I attended my first, true, Japanese ‘compa’ a few weeks ago. I had heard about the compa, in which a group of guys, and a group of girls who don’t necessarily know each other, get together over dinner and drinks for a speedy match making session, but this was the first time I was able to attend one myself.
From what I had heard, the closest thing we have to a ‘compa’ in the states is a blind date, however, those are usually one-on-one from what I can remember.
I was invited by a Japanese friend at work, and that friend also invited one of his lady friends from another company. True to compa tradition, my friend invited 3 of his guy friends, and the girl that he knew invited three of her girlfriends to the event.
The party was scheduled to start at 8:30pm, the girls arrived at 9:00pm. I was told this is a normal thing. The slackers. Everyone arrived, and the seating was carefully arranged such that a guy and girl were facing each all the way down the table.
The evening started with a ‘kampai!’ (Glass clanging ‘cheers’ in Japanese) and then self introductions that felt strangely similar to the opening of a job interview. After the introductions were over, ‘free talking’ time began, and we were able to explore each others personalities as we wished.
After some time, we had a ‘sekigae’, a seat change, we all got up and switched seats, so that we could all have a chance to talk to as many people as possible.
At the end of the party, one of the guys in the group was assigned to organize the next gathering, with the same members if possible. Eventually the hope is that we will all become great friends and start dating or something.
The whole thing felt a little bit too forced for me at first, but, I can understand how kompa could be necessary in Japan. Even though Tokyo is an incredibly populated city, I would venture to say that it is very rare for Japanese to speak to strangers. Even if there is a rare event where two strangers meet, I would say that the chances of them meeting again are slim.
The kompa allows friends to be made, and helps protects young women from the dreaded ‘omiai kekkon’ (arranged marriage).
I wanna go again.