Dating is hard anywhere. Why is dating hard for foreign women in Japan? Throw in a new culture, language, and country and BAM. You’ve got a recipe for confusion. In my experience, dating in Japan is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely attracted to Japanese guys! I think they’ve got great hair and eyes, and their culture is fascinating. I think I just wasn’t meeting the right guys because I ended up meeting a lot of toads. I think during my short time here, I would have loved to date a Japanese guy and see his country through his eyes. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t possible.
I read a post called Life and Love in Japan According to YouTube by one of my favorite Korea bloggers, Western Girl Eastern Boy. Her blog focuses on keeping it real (which I love) and the realities of life, love and dating in South Korea based on her experiences. The author of the post wrote about how many people took to YouTube to vent about their failed relationships with Japanese. To be honest, I know a lot of women who feel downright ugly in Japan and leave because dating is so miserable. They return to their own country where they have a chance at love and I don’t blame them.
In Japan, no matter how good your Japanese is, how many Japanese friends you have, or how well you speak the language, you will always be the foreigner. There’s a teacher at my school who is half Belgian and half Okinawan. He speaks perfect Japanese and English, and despite being very Japanese at heart, my coworkers still think of him as gaijin. Although the connotation has changed through the years for a less distasteful meaning, it means what it means. You are the gaijin, they are Japanese. You are the outsider. They are not.
I’ve had people disagree with me about dating being a game. That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinions. Every country has a dating game. They have their own rules, social cues, and expectations. Japan’s are a little bit different. I’m not an expert, but I think almost three years of observation has me qualified to know some things.
I’m not a mind reader or maybe I’m just dense, although dense seems to be the better of the descriptors for what I’m about to say. Group dating is more comfortable in Japan and Japanese men will approach you subtly. I feel super uncomfortable on group dates because a date should be in between me and the person I like and not shared with a bunch of people. After spending time with the person, a love confession means they want to date you. They send subtle signs like frequent texts or heart emojis. I.just.don’t.get.it. Is he sending this emoji because it’s common and cute or because he likes me?
2. The Collector
You know him, everybody knows him. He’s the in the know guy, the one who speaks great English and is surrounded by foreign friends. He’ll approach you easily and you have great conversation with him. Beware this type of man because he’s looking to add a new nationality to his “collection.” If you’re down for a good time, I’m sure he’s got some tricks up his sleeve, but other than that, not boyfriend material. He’ll leave you as soon as he sets his eyes on a new catch.
3. Free English Lessons
A couple months ago, I was looking for windshield wiper fluid at a Yellow Hat auto shop. Because I’m technology and car retarded, I asked one of the mechanics there for help. He put the fluid in my car and asked if I spoke English. He told me he was going to study abroad in Texas and asked me out to dinner. (Mind you this was all in Japanese.) I thanked him for his offer, and made an excuse saying I was busy. I’m not here for free English lessons. If he wanted to get to know because he thought I was interesting, I might have reconsidered. Since he didn’t bother to try to get to know me, I wasn’t going to bother with him either.
4. Real Life is not like the Mangas or Animes
Many people can get the wrong impression of Japan based on the entertainment. Sometimes Japanese manga and anime is a projection of unrealistic wishes. In shoujo manga, the boy is handsome, tall, and assertive to the girl he wants. She’s shy, petite, feminine and in my opinion, a bump on a log. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Do these titles ring a bell? Watashini xx Shinasai, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, Vampire Knight (main character was in love with her brother…gross) and Ouron High School Club to name a few.
Real life is nothing like what you see in a book or cartoon. Having the pleasure of working with high school students, I have many female students who are strong, open minded, and willing to learn about different cultures and the world. Knowing what I do about Japanese culture, this strong male character doesn’t work. Why? Japanese don’t like conflict and approaching someone can be scary especially outside their social group. Most high school boys are not fully grown and are still kind of short. For the most part, my students are really into sports, academics, video games, or trolling American Village. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, they do date. Yes, they do have their high school crushes and sweethearts (I know because they tell me in English and Japanese), but the girls are much more outgoing than the boys!
Manga is more of a projection of the inner wishes of many women. Aka assertive men. What I learned in Japan: don’t expect Japanese men to approach you because they won’t. You’ll make much more progress approaching them.
5. You are the X Box achievement level
Texan in Tokyo hit the nail on the head. Whenever she is asked by Japanese male friends to set them up with a Western female, they always say, “Do you have any American friends you can introduce me to?”
What they’re really saying is, “Can you please introduce me to a white, very attractive, skinny, fashionable American woman who I can meet up with once, and then use the photos to make my coworkers jealous?”
They don’t really mean, “I’m interested in learning about a new culture, and languages and broadening my horizons. Can you help me?”
