Life in Japan

The Shocking Truth About Dating in Japan as a Foreigner

Ever wondered what dating is like in Japan?
Well, then this post is exactly what you’ve been looking for!

However, 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:

 

Dating Experience is Different 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 moms, 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.

 

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. They suffer from the so-called superstar syndrome.


 

Dating in Japan as a Foreign Woman:

For (Western) foreign women in Japan it’s a completely different story.
Japanese guys are often too shy or even scared 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 guy, 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.

 

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. Just one example is a co-worker of mine. When I asked him how he obtained his cellphone or credit card, he said his wife did everything for him. smilie
Consequently, a lot of foreign men in Japan don’t see the need to study Japanese, because their wives will take care of all the important things.

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. He actually needs to ask his wife for permission if he wants to spend any 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 kinds 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 Japanese partner who is at work most of the time anyway.

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

 

Conclusion: Dating in Japan

There’s so much more that could be said about this topic. I’d love to discuss it with you, so get involved in the comment section below.
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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375 Comments

  • Having been born and raised in Vancouver, I had a girlfriend at one time who was Thai, another who was Japanese. LOTS of young couples in Vancouver are a guy from Vancouver plus a Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese, etc. wife, very often the two of them pushing a stroller. As couples they’ve always struck me as intelligent, mutually supporting, loving with each other and especially loving of their kids. There are probably unhappy examples around but I never saw any.

    My Thai girlfriend had lots of problems, with drugs ‘n’ alcohol ‘n’ the bar scene at the top of the list. She got so out of control that she became estranged, from both me and, more importantly, her family. Her being Thai had nothing whatever to do with her problems, however. LOTS of young people, girls especially, begin acting like a kid in a candy store in Vancouver. In fact, I would characterise Vancouver as the home-wrecking capital of the world.

    My Japanese girlfriend came with a whole other set of baggage. She was very uncomfortable introducing me to her family, and this didn’t change, no matter how hard I tried to adapt to her culture. She and her family would speak Japanese in front of me, cutting me out of the conversation, and when we went out, to Japanese-speaking, say, restaurants, she did her level-best to keep me as silent as possible. She would flinch whenever I tried in those situations to speak the language. I was never able to feel, at any time, that we were 100% together, which very often left me wondering why we were together at all. I’m sure the problem(s) were simple: it’s just that, for whatever reason, she refused to get them out in the open and deal with them.

  • Everyone relies heavily on their network of family and friends to validate their relationships, especially females, regardless of culture. In Japan, there is extreme emphasis on harmony with one’s social network. I think that if we are candid with ourselves, we have to admit that validation by our social network (is the s.o. “hot”? “Solid?” “Trustworthy?”) is paramount to our assessment of our prospective partners. In Japan, harmony with one’s social network is a paramount value, grounded deeply in the literature and culture and repeatedly hammered home in NHK melodramas in case anybody missed the point. That explains the confusing fascination and repulsion of the foreign in the eyes of Japanese people. The fascination is really natural and comes first (it carries a an almost inconceivable cachet of freedom and self-regard), but then assimilation through the social network comes second. If you have the credentials, the second phase is easy enough, but charm alone won’t pass.

    Here are two words of advice, from someone who has been married to a Japanese wife for 25 years.

    First, don’t confuse the social relations and social pressure with personal character and blame your significant other for them. Living as a foreigner in Japan is not the same as living as a Japanese person in Japan. The latter is much tougher. By even dating you, your s.o. has already gone headlong against the system and will necessarily end up under extreme pressure. Marriage has traditionally been conceived as a solution to a complex social equation, in which personal fulfillment of the spouses is not a relevant variable. So don’t blame him/her for the residual feedback that comes back to you from the network. Your s.o. is just asking for some good responses to send back, in case he/she hasn’t thought of them yet. That’s manageable if you understand that the nonsense is not your s.o.’s own idea—and if you have a good response. I am particularly concerned about the comments that Japanese s.o.’s are not interesting. Japanese people are really caged and constrained by social norms. To survive, they harbor secret, extreme enthusiasms. You have to search for and encourage them.

    Second, if you want to be processed successfully through your s.o.’s social network, spend more time in graduate school than in the bars, and you will do just fine.

