Last year, a government study found that roughly 40 percent of single Japanese men and women in their 20s and 30s are uninterested in the practice of dating, deeming relationships “bothersome” and unnecessary in the modern age.
"It's too troublesome," Satoru Kishino, a Japanese man in his 30s, told the Guardian back in 2013. "I don't earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don't want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage."
Though there a number of societal issues for why Japanese people are turning away from relationships ("Marriage is a woman's grave," an old adage goes in the country), men like Satoru may now have a way to avoid the often stigmatic practice of eating alone without going out on a date.
At Sasayama, a ramen chain in Osaka, a bowl of hot noodles now comes with a side of virtual reality.
In the video above, Ku-chan, one of the group’s members, can be heard saying “Itadakimasu!” before blowing on a clump of hot noodles. The phrase—meaning “I humbly receive” in English—is often said before meals in Japan, and Ku-chan proceeds to offer her “date” some of her food.