Fancy a Virtual Date? Go to Atami.

Only in Japan do these things happen. Now that statement might be false, but one thing I am sure of – going on a date with a virtual partner is quite extraordinary! You may have heard of the game Love Plus+ – a dating video game where you can find the partner of dreams (albeit a virtual one).

Created by Konami for the Nintendo DS, Love Plus+ quickly gained popularity in Japan and hit an all time high when a college guy actually married his virtual partner. Sad, I know, but it did push the game into the limelight. So, a year later, we haven’t been hearing much of the game (maybe outside of Japan) – until now.

In an effort to revive its declining tourism industry, the little town of Atami has “partnered up” with Love Plus+. This town used to be the destination of choice for honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway. Located in the eastern part of Shizuoka, Japan, Atami is known for its hot springs. Thanks to decreasing marriage statistics and increasing outside-of-the-country travel statistics, not too many couples head over to Atami anymore.

Enter the new breed of couples – one human, one virtual. Atami launched a campaign targeting male players (are there any female players? I wonder…) of Love Plus+. Believe it or not, the town has received LOTS of Love Plus+ guests.

It’s quite strange, actually. Young men go to the town and check into a hotel as if they had a real partner with them. Some would even go as far as to pay for two people. (Apparently, in Japan, the norm is to pay per person and not per room.) The business owners, naturally, indulge their customers. After all, these not-so-ordinary guests are breathing a bit of life back into their businesses. Here, take a look at a video report of what’s going on in there.

So guys, can’t find a date? Maybe you ought to consider taking these guys’ lead.

(I can’t help but add this question: How come I haven’t really heard of gals engaging in this sort of thing? Any ideas why?)

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