    Finally, a mild remonstration. Although this blog accurately reflects the realities faced by Western foreigners in Japan, I feel that it is too unflattering to the Japanese. Yes, Japanese society has its traditional features, but most of the world is far more traditional. Only northern northern Europe and America and Australia stand out as sparsely populated outliers. And the Japanese concern with social harmony has arguably transformed western capitalism into a more benign market system worthy of our attention. I can say that I have visited every prefecture of Japan and have never seen a slum. The farther you go from Tokyo and Kyoto, the better it looks. People are polite and helpful. Then don’t steal. There is a deep, medieval concern for integrity embedded in their business practice. There is much to admire. If landing a cute date is more difficult in such a culture, maybe that is not the worst thing one could say of it.

  • My fiance (a Japanese man) kind of takes it for granted that I’ll do a lot of things that Japanese women normally do for their husbands, even though it’s way harder for me (a pretty decent but still non-native speaker of Japanese) than for him. Things like making dentist appointments for him, going to city hall to submit official documents, setting up direct with-drawl payment of our gas bill from my bank account, etc. Neither of us really manages the finances; he pays rent from his bank account and I pay utilities and food from my bank account. Sometimes when he needs to pay some kind of special bill (his automobile tax, for example) he’ll give me some cash and have me go do it. But the reason he has me do all these things has very little to do with traditional gender roles or anything, it’s simply because he works until late at night and everything’s closed by the time he gets home. I get out of work at a reasonable hour and can do stuff after work before everything closes.

    • If you were single in Japan, you’d have to do all this stuff on your own as well.
      I think it’s much better than the situation of some of my previous male co-workers. They couldn’t do anything on their own and had their Japanese wives do everything for them.
      If they ever broke up, they would be completely lost!

      Yeah, working hours in Japan especially for a “salaryman” can be insane. *sigh*

  • I think the author is over complicating the issue. The simple fact is that women in the west are coddled much like men are here in Japan. In the west, men open doors for ladies and hold them on a pedestal while the men are expected to carry the load. The contrary is true in Japan. The men are coddled, glorified while the women carry the load. It’s simple psych 101, Spoiled brats don’t match up well with spoiled brats. My wife is Japanese, she has “half-kids” as you flippantly remark. When will she dump me? been married 17 years, goof ball. Modern up please. Your generalizations are really out dated.

  • As a foreign men lifing in Japan I want to give my personal impression about this topic.
    A little bit about myself (needed to understand the situation). Male :P 30year working as a mechanical enginer in the technical costumer consulting area. For some strange reasons I was washed on this shore.
    My experiences when it comes to date japanese woman are kind of different from the one you can find in the internet.
    I was 2 times in Japan. First in my time as university student to learn japanese. And now a small pice of the workforce.
    Let`s start like this: When it comes to dating japanese it`s quite disappointing. (I had realtionships with different woman around the planet, Swiss, Turkey, German, Russia) but Japan is so much different. In 6 month I went to countless dates with different woman but nothing more. It`s very easy to find dates in Japan, thats for sure. But the structure is in 98% like this: you going out having fun talking (or not…happens in 40% the cases). You write daily and go to a secound date. And that it. After approximitly 2 dates the contact ends. You can try to reach them but if you lucky you get some answer like “sry the next month work is very busy…”. Even when you make a date 2 weeks ahead you can be sure that 2 days or 1 day in advance you get a chancalation. This also happend serveral times.
    On the other hand it`s quite hard to find a topic you can speek about. If you don`t have very intense simulare hobbys you can talk about, it will get quite fast. On some dates I found myself trying to find a topic both can talk about for the complett time. When I comes to talking the main topics are food, weather, work,…or most worst old relationships . Trying to talk about more difficult topics is impossible. Also dates at themself are quite boring. You will walk around try to talk and looking for the next place to eat.

