Life in Japan

The Shocking Truth About Dating in Japan as a Foreigner

Ever wondered what dating is like in Japan?
Well, then here you go!

However, be warned: If you want to read about bragging stories of all those Western guys who get laid a hundred times per day, then you came to the wrong place.
There are tons of blog posts like that out there. You certainly won’t find that here – and not from a foreign girl like me! smilie

Before we start talking about “Dating in Japan” one thing should be crystal clear:

 

1. Dating is not the same for foreign women and men!

If you’ve ever been to Japan you might have noticed that there’s a tremendous number of (often not so handsome) foreign guys walking hand-in-hand with Japanese women. And at the same time there’s only a very tiny number of foreign (read: non-Asian) women with Japanese men next to them.

You might ask yourself why is that?
Maybe that’s a secret we’ll never quite get, but there are many theories!

A lot of Japanese women want a guy that tells them several times a day how much he loves them. For some reason (maybe through the consumption of too many Hollywood movies) Japanese women think that foreign men are like that! They’re not afraid of showing their feelings in public or telling their girls flat out how they feel about them.

Of course, having a foreign boyfriend is also “cool” and “exotic“. Some just use those poor guys as cute little “accessories“.
The extreme version of this is known as “gaijin hunter” and some will do everything for the sake of having one of those adorable “half”-kids (half Western, half Japanese) just to toss their foreign guy later on.

For foreign women it’s a completely different story.
Japanese men seem to expect certain things from a woman. Things that they fear a foreign woman would not agree to do (e.g. stay home, take care of the kids, always pour new alcohol into his empty glass etc.).
Maybe they also think that a foreign woman might expect from their man that he’s telling his feelings straight out several times a day, something a shy Japanese man just won’t do.

Another problem is that many of the Japanese men seem to be afraid of their English ability and thus fail to approach a foreign woman.
Most foreign men on the other hand, have no issues approaching a Japanese woman in English – or even in broken Japanese.

These are just a few theories by friends, co-workers and myself. I’m sure you have your own and there’s much more behind all this, but that’s it for starters, I guess.

 

2. Dating in Japan as a foreign man:

As a result, dating in Japan is usually quite easy for men.
At least getting one woman after another into your bed, is really easy, even if you’re quite ugly!
For some reason Japanese women seem to find even ugly foreign guys attractive …..

It might be a bit more difficult if you’re looking for a serious relationship as there are those women I mentioned earlier who either want you as “exotic accessory” or just want your DNA to create a cute “half-child”.

All in all, it is comparably easy for a Western foreign man to find a Japanese woman or to have a nice relationship here in Japan.
For some guys it really gets to their heads and they start bragging about it like crazy as part of the superstar syndrome.

 

3. Dating in Japan as a foreign woman:

The complete opposite is the case for (Western) foreign women in Japan.
Japanese guys are often too shy, scared or whatever and the majority of Western men is only interested in Japanese / Asian women.
As a result it is extremely tough to find a date as a foreign woman here in Japan.

It is by far not impossible and I know quite a few girls who don’t only have a Japanese boyfriend, but are also married to a Japanese man, but it is still the BIG exception!

Some of us will go through a hard time here in Japan.
You’ll start to feel completely unattractive and ignored at times.
Of course, you get a lot of attention and there’s all this staring, but it’s not because anybody is flirting with you … or at least you don’t know the difference anymore.

It might be a different story in bigger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka with a more international community, but in smaller cities and in the countryside with more traditional ideals it can be very difficult for foreign women.

 

4. Differences in relationships:

I personally know a few couples where either the man or the woman is foreign and I noticed quite a lot of differences in the kind of relationship they have.

Please note that the following is based on my personal experience and that not everybody out there is like that.

 

Foreign man, Japanese woman:

In relationships where the man is foreign I noticed that they mostly speak his native language. Although they live in Japan and sometimes even have children together who also speak Japanese, the foreign guys don’t / can’t speak Japanese.

I also experienced that they’re unable to do anything on their own. When I ask them about how they got their cellphone or credit card they just answer they don’t know because their wife did it for them. smilie
Consequently they don’t see the need to study Japanese, because their wives will take care of it all.

One big problem seems to be the fact that in Japan the man earns the money, but the woman takes care of it! The man only gets a small allowance every week or month and needs to ask his wife for permission if he wants to spend any more of his own hard-earned money! Foreign guys often seem to struggle with this system.

Because of  all that I’ve seen couples who got divorced, even when there were kids involved. I noticed that those kind of relationships seem to work out better if they live in his home country and not in Japan.

 

Foreign woman, Japanese man:

For the opposite constellation you’ll see that in most(!) cases the woman speaks Japanese. She has studied Japanese properly or puts in a lot of effort to improve her Japanese ability even if the Japanese man can speak her native tongue.

They know how to survive in Japan even without the help of their husband / boyfriend who is at work most of the time anyways.

The man seems to accept that she wants to keep working even after marriage. Most of the time those kind of Japanese men who get into a relationship with a foreign woman are more open-minded and have some experience with foreign culture because either they’ve lived or studied abroad for a while. And even those who haven’t seem to accept that there are cultural differences and they don’t expect the same they would from a Japanese woman.

All the couples I know of have a relatively harmonic relationship. Of course, there are enough reasons for disputes, but all in all they seem to manage better than couples where the man is foreign.

 

5. Conclusion: Dating in Japan

There’s so much more that could be said about this topic and I’d love to discuss it with you some more.
I’m sure everyone has their own opinion and experience with this!

