Young men in Japan facing difficulties landing full-time jobs in these tough economic times are also struggling to find women to marry.
Single women say they prefer older men for marriage because they are more mature, are confident in making decisions and offer financial security.
Recent celebrity marriages involving much younger spouses have been in the news. But a small party one Friday evening in Tokyo's Ginza district for 10 people seeking marriage partners show the trend is spreading among ordinary Japanese.
The five women who attended were between 22 and 28 while the five men were between 35 and 48.
The age difference was obvious. The women wore miniskirts and had on fake eyelashes that clearly showed off their youth. The men wore attire that showed they put some thought into their choices.
One of the participants, Yumika Masuko, a 24-year-old dance instructor, said the men she knew who were of the same age appeared "childish" and not marriage material.
She also said older men were much more secure in economic terms.
Masuko exchanged contact information with a 44-year-old company employee.
"He was a good listener, and I felt he would help me make decisions on issues I was worried about," she said.
The man was obviously happy with the way things turned out.
"I was nervous at first about whether she would even talk to me, but it was refreshing and enjoyable conversing with her," he said.
The party was organized by IBJ Inc., a marriage information service company.
According to company officials, more women have begun looking for older men as marriage partners due to an emphasis on "economic security" and "dependability," especially with the recent economic difficulties and the Great East Japan Earthquake.