She claims that a lot of her friends don’t pass the standards these salary men have solely on looks. Whenever she does find someone who “fits the bill”, they do a nomikai (all you can drink), exchange numbers, sleep with them, and never bother calling them back. They just want the American experience. All it does is leave a bad taste in your mouth, discouragement and a trail of broken hearts. To read the full post. click here.
6. The Japanese have a tough time meeting and connecting with others, so why shouldn’t you?
This is really sad, but a lot of my coworkers in their 30s look great, are smart, independent and beautiful women but are still not married. Meeting guys is hard for them. Why wouldn’t it be hard for western women? Why would there be a need for a rent a friend, if it was easy to make friends in Japan?
The blogger behind This Japanese Life writes a well informed and intriguing article “On Friendships in Japan.” Friendships are forged through formalities and to make friends, you’re introduced to other people. Making new friends requires a numerous amount of effort. Relationships, especially platonic work ones can be described as quaint and peaceful. Giving someone too much information about yourself gives them the power and in Japan, it’s best not to say anything at all.
Most friendships here are very surface level and that’s fine, but I would like to have a group of a few good friends or a way to connect to the cute guy at work that’s not the teacher party where I have to fend off the drunk gym teacher.
7. Sexless Japan
Yuta Aoki, an international Japanese guy who writes about dating in Japan, translates a survey taken on “Sex Statistics in Japan.”
On average, Japanese men in their 20s have sex about 4 to 5 times per month. Japanese women in their 20s have sex about 3 to 4 times a month.
The Sagami survey also concludes, Japan is an outlier when it comes to sexually active people in terms of developed countries. Which leads to the question as to why don’t these couples don’t want to have sex. Their reasons are: their partners don’t want to have sex, too busy or tired, or having children and family members in the house makes it difficult. Another reason they use is mendokusai which means they don’t dislike sex but they have to put too much effort in to do it.
Referencing the Durex survey again, about 20% of couples cheat. When asked where they met their extra-marital or extra-relational partner, the most popular places are: at work, school, or they started as friends. I feel like cheating is more common than this survey leds on and I wrote about Cheating in Japan if you’d like to hear some stories about my experiences first hand and hearing other people’s.
If you want to cheat that’s cool, but I have a Christian background and old fashioned views. I believe the marriage bed is sacred. Once you say, “I do,” it’s until death do you part. Maybe these “hopeless romantic views” aren’t up to date with 2015, but I still strongly believe in this. Because there is a pressure to work long hours and go out with coworkers, who’s to say that my partner wouldn’t be tempted to cheat on me with an attractive coworker?
9. Japanese guys are terrible kissers and bad in bed
This is just based on my experience, and I’m sure there are wonderful kissers and guys that are great in bed out there. However, I’m not the only one who has said this. Conversing with my girlfriends, we found that Japanese guys have a certain technique of kissing. I feel like it’s usually very slobbery and they move their tongues like they are painting the strokes for kanji. It’s gross. It almost seems like a sport and not very passionate. If any Japanese guy comes across this blog, I offer some great advice for you. Throw out the garbage those sex magazines teach you. A woman will kiss you they way she wants to be kissed. Follow her lead.
Yuta’s book, There’s Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories of Mixed Dating in Japan, discusses the disappointment of two women named Natasha and and Sandra who found their partners unsatisfying in bed. According to Yuta,
As a Japanese man, I can understand the technique-focused aspect. Call us geeky Asians, but a lot of information Japanese men receive about sex is technique. I noticed that a while ago, there was an increasing number of sex-related books in Japanese bookshops. Some were technique-oriented, and some took a more holistic approach, but men seem to be more interested in the technical aspects of sex.
The women who do date and marry Japanese men usually meet under certain circumstances. I find them rather common because I creep AMWF blogs in Asia. The Japanese men usually possess these qualities:
1. An open mind about the world
This is the guy who is interested and curious about what the world has to offer. He wants to know a world outside of Japan and is interested in foreign languages and not just English. This guy is usually pretty good and may or may not have been abroad.
2. The guy who has worked/lived/studied abroad
This coincides with the above. He’s experienced a different way of life outside of Japan. Most people that live in Japan could never imagine marrying someone from a different culture or race. The unknown is scary. While I understand where they are coming from, the differences are not so great they can’t be understood. Both partners have to be willing to compromise. This guy who has been abroad is open to different people. Another common circumstance is these women met their significant other overseas.
3. The guy who had love happen to him
This is the guy was hit by a train. Literally, the train of love. One day he was living his dandy life and then, “Choo choo, mother fucker.” The poor dude never even heard the bells. That wonderful train wreck of a woman turned his life upside down and that was it for the both of them.
I’m sure there are some outliers, but as far as I’ve seen there is no in between. Dating is hard. Dating can be exhausting. Looking or waiting for your partner can be depressing. Just remember. If love is meant to happen to you, it will. Love can be painful and blind, but most people want it because of the euphoria it provides to revel in the love someone has for you. Good luck.