If youve been Japan for more than 5 seconds and had any interaction with the opposite sex here, youll no doubt have already experienced some Lost in translation style mishaps from smashing against the language barrier and cultural differences. Japanese culture is at times pretty much the exact reverse of western culture. How can you tell if a girl/guy likes you in a country where yes can mean no? Or read peoples emotions where pretty much no-one wears their heart on their sleeve? And how do you interact with a nation of shy people who always seem to have their head down and nose buried in a book/iphone game?
Fear not, scratch your head in bewilderment no longer as myself, Grace (famous for her My Japanese Husband Thinks Im Crazy story) and Martin ofAsian Dating Monthlyhave put our heads together and distilled our combined two decades of Japanese dating experience to bring you these top tips, which will help you navigate the seas of romance in Japan.
This is T2 Shibuyas latest club (but not the easiest place to meet girls!)
Japan punts itself as being a very homogenous country. The vast majority (upwards of 90%, Id say) hardly have the opportunity to interact with non-Japanese unless they travel overseas. At the same time, like folks in most other developed countries, Japanese people have been inundated with media from America and are avid travelers.
They are equally interested in Europe, and other parts of Asia like Taiwan, Thailand and Korea. However, because so few foreigners live in Japan, their best chance of meeting one in their normal lives is if they get lucky enough to have a native English (or other language) speaking teacher in junior high or high school.
Many people will even go to English Conversation schools in the hopes of making foreign friends. As a guy looking to meet Japanese girls who are looking to meet foreign guys though, your best bets are what are called International Parties and Language Exchanges.
International Parties are parties organized specifically to bring foreigners and Japanese folk together and give everyone the opportunity to meet and interact in a safer environment than clubs or bars provide, and are much more relaxed events that are usually held on Friday or Saturday evenings, with some events earlier in the afternoon.
Many of the organizers also run other kinds of seasonal events as well. You can usually find the events by doing a Google search for Tokyo international parties, with events likethispopping up regularly, but it probably wont be long before you get invited to one via Facebook. Cheapos will be pleased to hear that many of them include a buffet which is almost worth the (typically around 2000yen) entry fee.
The other really easy way to meet Japanese girls is through Language Exchanges. These are one-on-one meets where you practice speaking Japanese with a native while they practice speaking English/French/German/Italian/Korean/etc with you. Not surprisingly, many Japanese girls/guys who are interested in practicing a foreign language are also quite interested and open to dating a guy/girl from that country.
Many times its a lot more like a coffee date than a language exchange. You can find a language exchange partner in the classified section of many of the local English language magazines and there are a few sites specifically for finding a language exchange partner, ormylanguageexchange.com. Also there arelanguage exchange groups on meetup.com, which are usually like a cross between language exchange and international parties.As usual, exercise caution when arranging to meet strangers via the internet!
With all the (bored?) housewives in Japan, apparentlyAshley Madisonis quite popular here. In general Im always reluctant to recommend online dating to guys (the statistical chances of success are usually terrible for the average man), however theres a few Japan focused dating sites where the interracial appeal may balance the odds a little, and of course theresTinder appfor some quick swipe action.
Photograph the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, wander around the curious and quirky love hotel hill, visit Yoyogi park and Meiji shrine…
For more detail and other ideas for meeting Japanese girls and guys in Tokyo that we covered in thecheap sexpost: matsuri (festivals), exhibitions, events and house parties.
A. English Lessons. Websites likeHello Sensei(etc) let you teach English by offering lessons under the table. You upload a picture, closest station, and price. About ⅔ of the men I teach English to dont ask for a second lesson once they find out Im married. Two other friends started dating guys they met at English lessons. Its like you get paid for short speed-dating.
B. Import shops. Men always seem to hit on foreign women at import stores.
C. Clubs. Be careful, most the guys you meet here are married (or otherwise taken) and just looking for the American experience (if you know what I mean).
D. Walk around Shibuya and make eye contact with men, trying to getnanpa-d. You would be surprised by how well this works.