    Also some tip when you on a date: “Don`t speak japanese!”. This sounds funny and is not what you would aspect, but as a foreigner speaking fluently japanese your chances with women decrease rapadly. The couples I meet are often like this: woman japanese, men english speaking (can`t speak japanese often at all). I speak japanese without accent fluently and this seems to disturb japanese. I get the impression there are not used to the fact that a foreigner can speak japanese fluently and without some accent like in the television.

    long text, shore resume:
    – As a young university student japan is fun as much it`s get, go to japan for a limited time when you are young.
    – If you looking for a long time realtionship (maybe with family) …. no … look at your simular culture cycle.. this is quite hard. -_-

    Sry for this negative comment.

  • This article gives you an idea what world women live in.

    ►”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”

    ►”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.”

    ►”You’ll start to feel completely unattractive and ignored at times.”

    They sit there making fun of insecure men and the moment they’re faced with similar circumstances/dilemma they show themselves no more courageous than the average Joe sitting at the back of the bar. And the little courage that they have is based on being hit on their entire lives so when they come to Japan they’re stunned that they actually have to work thus they consider it “extremely tough”
    What I’ve begin to notice is that the only difference between what we call a “loser” and a woman is that one just happens to have their sex life handed to them on a silver platter thus providing some sort of illusion that they can sit there and judge a man and size them up as to whether or not he’s a winner or a loser when in reality take the vagina away from a woman Or better yet put her into the body of that same guy she’s making fun of and she’s in the same position or worse.

  • In japan sex ratio is not balanced, there are many more girls instead of guys, that’s the reason that they go for any man that came along in their life.

  • You’re an idiot, this is exactly why Foreign men go to Japan to get away from woman like you. When you see us with Japanese woman and telling them we love them its because we finaly found true love and a good woman. Go back home. Just so you know, woman all over the world in Japan, Philippines, Latin America all laugh at White woman behind their backs. How horrible you dress and how horrible you are in bed. They have been told over and over again by foreign men how horrible you are.

  • I was married to a Japanese woman for 17 years and we’ve known each other for nearly 30. I have been involved (notice I did not use the word “date” with several others since. I am not the stereotypical case where the wife did everything for me. I speak very well, read, and can write to a lesser degree. I find that the biggest barrier to learning the language is actually the absolute total rejection of my ability by many people, regardless of age, sex or education. The other day I went to the doctor with my ex, just cause we knew it wouldn’t take much time, and everyone insisted on talking to her, even though I always initiated the conversation, tried to keep it going, and she constantly ask them to talk to me. Go figure.

    Back to relationships. I find that many Japanese (I don’t know about other asian countries) lack the verbal and body-language expressiveness westerners tend to identify as part and parcel of a relationship which has adequate mutual understanding.

    It’s relatively easy to attact a woman, and maybe she will get physical too, but after that there is a plateau where nothing moves forward. They want you to “understand” them without ever talking, discussing and sharing commonly held passions or projects. Anytime you try to even address this difference, it is responded to with lack of comprehension or as if you are being hostile towards them. Directly addressing differences is often taken as a statement of criticism either of the woman or a desire to end the relationship. Likewise, after conflict arising from these rather confusing and directionless, shall we say confrontations, they act as if nothing has ever happened.

    That don’t fly. You can go for decades without managing to get out of this nameless trap.

    Oh, yeah, not to mention the total lack of sex. Total game killer.

    • That’s not only a problem in relationships, but also in friendships. I’ve noticed that Japanese people who have lived abroad for a long time are different in that regard and it’s so much easier to discuss things with them without having to guess what they’re thinking all the time.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us! :)

  • Hello, thanks for the informations about the japanese woman , i personally never met any , but wish if i could i live in dubai and there is no japanese girls at least not single ,
    My salutation to japanese women wherever they are , bye .

  • When I lived in Japan, I was quite a ways from Tokyo/Osaka and this wasn’t my experience at all. Except for women who were obsessed with foreign guys, most women had very little to no interest in foreigners, where almost every foreign woman I knew over there dated a Japanese guy or several.

    If you were looking to actually date someone and not just be an accessory, as a guy, you were SOL.

    This is coming from a degree-carrying, fluent speaker of the language.

    • The Japanese countryside is quite different from the big cities.
      I’ve only ever lived in the countryside and the mixed couples I’ve met there all got to know each other abroad.
      But the couples I’ve met who were living in big cities all met in said big cities.
      People in the countryside are often more conservative. Maybe dating a foreigner is ok, but a lot of parents might still be against the idea of their child marrying a foreigner.
      In big cities people seem to be more open-minded in that regard.

