for you to get a good grasp of your partner’s personality and hopes, and decide whether the two of you align enough and are attracted enough to commit. Hence you need a good balance of flirting and serious talk.

    Many Singaporean men make the mistake of “going with the flow” and not bringing up long-term commitments as it is “too soon” – this has the opposite effect of turning off Japanese ladies who think these men are not seriously considering them as marriage partners.


  5. Exclusive courtship / End of courtship

    In other words: “I do”, or “I politely prefer to not contact you again”

    Transitioning to serious courtship (or as we call it at Destini IS, “Steady Couple Status”) is a delicate affair. Given the accelerated pace of the Friendship Dating phase, many couples find it difficult to breach difficult questions (“when do you plan to propose”, “why did you divorce your ex-spouse” etc) that can make or break a possible engagement. This is where asking through the agents comes in handy.

    Once you reach the exclusive stage though, it tends to be relatively smooth sailing. Now is the time to cultivate good feelings, align expectations on the timeline to your wedding, and be excited together to build a new family and married lifestyle.


    For the less fortunate couples, us agents are on hand to reduce the anxiousness and embarrassment of rejection by being the bearer of bad news. It is also easier to be honest about the reasons behind rejection through a neutral third-party who can help to soften the emotional blow. Then it’s time to delete the old chats and contacts, and start over again.


As you can see, while the purpose of Omiai has remained much the same, Omiai has evolved from a rigid and traditional system to a more modern and efficiency-based system, adapted to the changing needs and sensibilities of people today.

Yes, we are way past the age of discreet portfolios collected by concerned parents that measure marriage-ability by child-bearing hips and number of educational accolades.


Thank you for reading, and do comment below on questions / topics related to Omiai that you would like to read about next!


About the writer

Sen is the sole Singaporean staff employed at Destini IS. In between answering enquiries, arranging Omiai-related events and programmes, and advising registered members, she offers the perspective of a 25-year-old married Singaporean Chinese female on issues related to Japanese x Singaporean international matchmaking / Omiai through blogposts.

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