Westernisation and the increasing independence of women led to a marked decline. By 1990 the proportion of arranged marriages is thought to have fallen to around 30 per cent of the total.
But things changed in the after a swathe of the country was devastated by the tsunami and earthquake.
“People felt so lonely in the big cities,” said Sasaki Akiko, a tour guide.
“After the earthquake, there was no public transportation and people had to walk up to 10 hours to get home.”