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14-Nov-2015 08:51

One of these settings was the “Shibui” dance, run by a man of the same name.

For .50, young men and women could attend a night of dinner and dancing with the express purpose of introducing eligible bachelors to single young women.

This may have been a common story for heterosexual couples in America in the 1950s, but when LIFE dispatched John Dominis to capture love and marriage in post-war Japan, he found a landscape undergoing a significant transformation.

Boy and girl get married, buy a house and have (on average) 2.2 children.

Before the war, most marriages in Japan were arranged by the bride’s and groom’s parents.

Men and women rarely spent much time together prior to the wedding, let alone took part in anything that might qualify as “dating.” But during the Allied occupation of Japan—from the end of World War II until 1952—the ubiquity of the American soldier’s courtship rituals jump-started the Westernization of love and marriage in Japan.

And inside those movie theaters, American movies offered even more examples of Western mating rituals to a Japanese public at once hesitant and intrigued by the bold behaviors of their American counterparts.When Akiksuke brought Chiyoko to meet his family—after several outings to the beach, cafs, beer halls and department stores—his siblings welcomed her in ways that reflected the changing times.In his photographs—which never ran in LIFE—Dominis captured a moment when the new had caught on, but the old had not yet been forgotten.The young couples he photographed in 1959 were living on the edge of modernity, but still holding onto many of the the traditions long followed by their culture.

Upon arrival, new members bowed to one another and offered the greeting “yoroshiku,” described as “a very loose greeting which is used to fit any situation and in this case meaning ‘I hope I can find a mate among you.’” During dinner, partygoers were expected to “learn proper manner of eating western food.” If a young man found a young woman intriguing, he was not allowed to leave with her. Shibui, who would then arrange a date if the feelings were mutual.One young couple, Akiksuke Tsutsui and Chiyoko Inami, met when Chiyoko, who worked at a bank in the same building as Akiksuke’s father’s clothing shop, began frequenting the shop during breaks.