      Although there are always exceptions, of course.

      And finding a partner in Japan has become more difficult than ever. Not only for foreigners, but even among Japanese people. :(

  • HI, I was just reading this article and maybe this is some of the elusive reason about dating in Japan which says 17.6% single men & 22.6% single women don’t want to date in Japan. Worse is that 41.6% males in their 20’s have Never Dated Anyone! By the ripe age of 34, 26.1% of men have had NO sexual experience at all and 23.8% of women haven’t. No wonder Japanese women are dating homely non-Japanese men.
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article55804480.html

  • Yes. Much of the information, here, is accurate, although I do not agree that “dating is easy for foreigner men, in Japan”. And certainly not for getting a different woman into bed, night after night. Research suggests the Japanese have almost no interest in sex, other than to get that little baby, of which you speak. Foreigners – Caucasian or otherwise – are socially ostracised, and stereo-typed by Japanese, and only the most fringe-dwelling, (sadly, sometimes “freaks”) will get involved with a foreigner, and it is usually to get a baby by way of securing the guy’s pay check, for life. At this point the sex stops, forever: do some research to check me on this. Please don’t get “cultural cordialities” confused with “real interest” in a foreigner. The Japanese are very good at “pretending”, and at hiding what they’re really thinking. The most “beautiful” and socio-economically endowed of Japanese women won’t even look at a foreigner, and will in fact completely ignore any attempt at communication from one, rendering “learning the language” a moot point. Their careers, their social status – and most importantly of all – their money and material shit, is worth way more to them, than any form of human connection. http://www.transformtofreedom.com/blogsex-in-japan/

    • Some truths in this post, but one glaring exception is your over-generalized assertion that only Japanese women on the fringes of society are attracted to foreign men. Both of the serious long-term relationships I’ve had with Japanese women have been with college-educated individuals who have stable jobs and familial relations. Neither of them partook in narcotics or alcohol (although one did smoke). So you change throw that nonsense right in the trash where it belongs.

      Start showing me some quantifiable data to support that opinion and maybe I’ll concede you have a point. Otherwise, stick to the facts and stop making sh_t up that I know to be patently false based on nothing more than my personal experience.

  • I am currently living with my Japanese girlfriend and are planning to get married.
    But currently I am having doubts about our future.

    She would punch/kick me when she is angry. She would be really violent (verbally and physically) when I do something wrong(What she expects me to do).
    I said to her once that I would teach her English since she can’t speak, but when the time I want to teach her she will say “I am busy” or “I don’t feel studying”. So until now we haven’t done anything related to that but she will always say to me that I am the one who is not taking the initiative to teach her English and she would just go to a Foreign Languages school here and just pay 10k+ yen.
    Since I am just around 2 years working in Japan, my salary is low and couldn’t afford to support both of us right away. I always tell her that for now she has to work just to help in the costs but she would always tell me to work and earn money for us and she will not do anything that would help us financially(She doesn’t want to work anymore). Because of that I am thinking of other ways to increase my income(side businesses, etc) and I am planning to find another job at a foreign company here in Japan since I heard that the pay and work-balance is much better. But when she heard that she told me she will be the one who will find me a job regardless if its a traditional Japanese company just for the sake of the money.

    Now she is controlling our money and will just give me a portion of my salary per month.
    She is controlling my movements, even to the point that she said “I could only play games 1 hour per day” which really devastates me since its the only hobby I have right now (I gave up a lot for her) and I am planning to create my own youtube channel to have at least a passive income if it went well.

    She changed a lot ever since I met her. That’s why I have doubts.
    I love her, but the mental/emotional stress is great.

    Thanks for your article right on the spot.

    • Actually it’s absolutely common that the woman stops working once they’re married, at the latest when they’re pregnant. And it’s even more common for them to control the money the man earns.

      But I don’t like the attitude you’ve described. Especially her complete lack of motivation to support both of you or to study English. And of course, violence is a big no-go.
      In the end, you have to decide if you want to put up with all of that or if she’s not worth it in the end.

      I wish you good luck!

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