All I want you to keep in mind is that as a guy you should not let it get to your head because suddenly you get all this attention from beautiful women.
And as a foreign girl you should keep in mind that your time in Japan – at least in terms of romantic relationships – could be quite lonely at times.

Read on:

 

If you still want to read more, here are some great books on “Dating in Japan”:

 

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368 Comments

    • That’s actually a very good question.
      My personal experience was that each and every Western man I met in Japan was either already with a Japanese woman or was interested in finding one.
      At some point, I just accepted it as a fact.

      For me it never mattered if a guy was Japanese or foreign as long as we would get along.
      And I’m quite sure that there are other Western women in Japan who feel the same.

  • I soooo can relate to this article!
    I met quite a lot of japanese guys, but they usually weren’t really serious which made me quite sad.
    A (male) friend of me came to Japan too one year after he heard from me from the Working Holiday and while my time went up somewhen without being able to get married he found really fast a girl who would marry him. He also couldn’t speak any Japanese at all and when he came to Japan I helped him with finding things, getting a suica, getting a mobilephone and so on. And when I asked him where he found her – online or offline – he didn’t even remember this! He told me that he dated so many japanese at that time that he really doesn’t remember anything.

    Well, I had to go back to Germany somewhen and searched online again for someone to marry, I also found someone, but…. when I went to Japan again and we first wanted to try living together before marrying it was so lonely that I went back to Germany after three weeks. Because in this three weeks I was like always alone in his house seeing him only for a short time in the evening or not at all, because he was staying usually at this company or at his parents house. In that three weeks he only slept two times in the same house with me and only once in the same room. I thought this is really weird. Especially because we were supposed to be in love and he actually wanted to marry me?!
    Well, I could have lived with that, BUT I also wasn’t supposed to leave the house alone. Not even for going to the conbini or whatever and buying my daily needs. So I was just sitting aroudn everyday and everyday and after three weeks I thought, no, I really want to stay in Japan, but not like this and just left for the airport.

    Last year I met another man online, we fell in love and after he went to visit me in Germany he wanted me to come to him to Japan and marry, but… I already had a bad feeling when he was here and I was right (and my mom too). It seems like this guy had a big dept and wanted me to come over there and marry me so that I can go and work and help him pay his dept.

    By now I’m not too sure about marrying a Japanese man anymore, but we’ll see…

    • Hi Flamara,

      You are absolutely right. That is me. I’m glad to hear you read it back then and also got to go to Japan. ^^
      (Sorry had to erase that part for privacy reasons. :D …)

      I’m sorry to hear that you had so much bad luck until now.
      To me it sounds extremely weird that he would get a foreign girl to help him pay off his debts.
      Wouldn’t he have a greater chance with a Japanese girl who doesn’t have to worry about a working visa, who speaks the language fluently and has more job options?
      Very strange.

      Maybe destiny is telling you that it shouldn’t be a Japanese man after all?
      Either way, good luck to you! :)

  • I really think that every relationship can thrive and develop harmoniously as long as both compromise and listen to his or her partner’s desires and needs. You two really worked hard at it. Very inspiring !!!

  • Totally agree, as foreigners who are visiting Japan I also feel there is a different between tourist arrivals and also a native of Japan, honestly I have an Asian face as they (didn’t mean to be racist).

    The first impression I expected the first visit is their culture, as I watch on several “anime” which in my opinion. It’s exciting, but of course that’s just my expectations LOL

    Thank you for great article, it is fun to read XD and sorry for my English since it’s not my mother language…

  • And then there is the case where it is the total opposite. I’m a Caucasian man, been living in Japan approx. 8 years, married to a wonderful Japanese woman, have kids and speak mostly Japanese with my wife. Same goes for my friend who is married, has kids and speaks fluent Japanese.

    My co-workers are two Caucasian women from the US and England respectively, are in a serious relationship with a Japanese man and there Japanese is almost non existent.

    I need to add that both, my and my friend’s wife are fluent English speakers.

    So I don’t know if this article makes any sense.

  • Don’t believe the hype and the stereotypes. I am a western guy early forties and have lived in Japan/Tokyo & Kyoto for 15 yrs. I speak fluent Japanese. I work for myself as a architect because I cannot stand the Japanese corporate culture – but I have them as clients. I am 6’4″, blondish with a bit of silver and quite fit. Think of the Aussie blond beach guy but with education and culture and that is me.

    Not boasting, but picking up a Japanese lady is pretty easy, but here’s the catch. Most just want either my DNA, my money or both. I have been in 3 relationships (never married) over the past 12 yrs or so, but 5 years ago after the last break up I made a pledge to myself to NEVER get into a live in relationship with a Japanese girl again. Why?

    The first year is great. Awesome sex and heaps of fun with a hot Japanese cutie. The second year is about getting to know each other a lot more but by the 3rd year the pressure kicks in to get married and have kids. Also every Japanese girl I have ever known becomes a control freak or worse…wants to audit my bank account every couple of weeks. Also ALL Japanese girls I have been in a relationship with use emotional blackmail and sex as a power/control mechanism over you.

    I love Japan and the Japanese people and I’ll always respect their culture. Japan has made me rich but I had to really fight to keep my money, cars, art and properties after the last relationship ended. She thought what was mine was hers also… arrrhhhh no it aint honey. If you want a successful and rich life (money but also having great people around you), you have to treat people with respect and value them for how they enrich your life.

    My advice to Western guys wanting a cute Japanese hottie is to approach with caution and never commit to anything when you’re in bed with your Asian dream-girl. You and your wallet will regret it.

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