Fun Cheapo Fact: In Japan its not uncommon for singles to spend hundreds of thousands of yen on konkatsu () or marriage hunting services! However we dont think you need to allocate more than a few hundred yen for your dating budget 🙂
Smiling works on Japanese girls (but this turned out to be a guy)
2. In Japan, Often Yes Means No, and Silence means Yes
Japanese tend to be very agreeable and dont want to rock the boat or make people feel bad/uncomfortable. As a result, a lot of times their communication can be unclear or vague. And in fact, this vagueness, or aimai in Japanese, is a well-studied trait in Japanese communication which is designed to be somewhat ambiguous to preserve the wa or harmony.
Japanese are especially uncomfortable with really assertive styles of communication and easily feel bullied, so will often seem to be saying yes even when they mean no. Youll commonly notice this with service staff who despite the rigidness of most Japanese systems rarely give you a hard no to any request. Theyll often resort to saying something like, That would be very difficult.
On the reverse side, you wont often know when you get a real yes. This comes through in dating because Japanese girls are really flaky and often cancel at the last minute. However, often times thats because you mis-read her yes as a no. This tendency is often infuriating for newcomers to Japan but with time, youll work it out. NB: In our experience Japanese guys are far less likely to flake on dates.
Japanese women tend to want to look, feel and be their best whenever they are on a date so expect cancellations when weather is bad or when shes in a bad mood, or tired. Of course you often wont know the answer, but always be prepared for the dotakyan or last minute cancellation, especially on first dates.
Theres a trick question I often tell my (dating) clients:
Q: When do you know if a Japanese girl will go on a date with you?
If youre a woman, you might have to suggest the first date. Men assume foreign women are more outgoing and direct (which sucks when you arent). Its ok to ask to hang out as friends knowing that yall are more than Just friends.
Approaching use a lot of facial expressions and gestures, be animated engagement without just language!
A really common mistake that most guys make when they communicate cross culturally is they think their subtle, razor sharp wit and wordplay will impress. Unfortunately, just getting the basic meaning across can be challenging enough.
You already know how important it is to keep communication simple, but in addition you want to make it interesting enough that even with no words at all, its worth paying attention to. You never know how big the language barrier is, and where exactly the gaps in vocabulary and grammar are, so let your gestures and facial expressions do as much of the work for you as possible.
Paul Eckmandiscovered that facial expressions for happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, disgust are universal across all cultures all around the world. Use this to your advantage to communicate more meaning by exaggerating your facial expressions.
Use gestures like a mime to act out what it is you mean as much as possible. Not only does it make the interaction more fun, but it means that shell have to work less hard to understand you and that means shell be much more willing to engage with you and to meet you again.
While Japanese society is relatively open about sex, it is still not usually an end in and of itself. For Westerners (minus a subset of Christian fanatics), its often the case that once a girl and a guy like each other, sex is a fairly straight forward proposition. Women are often just as interested in consummating the relationship as men.
Japan, despite is apparent modernity, is a traditional culture. There was no real sexual revolution with women burning their bras and demanding that they be able to sleep around freely without judgement. A lot of books, movies, and other media still give the impression that sex is just about physical release.
For some Japanese women, there is a divide between sex for pleasure and sex deployed for specific purposes, be it, locking down a boyfriend, satisfying the husband, or creating children. The role of sex has a lot to do with the relationship between the people involved.
In practice what this means is that just because a Japanese girl likes you, even if she likes you a lot, that doesnt mean that sex is in the cards and that certainly doesnt mean that shes going to make it easy for you. Liking a guy often isnt enough of a reason to have sex with him.
(For tips on maintaining your sexual healthread our guide on STI testing and where to get condoms/dental dams in Tokyo.)
Lead a lot more strongly guys always approach, girls wont initiate phone calls or messages etc.
Japanese girls will never call you, message you, ask for your number, suggest a meet, or do anything else that implies that they are interested in you other than be good company. Im exaggerating a bit, but the point still stands that if you expect those things, then many a Japanese girl will slip through your fingers.
In the West, dating is far more a mutual thing. Japan is still a traditional place and most girls would be embarrassed to seem obvious about their interest. Does this mean that youll have many a Charlie Brown and Lucy moment when youll go to kick to ball only to have it yanked away at the last minute?
But thats all part of the fun. Therell be another girl waiting for you to kick it just behind her, so dont worry about it.
Whilst back home you might be used cheeky and brazen getting you more smiles than just being a nice guy, The foreign gentleman is generally well received amongst Japanese women.
As a foreigner, one of the values you bring is that youre not Japanese. Surprise, surprise! But part of that, is the idea of Ladies First. Its dying a slow death in the West as pulling out a chair, or opening a door for a lady can be construed as telling her that shes not capable of doing it on her own. But Ladies First never really made much of an appearance here in Japan at all.
Men fawning over ladies is totally foreign to the Japanese female experience, and greatly welcomed. Many Japanese women take it as fundamental that men and women are different and rather than taking it as an affront, they take it as nothing more than a sign of attention and caring.
So break out all those moves your mom taught you when you were a kid that dont actually work back home. Japanese girls will be shocked and appreciative.
On the flipside, for foreign women in Japan the Japanese Gentleman can seem a very rare species indeed.
As a foreigner, you have some easy opening lines to start a conversation in pretty much any time or place:
How do you read this kanji?, showing smartphone to the girl sat next to you on the train/cafe
Asking directions to a famous landmark, the station etc
Asking directions to a specific (or invented) cafe/shop
Often youll find the person you ask will be happy to continue the interaction, and in the case of asking directions quite possibly take you all the way there.
Cafes are a great place to meet new people, especially ladies. Generally people are in leisure mode in cafes, even those doing some study or work, so its good place to catch people who have time for a chat. If there person next to you is studying English or reading an English language book, then thats a conversation just waiting for you to start.
Some peeps want a hot boyfriend/girlfriend to show off to their friends. Nothing wrong with this, just make sure yall are on the same page.
Cartoon from Grace get her My Japanese Husband Thinks Im Crazy bookherePhoto by Grace
Blame it on the weather cancellations from Japanese girls are common (if weather is bad, especially if shes a long way away)
Dont pay for the lady (Japanese girls are generally pretty wealth with their Louis Vuitton bags etc), so if youre a cheapo then save your pennies for your kids once youre married.
So for (guys) paying the bill, lead the way and just tell the girl what to pay for her share, e.g.
Give me 700yen if the bill is 1700yen.
And for girls, let your man treat you. A lot of Japanese men find it embarrassing to pay separately (especially if yall have been dating for a while). If you feel bad, you can try to slip them 1000yen (etc) later.
Offer to cook for them (pick up stuff at the import shop on sale, cook, and make something foreign)
Go to an expensive restaurant at lunch. Typically much cheaper.
Tell them you want to be a bartender and invite them over to your place for some exotic, foreign cocktails.
NB: Japan is a place where people dont often socialise at their own private home, so being at home with a date is a pretty strong signal that things could go further.
Nothing quite compares to a French cast iron skillet for impressing your datePhoto by Chris Kirkland
Rent electric bikesand explore the city together (let them be your guide)
Meet at a small, local park near your house (saves $$$ on train ticket)
Do an all-nighter at Round 1 (expensive, but lots of fun)
Pick up badminton rackets and/or frisbee and the 100yen shop and hang out at a local park
The 1st and 14th(only at Toho) of the month movies are 1,000yen, (here are some morecheap cinema tips for Tokyo)
Go toKaraoke on weekdays, during the day (cheaper than weekends & evenings)
Order a bento from a bento shop, bring a bottle of cheap wine, and have apicnic in the park
Go on a date on rowboats e.g. Ueno, Inokashira and park (rental is cheap)
French cafes and eateries will be considered romantic by Japanese
Check out ourevents pagefor more ideas and heres an article with some morecheap date ideas in Tokyo)
So there we have it, thats our top tips from Grace, Martin and myself have you any further tips, suggestions or different experiences? Please share in the comments.
And for further reading, check out our Cheap Sex article.
Chriss Tokyo favorites are:Tomoe SushiBorneUdagawa Cafe Suite
Dates, Dating, Dating In Japan, Featured, Japanese Girls, Japanese Guys, Love, Romance
Comments or questions? Start a thread on our community forum
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3 Responses to 10 Tips for Dating Japanese Girls and Guys
Um..wheres the rest of the information on dating Japanese guys? 1/2 the article was specific to Japanese females. Foreign women here want to get laid too you know.
Alas Grace didnt quite have as many tips as Martin and myself. But well see if we can get Grace, or one of some of our female authors to do a post just focused on meeting Japanese Guys, how about that?
Questions or comments about this article?Start a thread on our community forum
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